You throw your car in park and set your phone on your lap. You check your makeup in the mirror, open the door, and step out. A sudden, sickening crack rises from the asphalt between your feet. You groan and bend to scoop up your phone, a spider web of cracks now covering its face. It rattles when you shake it beside your ear. Sounds expensive.
Luckily for you, residing in your wallet is a credit card with a perk made for this exact scenario. Certain cards have the somewhat unique perk of cell phone protection — plans that will protect your phone against severe damage and theft, as long as you’re paying your phone bill with the card.
The Best Credit Cards With Cell Phone Protection
If you’re in the market for cards that offer cell phone insurance, take a look at some of the better picks below. Otherwise, you can jump into how cell phone protection works and what situations it covers.
Citi Prestige® Card
Why We Picked It
The first three cards mentioned here have some of the highest coverage plans, but this one boasts the highest. It provides up to $1,000 per claim with a maximum of two claims per year. But be aware your claims can’t exceed more than $1,500 in a 12-month period, and there’ll be a $50 deductible.
The Prestige has an annual fee of $495, but it also features an annual $250 travel credit and Priority Pass Select membership that help mitigate the fee. It’s a pretty rewarding option, offering 5X ThankYou points per dollar for airfare and dining, as well as on online, cable, and streaming services (through 12/31/20). It earns 3X points for hotels and cruises, and 1X point for all other purchases.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
Why We Picked It
Its cell phone insurance perk covers up to $800 per claim and you can make up to two claims per year. However, the deductible is also higher, sitting at $50. The max you can claim per year is $1,000.
The Freedom Flex earns 5% cash back on travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, Lyft rides (through March 2022), grocery store purchases (up to $12,000 spent in the first year; excludes Target or Walmart), and in quarterly rotating categories, up to $1,500 spent per quarter. It also earns 3% cash back at restaurants and drugstores, and 1% everywhere else. So as you can see, it covers quite a bit of ground.
IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
Why We Picked It
The IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (Review) is a co-branded hotel credit card, in this case with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). In addition to cell phone protection, it also provides strong rewards at IHG hotels.
The cell phone coverage provides $800 per claim, with two claims per year up to a maximum of $1,000 in 12 months with a $50 deductible.
Earning 25X points per dollar at IHG properties, assuming your points are worth 0.6–1 cent, you’d receive a cash back equivalent of around 15%–25%. Along with that high rate, you’ll gain access to some nice perks like a free night stay, automatic Platinum Elite Status enrollment, and a fourth night free when you redeem for four nights or more.
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
Why We Picked It
The cell phone protection that comes with the Cash Wise is pretty par for the course. You’ll be covered for $600 per claim, with a maximum of two claims per year, up to $1,200. That’s the average coverage plan most credit cards carry, with a $25 deductible.
This card earns 1.5% cash back for all purchases, with a small boost to 1.8% in the first year if you utilize digital wallets like Apple Pay or Google Pay. There’s a welcome bonus that’s fairly easy to reach, and a number of shopping and travel protections attached in addition to cell phone protection. These include travel accident insurance and extended warranty.
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Why We Picked It
You’ll be allotted up to $600 per claim with a max of $1,800 per year, and unlike most cards, you’ll be allowed three claims annually. However, there’ll be a $100 deductible, which is higher than most coverage providers ask.
This card offers 5X points per dollar on Lyft rides (through March 2022), and 3X points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent annually for:
- Internet, cable, and phone services
- Advertisement purchases made with social media and search engines
You can transfer your points to Chase’s travel partners where you could find more value, or redeem them through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel expenses for a 25% bonus.
How Does Cell Phone Protection Work?
Cell phone protection will help repair or replace your phone in the event of severe damage or theft.
The first step is to pay your monthly phone bill with your card. That’s the only way you’ll be able to benefit from cell phone protection should anything befall your phone.
