A handful of credit cards offer cell phone protection covering loss or damage. Policy details and exclusions vary, but, in general, you must use a credit card that includes the coverage to pay your cell phone service provider’s bill.
When your cell phone is lost, stolen or just stops connecting to the world, you’ll probably feel a little down on your luck.
Fortunately, a handful of credit cards offer built-in cell phone insurance, giving you a valuable financial lifeline when that all-important handheld device needs to be replaced. This credit card benefit – one that many cardholders aren’t even aware of – can be valuable if your cell phone is stolen, damaged or needs replacement.
In 2013, the average price of a smartphone in North America was $531, which increased to $567 in 2017 according to Statista. Recent smartphone models, including the iPhone X (which was priced around $1,000 at launch) and the new iPhone 12 (which starts at around $800) have pulled up the entire average for that product category. Considering this cost increase, insurance can be a pretty worthwhile safety net for most Americans.
Here we cover some rewards credit cards that offer cell phone insurance and other perks just for paying your cell phone bill.
See related: Best credit cards for paying monthly bills
What is cell phone insurance?
Dakota McKinnon, a public relations professional in Las Vegas, has two Wells Fargo consumer credit cards – the Wells Fargo Propel from American Express and the Wells Fargo Rewards card. Both come with cell phone insurance – but McKinnon simply wasn’t aware of this fact.
Had he known of the perk, Dakota says he would have already leveraged its benefits – multiple times, too.
“Do you know how many damaged iPhones I could have had replaced through the incentive? Roughly five,” McKinnon says. “I have been using iPhones since 2009 when the iPhone 3G was released. If I would have known about this incentive back in my college days, I probably would have been more inclined to use my credit card more advantageously.”
What’s covered by cell phone insurance?
Most cell phone insurance offerings cover phones that are either stolen or damaged (and unusable as a result). Some exceptions to these rules might include:
- Phones that are stolen from checked luggage during travel
- Phones that disappear without reason
- Damage caused by normal wear and tear, flooding or natural disaster
- Damage caused by “war, invasion, rebellion or insurrection”
- Cosmetic damage that doesn’t impact the phone’s usability
The majority of policies do not cover lost phones.
What cards offer cell phone insurance?
Not all credit cards offer cell phone insurance, but more are adding similar benefits. American Express rolled out cell phone insurance benefits on many of its cards in April 2021. Cards vary in how much they’ll cover per claim. Check out the top credit cards currently offering some form of cell phone insurance:
|Coverage / claim limits
|Deductible (per claim)
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express card
|Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
|Citi Prestige Card
|Chase Freedom Flex
|U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa
|1.5% cash rewards on purchases
|Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students
|1% cash back on all purchases
|The Platinum Card from American Express
Tips on how to maximize your cell phone protection benefits
In order to reap all the rewards you can from these valuable cards, here are some ways to guarantee you are maximizing your benefits:
Verify your rewards credit card is your form of payment
Make sure you are paying your cell phone bill with the rewards card that yields the benefits. This can be done either by linking your card through an autopay program or paying it online every month. Autopay is often more convenient because this guarantees you won’t miss a due date. This arrangement will ensure you will qualify for protections and that you will earn rewards.
Keep documentation organized
Keeping proof of purchase of cell phones, copies of monthly cell phone carrier statements and other types of receipts and documentation handy can streamline the process of filing an insurance claim.
File a police report for a paper trail
If your cell phone is lost or stolen, it’s prudent to file a police report. This report can be submitted to the insurance administrator to assist in filing your claim.
Pay attention to insurance information updates
It’s not uncommon for insurance carriers or card issuers to mail updates or changes to your policies. When you receive an email or letter, take the time to read the information so you are up to date with the benefits of your card and its coverage.
File your claim quickly
Most insurance policies require filing the claim within 60 days of the incident. Here are the steps to file:
- Log in to your account and follow the prompts to your card benefit services account. You will find fields to enter claim information.
- Upload all necessary documentation, including receipts and a monthly cell phone bill.
- If the online process sounds daunting, cardholders can call the phone number on the back of their credit card to be directed to a claim administrator.
With the almost effortless action of paying your cell phone bill with one of these credit cards, you can enjoy valuable cell phone insurance coverage, as well as cash back rewards or a lower APR.
But is free cell phone insurance enough of a draw to steer you toward one credit card over another? Probably not. Getting cell phone insurance for free is a nice benefit, but the yearly value you gain from the perk might not be worth it if you’re paying a high annual fee or carrying a balance and paying sky-high interest charges.
Rather than letting cell phone protection perks guide your card choices, evaluate a card’s rewards, its fee structure, the APR and its full range of benefits. Cell phone insurance is certainly nice to have if you need it, but make sure the costs of the card don’t outweigh its value in the long term.
*All information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card, the Citi Prestige Card and the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and not been reviewed by the issuer. These cards are no longer available through CreditCards.com.