How I wasted $300 using the wrong card to pay my cell phone bill
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
My five-year-old and I were recently running late for dance recital picture day. I had my arms full of extra costume pieces, tap shoes, bows, snacks and … my iPhone.
Despite the ticking clock and my overstuffed arms, my kiddo looked way too cute to not snap a quick picture before we loaded up in the car for the dance studio. She did a pose, I leaned over clicked a picture on my phone and then, as I was getting up, I fully and completely lost control of everything I was holding, including the iPhone.
The tutus, and dance shoes and phone tumbled down to the unforgiving concrete driveway.
The extra hot pink tutu was fine, but not surprisingly, even though I do have a case on the phone, the screen cracked after that direct hit.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our free daily newsletter.
After mumbling a few inappropriate-for-dance-class bad words to myself, I shrugged it off as just a minor annoyance to fix since I charge my monthly cell phone bill to a credit card that offers built-in protections against damage or theft — or so I thought.
Spoiler alert: Inadvertently using the wrong credit card to pay for my cell phone bill cost me $300 that day.
Credit cards that offer cell phone coverage
Before we get into my costly error, here are the basics on how to protect yourself from large repairs and replacement charges if your phone takes a fall or is otherwise damaged or stolen.
Multiple types of credit cards and banks now offer some level of cell phone protection if you charge your monthly cell phone bill to that card. Typically, protections require the bill must be paid with that card for the prior month before benefits kick in.
Also, there is typically a deductible of $50 – $100 per claim and a max threshold for the claim which is likely to fall between $600 – $1,000 with some yearly maximums. Often, cosmetic damage is not usually covered, though cracks on the phone’s screen can absolutely rise to the level of being more than cosmetic. The newly added Amex cell phone protection does specifically call out screen damage as covered.
TPG has a whole guide to the best credit cards for cell phone protection, which gets into more details on the eligible cards and specific benefits, but here are a few examples of popular cards that offer cell phone benefits.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card
- Citi Prestige® Card
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you have several of these and aren’t sure which card to use for your cell phone bill, I recommend comparing protection levels and going with the one that offers the highest amount of coverage and the lowest deductible. If you still need a coin-flip decision, keep in mind that some of the cobranded Amex small business travel cards are offering monthly cell phone statement credits.
This means that the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business Amex ($15 per month) or Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business Amex ($20 per month) can get you coverage and some cash back in your pocket through the end of 2021.
For years I have had both an Ink Business Plus card (no longer available) and an Ink Business Preferred card. It’s likely duplicative to have both, but I do as they have some different earning categories — and protections.
Long ago, I started earning 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar by auto charging my cell phone bill to the Ink Business Plus. For a family plan cell phone bill that is usually at least $250 per month, that action alone nets at least 15,000 easy Ultimate Reward points each year. That’s about $300 in annual value according to TPG valuations.
The Ink Business Preferred only awards 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on cell phone bill charges (up to $150,000 in combined purchases each account anniversary year), so it wasn’t the card I originally used to pay my bill, but I thought I had moved the bill over there after that card added cell protection benefits a few years ago.
While the cards have similar names and looks in my online Chase account, once I went to make the cell phone protection claim online, it was quickly pretty apparent I had made a costly error.
My memory regarding moving the bill from the Ink Plus to Ink Preferred was wrong. I was in fact still charging my cell bill to my Ink Business Plus, so I had no cell protections at all. That over $300 screen repair at Apple that I thought would be fully covered, minus a deductible, wasn’t covered at all despite me having multiple credit cards in my wallet that do indeed provide cell phone protection benefits.
Luckily, this time it was just a cracked screen instead of an entirely broken phone, so you could say I got off easy with this lesson.
Since I clearly need to move my cell phone bill to a different card anyway, I’ll go ahead and move it to one of my eligible Amex cards to get up to $800 in protection per incident with just a $50 deductible.
My hope is that someone will learn from my mistake and go ahead and switch how they pay their cell phone bill before you’re left sitting with a costly repair or replacement that costs hundreds of dollars and instead could have been just $50 – $100 thanks to a card you may already have in your wallet.
If you don’t yet have a card that offers these benefits, now is a great time to factor that into your next card application, especially while so many of these cards are offering increased welcome bonuses.
The Platinum Card from Amex has an offer of 100,000 bonus points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first six months of card membership (there’s also a targeted higher 125k bonus offer on CardMatch; offer subject to change at anytime) and the Business Platinum Amex with a TPG-exclusive massive bonus of 125,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership.
But whether you have a card you can use for cell protections now, or you need to add one to your line-up, don’t just rely on memory, double-check the bill is indeed charging to the correct card each month now, before it’s too late later.
Featured image by Irina Dobrolyubova / Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees