Many top credit cards today come packaged with additional benefits to protect your purchases or reimburse travel plans, but cellphone insurance is a valuable under-the-radar credit card perk that many issuers don’t heavily advertise.

Although cellphone insurance isn’t a perk worth hinging your credit card decision on, it does add some extra peace of mind that could tip the balance if you’re on the fence. Getting cellphone protection from your wireless carrier would typically cost you around $10 to $15 per month, but the coverage you could get from your card may end up being a better policy in addition to these savings—once you dig into how credit card cellphone protection works.

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What is cellphone insurance?

Cellphone insurance is an ongoing protection plan that may either replace your phone or reimburse you for repairs or a new device once you file an eligible loss or damage claim—after ponying up for the out-of-pocket deductible, of course (at least $20 to $50, usually).

The most common sources of phone protection are your service provider (AT&T or Verizon, for example), phone maker (Apple, Samsung and others) or the retailer you bought it from, but Experian notes that many of these providers go through the Asurion or Assurant insurance companies anyway.

A cash reimbursement is a more flexible solution in most cases, but these providers may decide to send you a refurbished model of your phone as a replacement instead. Even then, you may face more fees and replacement costs with these companies.

The refurbished phones they provide may lead to problems of their own, and purchasing cellphone insurance isn’t the most valuable use of your money unless you have an expensive phone and intend to upgrade every year or two.

Receiving cellphone protection from your credit card may be the more valuable route for many cardholders, since you may be more likely to receive coverage in the form of reimbursement. Plus, credit card coverage only requires you to pay your phone bill with that card each month instead of shelling out monthly insurance payments. (Just don’t forget to pay your bill with your card, or your coverage will lapse until the month after you the bill with your card again.)

What does cellphone insurance cover?

Depending on the type of cellphone insurance or credit card you choose, the number of claims, covered incidents and monetary coverage per claim and year may differ. It’s important to read your card benefits guide carefully to understand whether your device or foreseeable damage will be covered in the first place.

You should know from the get-go that your card’s phone coverage is also classified as “secondary insurance.” This means your card’s reimbursement would fill in the gaps after any other applicable policy like homeowner’s insurance, renter’s insurance, your manufacturer’s warranty or an existing cellphone insurance plan would come into effect. You’ll need to file a claim under these policies before submitting the remainder for reimbursement under your card’s phone protection.

Tip: If you have a family phone plan, some insurance policies may limit the number of protected phones connected with your phone account, but most credit card phone insurance plans will cover all phone numbers on your bill. For example, eligible American Express cards will protect all devices with their phone number on the latest phone bill paid with by the eligible card.

Eligible credit card cellphone protection incidents

Credit card cellphone protection plans typically cover damage and loss up to the cost of your phone, or up to $600 per claim on average. Most cards’ cellphone protection plans allow you two claims per year with a $1,000 total reimbursement across the year at a $50 deductible. However, the best cards for phone insurance have higher claim caps.

Credit card cellphone insurance policies generally reimburse you for damage reported within 90 days, but stolen phones usually require a claim and police report filed within 48 hours. Credit cards usually cover your phone in the event of:

  • Accidental damage that affects your phone’s ability to function
  • Theft
  • Accidental or involuntary parting, meaning the phone is irretrievable (such as after dropping it into deep water or off a cliff)

However, the following cases usually aren’t covered by credit card phone protection:

  • Cosmetic damage and normal wear and tear that doesn’t impair your phone’s functions (like minor scratches and scuffs)
  • “Lost” phones that mysteriously disappeared
  • Used, secondhand or refurbished phones and “pay-as-you-go” phones that are prepaid or leased by the month
  • Water damage and electronic damage (or, non-visible or internal component damage) may not be covered, depending on the context
  • Losses covered by other primary insurance plans and your phone or carrier’s warranty
  • Voluntarily parted or misdelivered phones
  • Damaged non-stock parts or accessories for your phone (for example, phone cases, batteries, SD cards and other parts that didn’t originally come with the phone)
  • Phones that were damaged, lost or stolen under the care of common carriers, such as delivery and postal services or airlines (generally, phones must be hand-carried while traveling instead of packed in luggage)
  • Intentional damage or abuse
  • Loss or damage from acts of nature, radiation, vermin, hostilities, acts of war, “inherent” product defects, illegal activities and confiscation by authorities
  • Work phones used for commercial purposes (if you’re covering it with a consumer credit card)
  • Fraudulent reimbursement filings

Some cards’ benefits guides have specific language about covered incidents that you should consider in your decision. For example, cracked screens are some of the most common cases of phone damage, but are usually defined as cosmetic damage.

Mastercard specifies that screen cracks under two inches long that don’t affect phone calls or other features aren’t covered, so Mastercards may give you a leg up if you get bigger cracks in a key area of your screen. On the other hand, Mastercard may not be the best choice for phone protection if you’re a construction worker, since a quirk in the company’s policy mentions that phones stolen from construction sites aren’t covered.

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When filing a claim for your credit card’s cellphone protection, it’s helpful to have these documents on hand:
  • A copy of your phone protection and other primary insurance (if applicable) policy terms
  • Your latest card account statement that shows you paid your cellphone bill with your credit card
  • Record of your most recent cellphone bill payment
  • Copy of a purchase receipt, serial number and other proof showing it’s your phone
  • Proof of damage and circumstances and a repair estimate for damage or involuntary parting claims
  • Copy of a police report filed within the past 48 hours for a theft claim]

Which credit cards have cellphone insurance?