Be aware, you’ll need to alert your coverage provider within a select number of days (could be 60 or more) of the damage or theft, and then you’ll have another set time period (could be 90 days or more) to submit the required information for your claim. You’ll have to check the terms of your coverage to be sure.
In order to begin filing a claim, take a look at the table below to find the necessary contact information as per your card issuer or network:
If you’re not filing online, your coverage provider will send you the appropriate claim forms to fill out and send back. In addition, there are a few more documents you’ll be required to submit when filing a claim, either online or otherwise.
These may include:
- Your latest credit card statement reflecting your monthly phone bill payment
- Your latest phone bill that corresponds with the credit card statement you provided
- Appropriate proof of purchase for the cell phone, either the receipt or another form as deemed appropriate by your benefit administrator
- If claiming damage, a repair estimate from a qualifying cell phone repair shop or insurance provider, plus photos of the damage
- If claiming theft, a copy of the police report; in some cases, the report must be filed no more than 48 hours after the incident
In some cases, you may be required to provide additional documentation, like a copy of your device summary page or potentially even the cell phone itself.
Once you file a claim, you’ll be subject to a deductible which is determined by your coverage provider. It could be anywhere from $25 to $100.
Follow the instructions of your benefit administrator, and you should be able to get your phone repaired or replaced in due course.
What Does Cell Phone Protection Cover?
In most cases, no matter if the insurance policy is provided by the network or the card issuer (as it is with the Wells Fargo cards), your insurance will not cover lost phones or cosmetic damage.
Phones must be proven to have been stolen in front of a trusted witness, either yourself or a close friend or family member. If your phone is taken from your luggage or baggage that isn’t in your sight, your phone won’t be covered. If your phone has “mysteriously disappeared” it will not qualify for coverage. Once more, you need to prove that your phone was stolen.
It’s important to note that you’ll be required to file a police report if your card has been stolen, and submit it with your claim. For coverage provided by Visa or Mastercard, you’ll need to file a report within 48 hours of the crime.
If your phone is damaged but can still make and receive calls, or any of its other primary functions aren’t impaired, you won’t qualify for coverage. Cell phone accessories aren’t covered. And, if you’re currently using a prepaid or pay-as-you-go service, unfortunately, you won’t be able to benefit from coverage either. The same holds true for borrowed or rented phones.
Cell phone protection from your credit card won’t automatically replace any pre-existing plan you might already be paying for. The coverage provided by credit cards is typically supplemental, meaning it will reimburse you for things not covered by other plans, or primary plans. So if the plan you’re currently paying for covers lost phones or other situations credit card cell phone protection doesn’t cover, it wouldn’t hurt to use both.
Authorized users will likely benefit from this perk. However, that may not always be true. Check your Guide to Benefits to find out, but typically the authorized user is counted as an eligible cardholder and can therefore benefit from the coverage. Restrictions are defined within your guide, but it’s not always easy to understand. If you need help, reach out to customer support.
How Do I Know If My Card Has Cell Phone Protection?
Look through your Guide to Benefits that came with your card. But if you, like most people (myself included), don’t have that handy, there are other ways to find out. You can check your online account to see your card benefits in some cases, or contact customer support otherwise.
The Most Important Terms to Look For
The key cell phone protection terms to look out for in your Guide to Benefits are:
- The amount you’re covered by for each claim
- The deductible you’ll be responsible for
- The number of claims you can make per year
Who Provides My Cell Phone Protection?
The coverage is provided by a third party, typically set up by your card’s network, such as Mastercard or Visa, but in some cases it’s set up by the credit card issuer. For example, Wells Fargo supplies cell phone protection for most of its consumer credit cards. In any case, it’s up to the card issuer to decide whether or not the benefit comes with any particular card.
Keep in mind not every Mastercard, Visa, or Wells Fargo card will feature this perk.
Should You Use Auto-Pay for Your Phone Bill?
