Credit cards that cover cellphone loss and damage

Feb 18, 2020

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with updated information on Mastercard’s cell phone insurance benefit. It was originally published on Nov. 20, 2019.

Many credit cards come with a number of ancillary benefits, such as trip cancellation and interruption protection, delayed/lost baggage reimbursement, concierge services and rental car collision damage waivers. While some of these benefits have been either discontinued or significantly devalued, there haven’t really been any new additions to this standard suite of benefits the past few years.

Fortunately that’s changing.

The newest perk that’s becoming increasingly popular among credit cards is automatic cell phone protection. It’s a perk that can prevent you from having to buy a new $600+ smartphone in case clumsiness, bad luck or mechanical malfunction proves Murphy’s Law correct.

Other credit card benefits such as extended warranty protection and purchase protection can cover you when you buy a new cell phone with select credit cards. Here, we’re focusing on the protection provided by select credit cards when you pay your cell phone bill with the card.

While this benefit isn’t brand new, it’s being offered on more cards than before, starting in 2019 when Mastercard added cell phone insurance to World and World Elite cards. The benefit is also offered on some Visa and American Express cards, but not network-wide.

Note, although Mastercard initially announced that cell phone insurance would be added to all World and World Elite cards, recent reports suggest that some cards, such as the Citi Premier ℠ Card, may be excluded. Mastercard has not responded to TPG’s repeated requests for further information. 

Credit cards with cell phone protection

The information for the Wells Fargo Propel, Citi Prestige, Citi Premier, Uber Visa has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Note that although the Mastercard changes are network-wide, in this article we’ll only focus on one no-annual-fee, mid-tier and premium version of each card.

In This Post

Image by praetorianphoto via Getty Images.
(Image by praetorianphoto via Getty Images)

Comparing credit cards with phone protection

Card Coverage/Deductible  Notable Exclusions Earn rate on cellphone bill Annual Fee
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card Up to $600 per claim; $1,800 max per 12-month period/$100 deductible Cosmetic damage that doesn’t affect phone’s ability to function, lost phones 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points* $95
Citi Prestige® Card Up to $1,000 per claim; $1,500 max per 12-month period; $50 deductible Cosmetic damage that doesn’t affect phone’s ability to function, lost phones 1 Citi point per dollar $495
IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card Up to $800 per claim; $1,000 max per 12-month period; $50 deductible Lost phones 1x IHG point per dollar $89
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card** Up to $600 per claim; $1,200 max per 12-month period; $25 deductible Lost phones 1 point per dollar $0

*on the first $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year in the categories of travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable and phone services, and advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy)

On top of offering 3 points per dollar when you use the card to pay your monthly bill, the Ink Business Preferred from Chase gives your phone and any eligible phones listed on the same bill supplemental protection. That means damage may be covered, assuming the phone is not listed on any insurance policy from the provider or on your personal home/valuable property insurance.

This protection is subject to a $100 deductible per claim and a maximum of three claims per 12-month period. The maximum benefit limit is $600 per claim and $1,800 per 12-month period. The protection covers damage and theft.

Per Chase, it does not cover:

  • Cellular wireless telephone accessories other than standard battery and/or standard antenna provided by the manufacturer.
  • Cellular wireless telephone purchased for resale.
  • Cellular wireless telephones that are lost or “mysteriously disappear.” “Mysterious disappearance” means the vanishing of an item in an unexplained manner where there is absence of evidence of a wrongful act by a person or persons.
  • Cellular wireless telephone under the care and control of a common carrier (including, but not limited to, U.S. Postal Service, airplanes, or delivery service).
  • Cellular wireless telephone stolen from baggage, unless hand-carried and under your personal supervision, or under the supervision of your traveling companion who is previously known to you.
  • Cellular wireless telephone which has been rented, leased, borrowed, or cellular wireless telephones that are received as part of a pre-paid wireless service plan or “pay as you go” type service plans.
  • Cosmetic damage to the cellular wireless telephone or damage that does not impact the cellular wireless telephone’s capabilities and functionalities of the phone.
  • Damage or theft resulting from abuse, intentional acts, fraud, hostilities of any kind (including, but not limited to, war, invasion, rebellion, or insurrection), confiscation by the authorities, risks of contraband, illegal activities, normal wear and tear, flood, earthquake, radioactive contamination or damage from inherent product defects.
  • Damage or theft resulting from misdelivery or voluntary parting with the cellular wireless telephone.
  • Replacement cellular wireless telephone not purchased from a cellular service provider’s retail or Internet store (for example: Verizon Wireless, Sprint Wireless, etc.), or from an authorized cellular phone retailer.
  • Taxes, delivery and transportation charges, and any fees associated with the cellular service provider.

