Credit card cell phone insurance compared

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These days, your cell phone may be among your most expensive possessions. Having coverage in case of damage or theft can be worthwhile for those who anticipate being prone to damaging their phone and/or who would appreciate some peace of mind about the cost of replacement in the event of damage or theft. Luckily, a number of rewards credit cards offer strong cell phone insurance coverage as part of their regular suite of benefits.

Previously, I wrote about  one of my experiences using credit card cell phone insurance protection a couple of years ago. While my claim was ultimately approved, at the time I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t really a win given that I had made a poor choice in terms of which card I used: at the time, the card I used had a large deductible and the repair cost of my phone was low. I’d have been better off self-insuring and earning more points per dollar on my bill. In the time since then, I have made a couple more claims (including one purchase protection claim and a couple of phone damage claims….we had a couple of bad years on phones). I also added a number of lines through T-Mobile promotions and I now have 9 lines on my cell phone plan. Quite a few of those lines now have late-model flagship phones on them, so the value of cell phone insurance is growing in my family with a greater likelihood of one of us breaking a phone now and then. Choosing the right card to use for my bill matters in terms of having sufficient and useful coverage, though one has to consider the value of additional rewards sacrificed.

This post includes an easy reference chart and is meant to be a quick-reference resource for what you need to know about cell phone insurance.

New updates to this post

This post has been updated as of 4/26/22 to reflect a number of changes, including the removal of IHG cards (as the benefit ended on 1/1/22 on those cards), increase of coverage on the Chase Ink Business Preferred card (now up to $1,000 per claim), and the addition of several cards including the Bilt Mastercard, Capital One Venture X Rewards card, the Barclays business credit cards, and the PointCard debit card. We have also added a website to check coverage on your Mastercards and added some additional information in sections below.

Credit card cell phone insurance comparison chart

Issuer Card Deductible Limits Notes Earn
Amex Platinum & Centurion Cards $50 $800 / claim
$1,600 / year
Covers cracked screens but not other cosmetic damage. 1x
Amex Delta Platinum & Reserve Cards $50 $800 / claim
$1,600 / year
Covers cracked screens but not other cosmetic damage. 1x
Barclays Aviator Business $50 $800 / claim
$1000 / year
Covers a max of 2 claims per year 2x
Barclays Hawaiian Business $50 $800 / claim
$1000 / year
Covers a max of 2 claims per year 1x
Barclays JetBlue Business $50 $800 / claim
$1000 / year
Covers a max of 2 claims per year. 1x
Barclays Wyndham Business Earner $50 $600 / claim
$1000 / year
Covers a max of 2 claims per year 5x
Wells Fargo Bilt Mastercard $25 $800 / claim
2 claims / year
This card features World Elite Mastercard coverage. 1x
Capital One Venture X $50 $800 / claim
2 claims / year
Coverage is through the same company that handles Chase coverage. 2x
Capital One Spark Cash $50 $800 / claim
$1000 / year (up to 2 claims / year)
This benefit may only apply to Mastercards 2x
Chase Freedom Flex $50 $800 / claim
$1000 / year
Does not cosmetic damage that does not impact phone calls 1x
Chase Ink Business Preferred $100 $1000 / claim
3 claims / year
Coverage increased to $1,000 per claim in 2022. 3x
Citi Prestige $50 $1000 / claim
$1500 / year
Does not cover cosmetic damage that does not impact phone calls 1x
Navy Federal Credit Union Secured Card $50 $250 / $500 (Visa)
$600 / $1K (Mastercard)
May be a great option for a student 1x
Point PointCard Debit $50 $600 / claim
$1000 / year
Relatively weak coverage considering the annual fee. 1x
SoFi Money debit $25 $200 per claim
2 claims / year
Covers unlimited lines None
US Bank Platinum card $25 $600 / claim
$1200 / year
This card offers no rewards. None
Wells Fargo All consumer cards $25 $600 / claim
$1200 / year
This coverage even applies on a card like the Active Cash, which has no annual fee. Varies
World Mastercard Some $50 $600 / claim
$1000 / year
Check your card number here.
World Elite Mastercard Some $50 $1000 / claim
$1500 / year
Check your card number here.