Some cell phone service providers, like Verizon and AT&T, offer auto-pay discounts for your monthly cell phone bill. Usually, these range from $5 to $10. Not only will this save you a little money, but if you pay with an eligible credit card, it’ll also make it easy to benefit from your card’s cell phone protection.
However, Verizon won’t apply the auto-pay discount if you’re using a credit card (with one exception). In order to qualify for the discount, you’d need to opt in for paper-free billing and set up auto-pay via debit card or bank account. You can still use a credit card, you just won’t save on your monthly bill.
The exception, of course, is Verizon’s own credit card. You can use your Verizon Visa Signature® Card for auto-pay to get the Verizon discount, though it doesn’t offer cell phone protection.
The discount may not seem like much when weighed against potentially breaking your $600+ iPhone, but if you’re not a clumsy person or like to gamble, saving $5–$10 each month might prove the more useful route.
But that discount isn’t your only way of saving money on your phone bill. If the credit card you’re using earns rewards, you’ll get points or cash back for paying your bill. So if you have a card like the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card (Review), which earns 1.5% cash back on phone bills, you’d still earn a little back despite not qualifying for the Verizon discount, and your phone would be covered.
How To Protect Your Phone Without Cell Phone Insurance
Even if none of your current credit cards have cell phone insurance, there are still other perks that might help.
Purchase protection insures your purchases against loss, damage, and theft for anywhere from 90 to 120 days. If anything happens to something you buy, including a new cell phone, your card provider might reimburse you.
Extended warranty, as the name suggests, will extend a manufacturer’s warranty by a certain amount, usually anywhere from six months to a year or more. So if you have a warranty and damage your phone within the extended timeframe, you might be in the clear.
Return protection could help if you just bought a cell phone and there’s something wrong with it, or you’ve decided against the purchase. If the original seller won’t take the phone back, your credit card might reimburse you for the cost. You’ll usually have to send the product to the address your benefit provider gives you within 90 days, or in some cases, more.
As stated above, cell phone protection doesn’t cover phones stolen from luggage that’s out of sight, like on a plane or a train or elsewhere. However, if your card has lost luggage reimbursement, you might be able to recoup the loss.
More Credit Cards With Cell Phone Protection
The coverage varies from card to card, depending on the network or issuer that supplies the insurance.
Mastercard provides anywhere from $600–$1,000 depending on the card, Visa coverage typically offers $600 per card, and Wells Fargo also provides $600 in coverage for its cards.
Along with the cards above, take a look at a wider collection of valuable credit cards that offer this benefit, and their various coverage amounts:
|Card||Network/Issuer||Per-Claim Coverage||Deductible||Maximum Annual Claim and/or Number of Claims|
|IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card (Review)||Mastercard/Chase||$600||$50||$1,000; 2 claims|
|HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card||Mastercard/HSBC||$800||$50||$1,000; 2 claims|
|HSBC Premier World Mastercard® Credit Card||Mastercard/HSBC||$600||$50||$1,000; 2 claims|
|HSBC Advance Mastercard® Credit Card||Mastercard/HSBC||$600||$25||$1,000; 2 claims|
|Mastercard® Black Card™ (Review)||Mastercard/Luxury Card||$600||$55||$1,000; 2 claims|
|Deserve Pro Mastercard (Review)||Mastercard/Deserve||$600||$50||$1,000|
|Deserve Edu Mastercard (Review)||Mastercard/Deserve||$600||$50||$1,000|
|Wells Fargo Platinum card (Review)||Visa/Wells Fargo||$600||$25||$1,200; 2 claims|
|Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card||Visa/Wells Fargo||$600||$25||$1,200; 2 claims|
|Wells Fargo Rewards Card||Visa/Wells Fargo||$600||$25||$1,200; 2 claims|
|Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card||Visa/Wells Fargo||$600||$25||$1,200; 2 claims|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card (Review)||American Express/Wells Fargo||$600||$25||$1,200; 2 claims|
|U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card||Visa/U.S. Bank||$600||$25||$1,200; 2 claims|