You must file a claim within 60 days of the incident and provide all required documentation for the claim within 90 days of the incident. You can go to page 48 of your Chase Ink Business Preferred benefits guide to read all the fine print.

Related reading: How to submit a cellphone insurance claim for the Ink Business Preferred

Citi Prestige

(Image by The Points Guy)

This premium card offers a cellphone protection benefit above the usual Mastercard World Elite coverage maximum. The benefit is for up to five phones when you pay their monthly bill with the card. You’ll get up to $1,000 per claim and up to $1,500 per 12-month period, with a $50 deductible. This coverage doesn’t apply to phones that are lost or mysteriously disappear (though theft is covered), and you won’t be covered if your cellphone’s damage is merely cosmetic, “including minor screen cracks and fractures less than 2 inches in length that do not prevent the ability to make or receive phone calls or to use other features related to making or receiving phone calls.” Log in to your Citi account to read all the fine print about this coverage policy.

IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

As a World Elite Mastercard, the IHG Premier offers a cellphone protection benefit that covers damage or theft up to $800 (with a $50 deductible), and up to $1,000 per 12-month period. This benefit protects your primary cellphone line and the first two secondary, additional or supplemental lines when you pay your cellphone bill every month with a World Elite Mastercard. Unlike the protection offered by the Citi Prestige and similar to the Ink Business Preferred, the Mastercard protection does cover stolen or damaged mobile phones as well as cosmetic screen scratches, even if they don’t affect the ability to make or take a call, as long as the crack or fracture is more than two inches in length. However, the return you’ll get for paying your bills with the IHG Premier is not as good as the other cards, since IHG points are only worth .5 cents each, compared to 1.7 cents and 2 cents, respectively. Here’s a list of other World Elite Mastercards, but as previously mentioned, it’s currently not clear whether all come with cellphone insurance:

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum, Barclays Arrival Plus, JetBlue Plus, Lufthana Miles, and Hawaiian AIrline cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Uber Visa Card

While not network-wide like Mastercard, a handful of Visa Signature cards offer cellphone protection when you use your card to pay your monthly bill, with coverage amounts ranging from $100 to $600. One of these cards is the Uber Visa Card. This card has no annual fee and provides up to $600 for mobile phone damage or theft when you charge your total monthly wireless telephone bill to your card. Theft, damage and involuntary and accidental parting of your cellphone are covered. Coverage is secondary, though, so you’ll need to file with any other applicable insurers first. You’re covered up to $600 per claim after a $25 deductible, but coverage is only up to the suggested retail value of a replacement cellphone. You can only have two claims per 12-month period and these claims can total no more than $1,200. See your guide to benefits for complete details.

U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

Another Visa card to offer cellphone protection is the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card. The benefit covers damage or theft up to $600, with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims ($1,200) per 12-month period. It protects your primary cellphone line and any secondary, additional or supplemental lines when you pay your cellphone bill every month with your U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card. The secondary coverage provided by this card is similar to the coverage provided by the Wells Fargo Propel and the Uber Visa Card, but check your guide to benefits for full details.

The information for the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Is cellphone protection worth it?

If you have a credit card that offers cellphone protection, it’s a no-brainer to use that card to pay your cellphone bill. This way you’ll have coverage for you and others on your plan without needing to pay your phone company for device coverage.The Ink Business Preferred has a $100 deductible, but you’ll earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on cellphone bills. So if your family has a $200 cellphone bill each month, you’ll earn 7,200 Ultimate Rewards per year, which TPG values at $144.

The other cards described in this article don’t feature bonus earning when you pay your cellphone bill, but some only charge a $25 deductible and don’t have an annual fee.If you don’t currently have a credit card that offers cellphone coverage, you should evaluate whether the potential money saved by picking up a card that offers this protection and using it to pay your cellphone bill is worth foregoing any points you are currently earning by paying your cellphone bill with another credit card. After all, many of these cards don’t charge an annual fee and also offer solid bonus earning in other categories.

Bottom line

Knowing you have coverage, with potentially only a $25 deductible, could really pay big dividends if your expensive smartphone is damaged or stolen. Remember these policies are supplemental though, so the coverage provided by these credit cards will be most valuable if you don’t already have another type of insurance currently protecting your cellphone. You’ll also need to pay your monthly bills with your eligible card in order to get the coverage.

Featured image by praetorianphoto via Getty Images.

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.

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