For many of us, our cell phones are among the most expensive things we own — and something we carry almost everywhere we go. This combination means that breaking one or having one stolen at some point is unfortunately pretty common — and it's a significant financial blow.
While credit card purchase protection can cover a new phone for the first few months, it often only works if the phone is purchased all at once instead of with installment payments, and doesn't provide any protection once that 60-, 90-, or 120-day period ends. Homeowners or renters insurance may cover theft, but not accidental damage, and there are often high deductibles. And insurance plans like AppleCare+, Squaretrade, or coverage purchased through a cell phone company have monthly fees that add up quickly over time.
I've got some good news for you, though: There are credit cards that will provide complimentary cell phone coverage just for paying your phone bill with that card!
Important: Don't take legal advice from a website — make sure you read the full terms and conditions before relying on a credit card to protect your cell phone. For example, all of the cards highlighted here exclude phones on pre-paid service plans.
Additionally, keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards. When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back.
Credit cards that offer cell phone coverage in 2019:
Our favorite cards that offer cell phone coverage
More than a dozen credit cards offer some form of cell phone protection when you use them to pay your phone bill, but these are our top picks due to their overall value, including rewards on your spending and other coverages such as primary rental car insurance.
Wells Fargo Propel American Express card (and other Wells Fargo cards)
Wells Fargo stands out for offering cell phone insurance as a standard benefit on all of its personal credit cards. You'll be covered for up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible, and you can file a maximum of two claims every 12 months.
The points you earn will, of course, vary depending on which Wells Fargo card you have. For example, if you use the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card — which is one of our favorite cash-back cards in the first place — you'll earn 1 point for every dollar spent on your phone bill, but 3 points per dollar spent on travel, dining, gas stations, and select streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Meanwhile, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card will get you 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
If you have a small business or a side gig that qualifies you for a small business credit, the Ink Business Preferred is a no-brainer — in addition to providing up to $600 in coverage (subject to a $100 deductible), it also earns 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar you spend on your phone bill. This card covers damage and theft. There's no limit on the number of phones covered, and Chase will accept up to three claims every 12 months.
The Ink Business Preferred also earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel, shipping, internet, and cable bills, and advertising purchase, up to $150,000 in purchases per year. These points can be transferred to travel partners like United, Southwest, and Hyatt, or redeemed directly for travel purchases at a rate of 1.25 cents per point.
The card also includes trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary car rental coverage, and purchase protection, and has a $95 annual fee.
Uber Visa Card from Barclays
The Uber Visa Card from Barclays is another great option, with no annual fee. It also covers up to $600 per claim for an unlimited number of phones, with a deductible of just $25 — though you can only get reimbursed for up to two claims every 12 months.
Although the Uber Visa offers 4% cash back on dining, 3% cash back on airfare and lodging, and 2% cash back on online purchases, you'll likely only earn 1% cash back on your telephone bill.
Citibank announced cell phone insurance for damage and theft as part of the changes to its flagship Citi Prestige card. You get up to $1,000 per claim and up to $1,500 per year for up to five phones, and there's a $50 deductible.
You'll earn 1 Citi ThankYou point for every dollar spent on your phone bill with this card, but its benefits go well beyond that for other purchases — this card offers 5 points per dollar spent on airfare and dining, and 3 points per dollar spent on cruises and hotels. Like with the Ink Business Preferred, these points can be transferred to airline partners — mostly foreign airlines like Singapore Airlines, Avianca, and Air France/KLM, but if you need to travel domestically, you can use those programs to book flights on their US partners.
You'll also get significant travel perks like a $250 annual travel credit, a 4th Night Free discount on hotels booked through the ThankYou travel website (up to two free nights per year), Priority Pass for airport lounge access, a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment credit, and more. The card does have a $495 annual fee, but it can be worth it if you can regularly put all these benefits to use.
IHG Rewards Club Premier card
This is a World Elite Mastercard, so like other World and World Elite Mastercards the IHG Rewards Club Premier will offer cardholders cell phone protection. However, as The Points Guy reports, this benefit won't go into effect on this card until November 17, 2019.
The card will offer up to $800 per claim and up to $1,000 per year for covered theft of damage, and there will be a $50 deductible.
Beyond cell phone coverage, the IHG Rewards Club Premier offers benefits tailored to travelers who stay at IHG-brand properties like InterContinental, Kimpton, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn. Each year after your account anniversary, you get a free night that you can use at IHG properties that cost up to 40,000 points.
How to use credit card cell phone coverage
The specifics will vary a bit depending on the bank, but typically you can expect to open a claim with the issuer's third-party benefits administrator over the phone.
Then you'll need to submit various documents (by fax or a secure portal) including proof that you paid your phone bill with the card in question; evidence that the damaged or stolen phone was attached to that account; a police report (typically filed within 48 hours) in cases of theft; and an estimate or receipt for repair or replacement.
So before something happens to your phone, make sure that the specific device you're using appears on your carrier's website, and that you're paying the entire phone bill with the credit card in question.
If you already have one of these credit cards that offers cell phone protection, paying your phone bill with that card is an easy win — even if you earn fewer points than you might on another credit card, being able to get reimbursed up to $600 if your phone breaks or gets stolen is worth far more.