For many of us, our cell phones are one of the most expensive things we own — and also something that we carry almost everywhere we go. This combination means that breaking one or having one stolen at some point is highly likely — and a significant financial blow.
While credit card purchase protection can cover a new phone for the first few months, they often only work if the phone is purchased all at once instead of with installment payments, and doesn’t provide any protection once that 60, 90, or 120 day period ends. Homeowners’ or renters’ insurance may cover theft, but not accidental damage, and often have high deductibles. And insurance plans like AppleCare+, Squaretrade, or coverage purchased through a cell phone company have monthly fees that add up quickly over time.
I’ve got some good news for you, though — there are credit cards that will provide complimentary cell phone coverage just for paying your phone bill with that card! While these aren’t necessarily the most rewarding cards in terms of points or cash back earned on your purchase, the value of free cell phone insurance can easily outweigh the points you’re giving up using one of these cards.
Important: Don’t take legal advice from a website — make sure you read the full terms and conditions before relying on a credit card to protect your cell phone. For example, all of the cards highlighted here exclude phones on pre-paid service plans.
If you have a small business, the Ink Business Preferred is a no-brainer — in addition to providing up to $600 in coverage (subject to a $100 deductible), you’ll also earn three Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar you spend on your phone bill. This card covers damage and theft. There’s no limit on the number of phones covered, and they’ll accept up to three claims every 12 months.
Besides your phone bill, the Ink Business Preferred also earns three points per dollar spent on travel, shipping, internet, and cable bills, and advertising purchase, up to $150,000 in purchases per year. These points can be transferred to travel partners like United, Southwest, and Hyatt, or redeemed directly for travel purchases at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.
The card also includes trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary car rental coverage, and purchase protection, and has a $95 annual fee.
If you don’t have a small business, or you’re not looking to pay an annual fee, the Uber Visa Card from Barclays is a great alternative. It also covers up to $600 per claim for an unlimited number of phones, with a deductible of just $25 — though you can only get reimbursed for up to two claims every 12 months.
Although the Uber Visa offers 4% cash back on dining, 3% cash back on airfare and lodging, and 2% cash back on online purchases, you’ll likely only earn 1% cash back on your telephone bill.
All Wells Fargo personal credit cards
Wells Fargo is the largest bank we’re aware of that offers cell phone insurance as a standard benefit on all of its personal credit cards. Like the Uber Visa card, you’ll be covered for up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible, and you can file a maximum of two claims every 12 months.
The points you earn will, of course, vary depending on which Wells Fargo card you have. For example, if you use the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card, you’ll earn one point for every dollar spent on your phone bill, but three points per dollar spent on travel, dining, gas stations, and select streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Unlike the Ink Business Preferred, these The Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card will get you 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
When Citibank announced changes to its flagship Citi Prestige card in January, they said to expect cell phone insurance for damage and theft starting in May 2019. However, we don’t yet have any details beyond that.
You’ll earn 1 Citi ThankYou point for every dollar spent on your phone bill with this card, but its benefits go well beyond that for other purchases — this card offers five points per dollar spent on airfare and dining, and three points per dollar spent on cruises and hotels. Like the Ink Business Preferred, these points can be transferred to airline partners — mostly foreign airlines like Singapore Airlines, Avianca, and Air France/KLM, but if you need to travel domestically, you can use those programs to book flights on their US partners.
You’ll also get significant travel perks like a $250 annual travel credit, a 4th Night Free discount on hotels booked through the ThankYou travel website (up to two free nights per year), Priority Pass for airport lounge access, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment credit, trip delay and cancellation insurance, and missed event protection.
How to use this coverage
The specifics will vary a bit depending on the bank, but typically you can expect to open a claim with their third-party benefits administrator over the phone.
Then you’ll need to submit various documents (by fax or a secure portal) including proof that you paid your phone bill with the card in question; evidence that the damaged or stolen phone was attached to that account; a police report (typically filed within 48 hours) in cases of theft; and an estimate or receipt for repair or replacement.
So before something happens to your phone, make sure that the specific device you’re using appears on your carrier’s website, and that you’re paying the entire phone bill with the credit card in question.
If you already have one of these credit cards that offers cell phone protection, paying your phone bill with that card is an easy win — even if you earn fewer points than you might on another credit card, being able to get reimbursed up to $600 if your phone breaks or gets stolen is worth far more.
If you don’t already have one of these cards, the Ink Business Preferred is an excellent option for small business owners, while the Uber Visa Card is a solid choice for individuals. If you’re a frequent traveler, the Citi Prestige is a good option.