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. However, that’s changing.

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

Other credit card protections such as extended warranty protection and purchase protection can cover you when you buy a new cell phone with select credit cards. But 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 previously only been offered on a handful of cards. This changed in 2019 when Mastercard added cell phone insurance to all World and World Elite cards.

Credit cards with cell phone protection

  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
  • Citi Prestige® Card
  • IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
  • Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
  • Uber Visa Card
  • U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card

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

Comparing credit cards with phone protection

*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

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card

(Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eric Helgas for 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 protects your phone and any eligible phones listed on the same bill with 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.

As 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 in order to avoid claim denial. You can go to page 48 of your Chase Ink Business Preferred benefits guide to read all the fine print for the protection.

RELATED: How to Submit a Cell Phone Insurance Claim for the Ink Business Preferred

Citi Prestige

(Image by The Points Guy)
(Image by The Points Guy)

This premium card offers a cell phone 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, and there’s 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 cell phone’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 a World Elite Mastercard, beginning Nov. 17, 2019, the IHG Premier will offer a cell phone protection benefit that covers damage or theft up to $800 — with a $50 deductible — up to $1,000 per 12-month period. This benefits protects your primary cell phone line and the first two secondary, additional or supplemental lines when you pay your cell phone 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. 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.

Other World Elite Mastercards with the same level cell phone protection include:

  • Citi Premier℠ Card
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
  • JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard
  • Lufthansa Miles & More World Elite Mastercard
  • Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard
  • Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card

The coverage provided by World Mastercards such as the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is very similar to that offered by World Elite Mastercards, but with a lower maximum coverage amount per claim. It offers up to $600 per claim, with a $50 deductible, up to $1,000 per 12-month period.

As with World Elite Mastercards, World Mastercards do cover stolen devices and damaged devices, including those with cosmetic screen scratches that don’t affect your ability to make calls.

Other World Mastercards that offer the same level cell phone protection include:

  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®
  • JetBlue World Mastercard
  • Allegiant World Mastercard Credit Card
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard
  • Frontier Airlines World Mastercard
  • Spirit Airlines World Mastercard

Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card

The Wells Fargo Propel Amex includes cell phone protection — just pay your monthly cell bill with the card and get up to $600 in protection against covered damage or theft (subject to a $25 deductible). The protection policy doesn’t cover lost phones and there’s a maximum of two claims (up to $1,200) per 12-month period.

Reimbursement is limited to the repair or replacement of your original cell phone. Coverage doesn’t apply to cell phones that are rented, borrowed or received as part of a prepaid plan. Electronic failure or issues related to the software of the device also aren’t covered. But, this protection is pretty great considering this card has no annual fee.

This coverage is also supplementary to any other insurance you may have for your phone, but may pay the deductible for other insurance. Make sure you read all of the fine print of the policy in order to ensure your claim is eligible for approval.

RELATED: How I got my cracked iPhone replaced for just $54.20 by using the right credit card

The following other Wells Fargo Credit Cards also offer cell phone protection:

  • Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card
  • Wells Fargo Visa Signature® Card
  • Wells Fargo Rewards Card
  • Wells Fargo Platinum Card
  • Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card
  • Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card

The information for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature, Wells Fargo Rewards, Wells Fargo Platinum, Wells Fargo Cash Back, and Wells Fargo Secured 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

The Uber Visa Card offers 4% cash back on dining, 3% back on hotels and airfare and 2% back on online purchases without charging an annual fee. Plus, the Uber Visa Card 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 cell phone 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 cell phone. 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

The U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card includes a cell phone protection benefit that covers damage or theft up to $600, with a $25 deductible, for up to two claims ($1,200) per 12-month period. This benefits protects your primary cell phone line and any secondary, additional or supplemental lines when you pay your cell phone 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 cell phone protection worth it?

If you have a credit card that offers cell phone protection, it’s a no-brainer to use this card to pay your cell phone 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 cell phone bills. So, if your family has a $200 cell phone 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 cell phone 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 cell phone coverage, you should evaluate whether the potential money saved by picking up a card that offers this protection and using it to pay your cell phone bill is worth foregoing the points you are currently earning by paying your cell phone 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 in case 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 cell phone.

Additional reporting by Richard Kerr.


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