 

Credit card cell phone insurance basics

As you can see in the chart above, there are a number of credit cards (and even debit cards and secured cards in some cases) that offer cell phone insurance, but that insurance is not created equally. The cap per claim and the cost of deductibles really vary.

Most cards require you to pay your monthly bill in full with the credit card providing coverage. You do not need to have purchased the phone itself with the credit card (in all cases of which I am aware) but rather pay the monthly service bill with it.

When coverage begins varies. With some cards (like the Chase Ink Business Preferred card), coverage begins the day after you pay your cell phone bill and continues through the end of the following calendar month. Other cards (like the US Bank Platinum card) have coverage begin on the first day of the next calendar month after you pat your bill. It is worth confirming how coverage works with your chosen card before you need to file a claim.

Will cell phone coverage apply if you only pay part of your bill with your qualifying card?

Officially, terms of cell phone insurance benefits almost all require that you pay your cell phone bill in full with the card offering coverage. Furthermore, as mentioned above, coverage on most cards begins on the 1st of the month after the month in which you pay your bill (be sure to check the terms on the specific card you intend to use as this is a generalization).

Many readers have wondered whether coverage would apply if you have used more than one card to pay the bill. For instance, the American Express Business Platinum card offers a monthly $10 credit for wireless services. Some readers have more than one Business Platinum card and may wonder whether making payments with more than one card will disqualify them from coverage. Sometimes we see other promotions pop up where you can get a better return or credit on another card.

Ultimately, whether or not your claim qualifies for coverage is going to be up to a claims adjustor / benefits administrator. In my experience, I have been covered when paying the entire amount shown on my monthly bill at the time it generates. In the past, I played that this way: I paid my bill in full with a card that offers cell phone coverage. Then, after my bill has a $0 balance, I make any additional payments. For example, imagine that my monthly cell phone bill is $100. I will auto-pay that bill with a card that offers cell phone coverage. Then, I may use a Business Platinum card and make an additional $10 payment, bringing my cell phone bill balance down to -$10. Then, when my next monthly bill generates, that -$10 balance gets carried forward and the total shown on my new monthly bill is $90 due to the negative balance carry-forward. I then pay the full amount billed to me ($90) on a credit card offering cell phone protection. Later, I repeat the $10 extra payment. I can’t guarantee that this won’t disqualify you from coverage, but I had to make a claim and I submitted my bill, which showed the total due at the top and the balance forward carry-over beneath that, and my credit card statement showing that I paid the amount billed to me and my claim was approved. Your mileage may vary.

Additional thoughts about credit card cell phone insurance

The final two entries in the chart above are for World and World Elite Mastercards. That’s because Mastercard added cell phone coverage to World and World Elite cards a couple of years ago. It wasn’t previously clear which specific cards were eligible, but now you should be able to enter your card number at https://us.mycardbenefits.com/ to see eligibility for World or World Elite benefits.

At least some cards that do offer protection do not make it particularly clear. This coverage should be found somewhere in your guide to benefits if your card offers it. That said, how many of us keep the guide to benefits handy? Some issuers make that guide to benefits available online, but not all do.

That makes this cell phone protection particularly challenging: it is possible that you have cards in your wallet that cover cell phone protection without an easy way to know it. The chart above shows cards that are known to carry coverage, but it is certainly possible that additional cards offer coverage.

Furthermore, coverage limitations vary in ways that may be significant to you. For instance, the Chase Freedom Flex card specifically excludes damage that is purely cosmetic, including cracks in the screen that are two inches long or less and do not interfere with the phone’s ability to make or receive calls. The wording there was particularly surprising: it is clear that if your phone can still make and receive calls, the damage could be deemed cosmetic even if it interferes with some apps or being able to use sections of your screen that aren’t required to make or answer calls. I don’t know how closely the benefits administrator will follow the letter of the policy as I imagine you’ll be getting your own diagnostic estimate in most cases, but it is an interesting limitation nonetheless.

