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Cell phones often have a short lifespan, yet most only come with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. This is where a credit card’s extended warranty benefit can help.
Since I spend a lot of time abroad, I’ve happily used a LG Nexus 5X with Google Project Fi since September 2016. Unfortunately, my phone died in December 2017 during a trip to Australia. Here’s how I used this benefit when my phone died, and how you can use credit cards’ extended warranty perks in a similar situation.
What’s the Extended Warranty Benefit?
The extended warranty benefit effectively extends the manufacturer’s warranty on products bought with an eligible credit card. Many, but not all, top credit cards come with this benefit. Cards that do feature an extended warranty benefit usually have exclusions and maximum coverage amounts per item and per account.
Some cards match warranties up to a certain length. The Platinum Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express will match warranty lengths of a year or less. For warranties between one and five years, Amex will cover an additional year.
Other cards extend warranties by a set amount. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited provide an additional year of coverage for warranties that are three years or less. The Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard and Citi Prestige go a bit further and provide up to 24-month extended warranties with the caveat that total coverage won’t exceed 84 months from purchase date.
I originally purchased my phone using my Chase Sapphire Reserve. After determining that my warranties through Google Project Fi and the phone manufacturer LG had expired one year after purchase, I began an extended warranty benefit claim with Chase.
1. Call the Benefit Administrator
To determine the required documents and process, I called a Benefit Administrator using the number provided on Chase’s website: 1-800-874-7702. An agent at this number couldn’t transfer me but told me to call 1-800-874-7712 for an extended warranty Benefit Administrator. The Benefit Administrator explained the claim process and answered some questions I had about the process.
2. Complete the Claim Form
The Benefit Administrator said I could file a claim over the phone, but then I’d need to sign and return an emailed PDF form. He said it’d be easier and quicker to use the online form at https://www.cardbenefitservices.com, so that’s what I did and what I’d recommend others do if/when they need to file an extended warranty claim with Chase.
After logging in, I clicked on “File a Claim.”
Next, I entered the credit card number for the Chase card I’d used to purchase the broken phone. I also needed to select whether I’d previously registered the broken phone.
I hadn’t registered the phone, so I selected the “I am having issues with my cell phone” option. You’ll want to select this option for cell phone problems, since selecting the “I am registering a product while filing a claim” option funnels you into a process where a cell phone isn’t an item you can select. Next I entered the date I purchased the phone as well as the date of my most recent bill pay date prior to the cell phone breaking.
Then I needed to enter details related to my broken cell phone.
As my cell phone had died due to a known hardware issue, I selected that my “Product failed within manufacturer terms” and entered the date and details of the failure.
Next I selected whether I wanted to receive a check or be reimbursed on my debit card if the claim was approved. I don’t have a Chase debit card, so I went with the check option. I found it strange that getting a statement credit wasn’t an option.
Next it was time to upload required documentation. I skipped the uploading step initially as I still needed to obtain most of the documents. Despite skipping this step, the system said “Your claim is being reviewed by a claims examiner.” Fortunately, this review didn’t seem to happen until after I’d gone back a few days later and uploaded all of the required documentation.
3. Obtain a Repair Quote
The Benefit Administrator said I could visit any cell phone repair facility “that wasn’t a friend” and obtain a quote for repair. If the phone could be repaired for less than the phone’s purchase price before tax and shipping, they’d reimburse the repair. Otherwise, the quote needed to list a higher repair cost or an inability to repair the phone.
Since I was traveling, I inquired whether the quote could be obtained abroad in a foreign currency. The Benefit Administrator said it was acceptable to obtain the quote abroad and that the quote didn’t need to be in USD, but it did need to be “readable.”
After a stay at historic Fremantle Prison in Australia, I located a cell phone shop that also offered repair service near Perth Railway Station. A technician opened up my phone and determined that the CPU was faulty and that the motherboard had failed.
The repair center charged A$20 (about $16) for a service report stating their findings. A repair would’ve been very expensive, so the report merely stated that the phone was “beyond economical repair.” All in all, I spent about 45 minutes at the repair center.
4. Buy a Replacement (if needed)
Since the repair center deemed the phone to be “beyond economical repair,” I could get up to the original purchase price before tax and shipping of the broken phone toward a new phone. If the newer phone was cheaper than the broken phone’s purchase price, I’d only get reimbursed for the new phone’s purchase price.
I called the Benefit Administrator to ask whether the new phone needed to be bought with the same card used to buy the broken phone. I was told that the card I used to buy the new phone wouldn’t affect my claim. Hence, I used my Platinum Card from American Express since I was still trying to reach the minimum spend for my sign-up bonus. This card will match the one year manufacturer’s warranty that comes with my new phone for a total warranty of two years. However, if I hadn’t been working toward my minimum spend, I’d have used my Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard or Citi Prestige to extend the manufacturer’s warranty by 24 months.
Note that I needed to buy the new phone before I could finalize the claim. As such, there was no guarantee when buying the new phone that the claim would be approved.
5. Upload Documents
After getting a repair quote from a repair center and either getting the phone repaired or buying a new phone, it’s time to upload all of the required documents. For my claim, I submitted the following:
Manufacturer’s Warranty: This is usually shipped with cell phones in the form of a small paper booklet. Like most people, I hadn’t saved this booklet. Luckily, I was able to find a scanned version online.
Sales Receipt: This is another document that may be difficult to locate. I’d ordered my phone online though, so I’d received a sales receipt by email. Presumably, they’re mainly interested in the order date and purchase price.
Credit Card Statement: This document is relatively easy to provide. I logged in to my account online and printed to PDF the relevant statement.
Repair Invoice: I obtained this from the repair facility I visited. It should note whether the phone is repairable and any fees for the quote. If the phone is repairable, it should list the repair cost. If the phone isn’t repairable, it should list the issues and state that a repair isn’t feasible or not economical.
Replacement Receipt: If the phone is economically repairable, this isn’t needed. Otherwise, this’ll be the receipt from purchasing your new phone.
6. Wait for Resolution
I finished uploading the required documents on December 21. On December 28 I received an email asking me to call the Benefits Administrator. I prepared to defend my claim on the call, but it ended up all I needed to do was confirm my address. A check for $291.36 arrived at this address on January 5.
I’m not sure why I received $291.36. I expected to receive the phone’s purchase price plus potentially a reimbursement for the repair quote. This should have resulted in a check between $249 and $265. As I received a check for a greater amount than expected, I didn’t question why I received this amount.
I called the Benefit Administrator to inquire what to do with the broken phone. The administrator told me to retain the phone until the claim was complete, as they might request me to send it in. The claim completed without any mention of sending in the phone though.
Although having a phone break is never fun, the reimbursement from the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s extended warranty benefit made the event less financially painful. I found the online claim process to be relatively simple when compared with other claims I’ve filed.
Credit card benefits are underutilized. In addition to remembering to take advantage of your card’s perks, it’s also important to consider the best card to use — especially when you expect that a purchase may break shortly outside its manufacturer’s warranty, drop in price or be easily damaged. For these purchases, don’t forget to save your sales receipt and warranty documentation just in case.
Featured image by Manuel-F-O/Getty Images
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