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Did your phone die just days after its warranty ended? Warranties always seem to end right before you need them, leaving you out of luck unless you put the original purchase on a credit card offering extended warranty protection. I know this firsthand, as I filed successful extended warranty protection claims for a cell phone and a shirt that each failed right outside their manufacturer’s warranties.

In this guide, I explain the extended warranty benefit offered by some credit cards, how to utilize this benefit and which cards feature the best extended warranty benefits.

What Is an Extended Warranty?

The extended warranty benefit effectively extends the manufacturer’s warranty on products purchased with an eligible credit card. Many, but not all, credit cards come with this benefit. Some card benefits match warranties up to a certain length while others extend warranties by a set amount. Exclusions and maximum coverage limits also vary across cards.

How Extended Warranty Benefits Differ

Extended warranty benefits offered by credit cards differ in a few key aspects.

  • Extension period: How long is the manufacturer’s warranty extended? Are there any maximum coverage lengths?
  • Length of warranties covered: Is there a limit on what warranty lengths can be extended?
  • Coverage limits: What’s the maximum coverage provided per item and per year?
  • Exclusions: What types of items and damages are excluded?
    • Common types of items excluded: Cars, boats, software, plants, animals, antiques, products normally hard-wired into a house
    • Common types of damage excluded: Power surges, accidental damage, catastrophes, wear and tear, riots

How to Utilize Extended Warranty

Before making a sizable purchase, consider which of your credit cards will provide the best shopping protections. This guide focuses on the extended warranty benefit, but you’ll also want to consider the purchase protection, price protection and return protection benefits offered by the card(s) you could use for the purchase.

When you buy something that has a manufacturer’s warranty and you use a credit card that features an extended warranty benefit, be sure to save the following:

  • Original store receipt
  • Credit card statement for the month showing the charge
  • Manufacturer’s warranty booklet or document

If something you own breaks and has a manufacturer’s warranty:

  1. Check the manufacturer’s warranty. If the item is still covered, begin a claim with the manufacturer.
  2. If outside the manufacturer’s warranty, check the benefits guide for the credit card that you used to make the purchase.
  3. Call a benefits administrator if you need to file a claim or have questions regarding the claim process or eligibility. Call before getting the item repaired in case the benefits administrator wants you to send it to a particular repair facility.
  4. Collect documentation — which may consist of a repair quote, photos of the damaged item, the original receipt and the credit card statement showing the charge — and submit the claim

If approved, you’ll usually receive a check or statement credit reimbursing you for repair costs, replacement costs or the original purchase cost. In some cases, the benefits administrator may ask you to send back the item for inspection or repair.

Citi: The Best Credit Card Provider for Extended Warranty

One credit card provider — Citi — stands above the rest when it comes to the extended warranty benefit. In particular, all Citi cards that I checked — ranging from the $450 annual fee Citi Prestige to the no annual fee Citi Double Cash Card — offer the following extended warranty benefit:

  • Extension of the manufacturer’s warranty by two years, with total coverage not exceeding seven years from the purchase date
  • If an extended warranty is purchased, Citi’s coverage begins at the expiration of that warranty
  • Coverage up to $10,000, capped at the lower of the purchase price and the cost to repair or replace

As far as I can tell, Citi credit cards are the only cards to offer a two-year extended warranty; the extended warranty benefit offered by other credit cards is no longer than a year. Citi doesn’t seem to have a minimum manufacturer’s warranty required for coverage either, so a one-month manufacturer’s warranty could be extended by two years.

Unfortunately, Citi’s extended warranty coverage doesn’t apply to the following:

  • Boats, cars, aircraft or any other motorized land, air or water vehicles and their original equipment. Tires aren’t covered either.
  • Services unless covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Used, antique or pre-owned items.
  • Items purchased for resale, professional or commercial use.
  • Land or buildings; housing properties.
  • Plants and live animals.
  • Items that don’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty.

Additionally, Citi’s extended warranty coverage doesn’t apply when:

  • You fail to care for or service the item appropriately as required by the manufacturer.
  • The item has a product defect, recall or experiences normal wear and tear where no failure has occurred.
  • The item is damaged because of an act of God, such as a flood, hurricane, lightning, wind or earthquake.

Best Citi Cards for Extended Warranty

All of the Citi cards I examined offer the same extended warranty and Citi Price Rewind benefits. The purchase protection and return benefits are similar across all of the cards, with annual fee cards offering higher coverage amounts.

The following Citi cards offer purchase protection of $10,000 per item and $50,000 per year on eligible items for the first 120 days and return protection of $500 per item and $2,500 per year for the first 90 days.

Unfortunately, all of these Citi cards only earn 1 point per dollar on shopping purchases. Although the following no annual fee Citi cards offer worse purchase protection ($1,000 per item) and return protection ($300 per item and $1,000 per year), they both have the potential to earn more on purchases that might need these shopping protection benefits.

  • Citi Double Cash Card
    • Earning rate: Effectively 2% cash back (1% cash back on purchases, plus an additional 1% when you pay for these purchases)
  • AT&T Access Card from Citi
    • Earning rates: 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on online retail and travel websites and at AT&T; 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases

Remember that, for extended warranty purposes, Citi doesn’t cover wear and tear. If you’re purchasing an item where you believe covering wear and tear or other types of damage is more important than extending the warranty by two years instead of one, you may want to consider using an American Express or Chase card.

Runners-Up: American Express and Chase

Although Citi’s two-year extended warranty extension and suite of other shopping protections is difficult to beat, there are a few reasons you might consider using an American Express or Chase credit card. Of course, by using an American Express or Chase credit card instead of a Citi credit card, you’re accepting a one-year extended warranty benefit instead of a two-year benefit.

When to Use an American Express Card

It could be better to use an American Express card such as the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express or the no annual fee Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express on purchases where:

  • The manufacturer’s warranty is for five years or less
  • You want the credit card’s extended warranty to include wear and tear

All American Express credit cards offer the same extended warranty and return protection benefits. However, purchase protection offered by American Express cards varies, with most cards offering up to $1,000 per incident and premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express offering up to $10,000 per incident. One transparency aspect I appreciate about American Express: the full benefits policies for each of their shopping protection benefits are available online without needing to log in.

When to Use a Chase Card

You might want to use a Chase credit card like the United MileagePlus Club Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited on purchases when:

  • The manufacturer’s warranty is for three years or less
  • You want the credit card’s extended warranty to not exclude any particular types of damage

However, remember that Chase is slashing some shopping protections in late August 2018 — so you’ll generally want to use a Citi or American Express credit card to get the best overall shopping protections.

Bottom Line

If an item you purchase has a manufacturer’s warranty, you can often get extended warranty protection just by putting the purchase on a credit card offering an extended warranty shopping benefit. All Citi cards I discussed offer a generous two-year extended warranty benefit that can extended a manufacturer’s warranty to as long as seven years. So, putting larger purchases that come with manufacturer’s warranties on a Citi credit card will likely be best. However, for particular purchases where wear and tear or other often excluded types of damage are likely, the one-year extended warranty benefit offered by American Express and Chase credit cards may be better.

Remember to read the benefits guide for the card you plan to use before making any large purchase to ensure that your purchase and its manufacturer’s warranty aren’t excluded. Reading the benefits guide will also inform you of the card’s other shopping protection benefits. After making the purchase, save the receipt, credit card statement and warranty documents in case you ever need to file a claim.

Feature image by by Matthew Kane via Unsplash.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.