If you still have the Guide to Benefits that came with your credit card, hopefully you can find cell phone protection details there. And in the case of many of the cards in the chart above, you can easily confirm coverage information on the issuer’s website. For example, Wells Fargo summarizes the benefit here and offers more detail here. I would rather use a card that explicitly lists coverage details online.

I find it very interesting that the Navy Federal Credit Union secured credit cards offer cell phone insurance. Secured cards are for those building or rebuilding credit and therefore require a security deposit, which should make a secured card easy for almost anyone to get. I would therefore think that a Navy Federal secured card may be a great choice for a student paying for his or her own cell phone bill since I imagine they might be able to get this card even if they aren’t yet able to get some of the more rewarding cards in the list. That said, a student following Greg’s blueprint should quickly be eligible for something better.

Bottom line

Credit card cell phone insurance is a benefit that is being extended on many credit cards. This makes sense; in many cases, the most expensive / valuable item people carry with them day-to-day is their phone. Having coverage in case of damage or theft can really help ease the sting in cases where your phone is completely destroyed. On the other hand, you have to consider the deductible and coverage limits as they relate to the cost of repairing or replacing your phone — and the category bonus you may be able to trigger on a credit card that doesn’t offer cell phone insurance. Some will prefer to self-insure and use a card that earns an excellent category bonus, like the Chase Ink Cash credit card (which earns 5x on wireless services) rather than worry about insurance. It is worth running the numbers to consider how much you sacrifice in potential rewards by using a card that earns fewer points to pay your bill. On the other hand, if you have a number of expensive phones on your plan, you may be happy to trade a few extra potential points away in exchange for coverage that could save you a bundle. Indeed, over the past couple of years, I came out well ahead by being covered by my credit card.

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Points Adventure

Hey Nick, the Amex offer on Fi that Stephen wrote about today requires at least $50 each transaction to trigger the $25 credit. My monthly bill is usually under $50, so if I used this offer, there would be nothing in the next bill to put on the covered CC. Do you see a way that I can still use that offer?

coleccionables

Hi, great post! I have the next questions:

1- where is it better to ask for blog posts? fb group or in the post itself?

2- do this also apply for used or refurbished phones? do they have to be bought in USA?

3- does the carrier has to be in the US? postpaid only or prepaid too? I understand I dont have to pay the whole bill with the card in question, in the event carriers allow it d be convenient to use 99% of the bill w the best card in terms of points and 1% on the best insurance card or ur possesion, or 2nd strategy: half w one insuring card n half w other insuring card so u have a 2nd option to run the claim in case the 1st doesnt pay u.

4- In the event of any of my phones stolen how do I procede? would I need to be paying 2 monthly bills w 2 applicable cards? what if only one of my phones gets stolen n at the moment that was not the one in which I have the “insured” sim card that I usually have on that phone?

PLEASE READ THIS FOR QUESTIONS 3 & 4 ABOVE:
I do own 2 phones n I have a total of 3-4carriers, 1st USA Tmobile Sim month to month (autopayment w Amex Platinum) that I dont always have inside my phones, 2nd Argentinian Sim Card that I rarely pay w any American card I do often have this sim inside some of my phones since it gives me a not too bad roaming, 3rd and 4th local sim cards bought in the country I happen to be at the moment (I move a lot n local companies give me best speed n quota so I often have 1 or 2 of these sims inside any of my phones at any given moment.

I often have older phones that I buy online (mostly Amazon USA or Amazon Europe) so after the annoynce and deductible it feels not worth it but lately I have been thinking on upgrading my phones n keeping up w new models every year or so, then this benefit comes handy as if I do I d have at any given time 2 phones of 600usd value each…

Thanks a lot for taking your time Nick…

Last edited 16 days ago by coleccionables
Cavedweller

Nick
Thanks a lot I switched my INK B Plus to Ink B Preferred ..No CC number change and a Apple phone coming UP..
Thanks

Kathy

So, I have 5 phones on my account and many of them are the new expensive phones, mine being the iPhone 13 Pro Max. I have Verizon and yes, they do give me a $50 credit for using their Verizon Visa but it doesn’t over coverage. I think it’s worth it to put the bill on another card. It looks like the Ink Business Preferred is good because it allows three claims per year but the deductible is $100. That is kinda alot. Like many of us on here, I have many different cards. Curious which card most people choose.

JayP

I’ve used the Wells Fargo cell phone benefit a number of times. I give up the bonus points on my Chase Ink Cash because I find it really valuable and it’s always been easily approved even when the issue wasn’t obviously due to damage (iPhone speaker stopped working for example). $600 cap is the only downside, but that’s never been an issue for me.

Nun

I understand why you’re cautious with the $10 amex credits, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. If your T-Mobile bill is $50, you make a full $50 charge to them. From that point of view you paid the whole bill with your card. The fact that you later get a $10 rebate credited back to you is a separate transaction. If they mailed the rebate by paper check instead, would that change your mind, because it’s really the same?

Beechy

Coverage question that I can’t seem to find the answer for. Bill is under my name, but phones on the account belong to my adult kids. Does the bill need to be paid by a card under their name or mine as the account holder ? Thanks for the help 🙂

Michael P Hoff

Thanks for the updated post; it’s useful.

One interesting thing, I followed the Wells Fargo link in your article and read about their coverage. But the “more detail here” link has more restrictions. There it says, “Cosmetic damage to the cell phone or damage that does not impact the cell phone’s capabilities and functionalities” is not covered. So, that sounds like a crack in the screen that still allows all apps/calls to be made/used are not covered. It sounds less restrictive than the Chase exclusion concerning phone calls, but I’d bet you’d often still be stuck with a cracked screen.

JayP

I’ve had several broken screens and defects that I really couldn’t prove were due to damage and have never had one denied through WF (Card Benefit Services processes the claims, whoever that is). Basically just provide an estimate from Apple or a local repair shop (along with a copy of your phone bill, copy of your statement, etc) and they cut you a check.

LSP

Thanks for the guide. Would you consider basics on filing a claim? IE I drop my phone and it stops working – then what? Send it back to the manufacturer then submit their bill to the insurance company? Use a local repair service?

LSP

Thanks!

Daniel

Thanks for this.

Would you add the Capital One Venture X to this list.

While this is all better than nothing, those with $600 limits are pretty stingy. Most new cell phones are $1,000 minimum, so if there’s a total loss, there could still be a good amount out of pocket.

Joseph N.

Does this page get updated? Chase removed phone insurance from both those IHG Mastercards, effective 1/1/2022.

It was part of the same announcement about the rental car insurance.

ian

Do any of these cards offer earning rates that can compete with 5x on the Ink Cash?

James

Barclays JetBlue cards (both personal and business) have cell phone coverage, according to the benefits pamphlets I received when opening the cards in November 2020. Same terms as the Aviator Red – $800 per claim, max 2 claims and $1000 per 12-month period.

N Sproul

I have used the coverage twice on Barclay Uber and have a claim outstanding on new Freedom. The first claim (90) was approved promptly. The second claim in the 12 month period was for $330 and I had to submit the paperwork again and again. I also had to provide evidence that I paid the card the month I filed the claim (not just the month before) to finally get paid. (I told them not required for coverage but just did it.) I have gotten a similar run around on the pending claim, but expect it will get paid eventually. (4 people in the house, including 2 teens….I now just pay my bill with a card with coverage, regardless of the points.)

Glad to know my Barclay Red has coverage too! Thanks.

Ryan del Mundo

Any cards have coverage for pre-paid plans? I also use GoogleFi for about $1/month (I’m abroad and just use for SMS on a prorated basis), would that be sufficient to cover damage?

Oliver

Are you on Google Fi or another Google product (maybe Google Voice)?

Greg The Frequent Miler

I’m not aware of any that cover pre-paid plans. Good question about Google Fi. Seems like it should trigger the coverage as long as you can show that that’s the entire bill, but I imagine that claim will get a lot more eyes on it than usual.

Aaron

Some of the above cards require full bill payment, but others only require partial bill payment for benefit eligibility. Wouldn’t the ideal solution be to charge $5/mo to a card that provides cell protection with partial bill payment and then charge the rest to a different card that earns 5x on wireless?

Aaron

Also, any chance of updating the sheet with y/n coverage of theft, loss and “mysterious disappearance” (often a completely different category ie. disappeared from your hotel room without visible signs of forced entry)?

CaptNemo

Barlcays Arrival+ World Elite Mastercard provides secondary coverage for eligible damage or theft of your eligible cellular wireless telephone.

To be eligible for the benefit, you must charge your monthly cell phone bill to your eligible card. You are eligible for secondary coverage the first day of the calendar month following the payment of your cell phone bill to your eligible card. Provides supplemental coverage for eligible damage to, or theft of your cellular wireless telephone. The maximum liability is $800 per claim and $1,000 per covered card per 12 month period. Each claim is subject to a $50 deductible. Secondary coverage is limited to 2 claims per covered card per 12 month period. Restrictions, limitations and exclusions apply. See your Guide to Benefits for complete details.

Full T&Cs: https://www.barclaycardus.com/servicing/img/base/guideBenefits/BAR-7306-3.pdf

Last edited 1 year ago by CaptNemo
Vince

FYI The Upromise World Elite Mastercard from Barclays offers same protection as the Aviator as you describe.

Vince

Not bad for a no fee card

Danny

Hi Vince, do you have a link to the benefits guide showing the protection? Thanks!

Vince

Well this is interesting. When I do a generic search I only find the Upromise card as being a regular mastercard, not a world elite:
https://cards.barclaycardus.com/banking/cards/upromise-world-mastercard/

But the one I have is a world elite…I have had this card for about 19 years, so ?not sure if mine is an grandfathered in version? as I do not see any other version currently being offered on their site:

https://cards.barclaycardus.com/banking/cards/#///cash-back

when I log into my Barclays account after choosing the card I go –>rewards and benefits–>security–>cell phone protection:
“To be eligible for the benefit, you must charge your monthly cell phone bill to your eligible card. You are eligible for secondary coverage the first day of the calendar month following the payment of your cell phone bill to your eligible card. Provides supplemental coverage for eligible damage to, or theft of your cellular wireless telephone. The maximum liability is $800 per claim and $1,000 per covered card per 12 month period. Each claim is subject to a $50 deductible. Secondary coverage is limited to 2 claims per covered card per 12 month period. Restrictions, limitations and exclusions apply. See your Guide to Benefits for complete details.”

[…] Credit card cell phone insurance compared […]

Former Chase Banker

Also worth noting that with some carriers like Verizon, if you don’t autopay your full bill from a bank account, you lose your autopay discount. Depending on how many lines you have, credit card points and insurance coverage may not outweigh the discount.

Daniel

Incorrect. You can use a credit card and get the autopay discount with Verizon.

THOMAS

Really? They told me when I opened my Verizon account last year that the bill has to be paid via auto bank debit or their own Verizon credit card to get the $20 autopay discount. How did you use a different card and still get the discount?

Sam

Here is the benefits guide for the Barclays Aviator Card. It does include cellphone protection https://www.barclaycardus.com/servicing/img/base/guideBenefits/BAR-7306-3.pdf

You can always download the benefit guide like this, login/ go to rewards and benefits/ choose a benefit for example auto rental insurance / then click on terms and conditions.

bill

Hi Nick – I was able to find the details about Barclays Jetblue Plus card coverage by going to Rewards and Benefits -> My Card Benefits -> Security -> Cellular Telephone Protection. That link includes the full Terms and Conditions, but it also specifies that cosmetic damage is not included.

Ken

What about for people that bought an unlocked phone and pay for their service one year at a time and not monthly?

Points For Four

Nick thanks for the chart. I’m baffled why the ultra premium cards do not offer this, you would think the CSR and Platinum would be all over this.

Alex

Hi Nick,
I called the Benefits Administrator from Master Card, and the rep did indeed confirm the the World Elite from the Citi Premier has cell phone insurance. The rep read to me the coverage, I seem to recall it’s the same as the Prestige’s, 2 claims per 12 months max, but I can’t confirm the exact limits per claim (I was just glad that I had it on the card). I contacted you guys via the Ask Me Anything youtube video today and I incorrectly stated that I was transferred over to the cell phone benefits dept, that was not right, it was as Nick said in the video, the Benefits Administrator from MC.
I don’t know if this coverage has to do with being a brand new card, not sure if it covers all Premier cardholders (world elite), but the rep did confirm a couple of times that the cell phone coverage does exist in my card.
Hope this helps!

Alex

I’d be interested to know what you find out when you call to inquire about this coverage. Since Citi seems to be so inconsistent, I’d feel more comfortable knowing this is the “norm” and not a “one-off” for one cardholder. I admit I feel somewhat confident too that the coverage was confirmed by the MC Benefits Administrator and not Citi.

matthew@airsicktravel.blogspot

I recently submitted an actual claim (went to a cell phone repair shop for a repair estimate), it was denied by MasterCard saying the card (Citi Premier) does not have this benefit. This was in October, 2020.

Alex

So you submitted a repair estimate, and not an actual invoice? I recently used my Prestige for a repair, I didn’t bother submitting the estimate, I just went ahead and submitted my actual repair invoice… They made me work for it, they requested additional documentation on a couple of occassions (it takes about a week to get a response), so all in all it took about 5-6 weeks to complete… My prior experience with Chase was a breeze by comparison…

matthew@airsicktravel.blogspot

Yes, the phone is not worth paying my own money to repair. And they Mastercard site asked for a repair estimate if I recall correctly but their reason for denying me was that my card did not have phone protection so it wouldn’t matter what I submitted.

Phill

Do these insurances cover lost phones? TIA

Mark P

No. But they cover stolen phones (need a police report).

Sam

Wells Fargo visa signature covers lost as well

Peter

Wells Fargo does not cover cellular phones that are lost or “mysteriously” disappear.
https://www.doctorofcredit.com/credit-card-cell-phone-insurance-compared-get-600-coverage-free/

Gene

@ Nick — Is it safe to say that the best coverage for a super-premium “flagship” phone (eg, top of the line iphone or Galaxy Note) is Citi Prestige?

JustSaying

It would be nice to see Apple Care or Apple credit card compared.

Ryan

this is awesome and very helpful. Thanks!. Quick question: any Amex cards w/ cell phone coverage?

Ann

wells fargo card by Amex does have cell coverage.

Johnny

I just thought about it, how does the credit card company know when the phone broke? Maybe just pay the bill on Ink Cash and if you break your cellphone, wait until the next billing cycle, pay with a card with a good insurance plan then file the claim.

Sam

Lol good question. They trust you…..

Johnny

Great read but the ad on the right side of the page covers the last column until Sofi.

Steven

I used to think the insurance offered by the Ink Preferred was great, until the insurance administrators made be get a statement from Google Fi stating that my phone was not covered by Fi. That was a pain in the A and caused me to switch to the Ink Cash. Even for my wife’s Verizon account, I switched to the Ink Cash for the bill remainder given the $20-40 in credits I receive for partially paying with my Amex Platinums.