Whether your credit card offers cellphone insurance mainly depends on your specific credit card, card issuer and card network. Wells Fargo is the only issuer that provides cellphone protection on all personal credit cards—up to $600 per claim with a $25 deductible and two claims per year for a $1,200 yearly coverage limit. American Express also added cellphone protection to four of its personal cards and business card equivalents in April 2021:

These Amex cards offer up to two claims per year with an $800 coverage per claim and a $50 deductible, but the yearly coverage cap isn’t defined. The assumed $1,600 annual coverage cap would be one of the highest limits available, so be sure to check your particular card agreement for your concrete terms.

Otherwise, the perk is usually provided through your Visa or Mastercard benefit tier. Your roster of network perks depends on how the issuer classifies each of its cards—and whether it’ll even provide phone protection on that card—but you’ll usually begin to see cellphone protection offered on Visa Signature cards, World Mastercards and World Elite Mastercards.

The cellphone coverage you’ll receive through Visa tends to differ from card to card and is harder to find, but phone protection is a more consistent Mastercard benefit. World Mastercards typically offer up to $600 per claim with a $50 deductible, two claims per year and a $1,000 annual coverage cap while World Elite Mastercards generally increase their coverage to $800 per claim.

Which credit cards have the best cellphone protection coverage?

Since the covered incident terms are similar card-to-card, the best cellphone protection coverage depends on which aspect of the plan you’re most interested in: the deductible, number of claims per year, maximum coverage per claim or maximum coverage per year.

Cards with the most claims per year

Most personal credit cards only provide two claims each year, but a few business credit cards offer up to three claims per year. The Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card and the Capital One Spark Cash Plus (with Enhanced Visa Signature for Business perks) card’s three-claim yearly maximum make their cellphone protection plans fantastic options for small businesses that need to insure several employee phones.

Cards with the lowest deductibles

Your deductible also factors into the potential claim coverage since a certain amount will have to come out of pocket. A $50 deductible is standard, but the lowest possible deductible is $25, which you’ll find on Wells Fargo credit cards—like the Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card—and the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card.

Cards with the highest coverage per claim

When it comes to the maximum coverage per claim, $800 is the highest currently available. The previously mentioned premium American Express cards are top choices since they offer up to $800 per claim, but World Elite Mastercards are hands-down the best options if you don’t need the Platinum Card or an elite Delta Air Lines credit card.

World Elite Mastercards can be much more accessible and include a variety of personal cards and business cards, such as the:

Cards with the highest coverage per year

Business credit cards tend to have the highest monetary coverage per year among card protection plans. At first glance, the Ink Business Preferred card’s implied $1,800 annual coverage limit ($600 per claim for three claims per year) is the highest, but since it has a steep $100 deductible, you technically end up with more coverage with the Enhanced Visa Signature Business version of the Capital One Spark Cash Plus since its $50 deductible doesn’t eat into its $1,800 yearly coverage cap as much.

Close behind are The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card with an assumed $1,600 annual coverage limit ($800 per claim for two claims per year).

Best credit cards for cellphone insurance

Card name Best for Cellphone protection
Chase Freedom Flex℠ Cash back
  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,000
  • Deductible: $50
The Platinum Card® from American Express General travel
  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,600*
  • Deductible: $50
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card Airline travel
  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,600*
  • Deductible: $50
IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card Hotel travel
  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,000
  • Deductible: $50
Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students Students
  • Max per claim: $600
  • Max annual coverage: $1,000
  • Deductible: $50
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card Businesses
  • Max per claim: $600
  • Max annual coverage: $1,800*
  • Deductible: $100
Wells Fargo Reflect® Card Balance transfers
  • Max per claim: $600
  • Max annual coverage: $1,200
  • Deductible: $25

Chase Freedom Flex: Best for cash back

  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,000
  • Annual claims: Two
  • Deductible: $50
  • Coverage source: Network (World Elite Mastercard)
  • Rewards rate on cellphone bill payments: 5 percent cash back (up to $1,500 on eligible, activated quarters) on up to $1,500, then 1 percent

Besides the Ink Business Preferred card, the Chase Freedom Flex card is the only other Chase card that provides cellphone protection. Its other rich benefits, excellent rewards card pairing compatibility and well-rounded rewards make it perhaps the most valuable cash back card to insure your cellphone.

In fact, Chase’s rotating category calendar usually earns 5 percent cash back (up to $1,500 per quarter in combined bonus category spending, then 1 percent) on phone services during the activated January to March period.

The Platinum Card from American Express: Best for general travel

  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,600*
  • Annual claims: 2
  • Deductible: $20
  • Coverage source: Issuer (American Express)
  • Rewards rate on cellphone bill payments: 1X Membership Rewards points

As one of the top cards for travel on the market, Amex’s Platinum Card naturally takes the cake in the travel category. In fact, it’s one of the few general-purpose travel cards and elite travel cards to actually offer cellphone protection. Even so, its protection plan is one of the best you’ll find on a personal credit card—even topping World Elite Mastercard and Wells Fargo credit card cellphone insurance.

Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card: Best for airline travel

  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,600*
  • Annual claims: 2
  • Deductible: $50
  • Coverage source: Issuer (American Express)
  • Rewards rate on cellphone bill payments: 1X Delta SkyMiles

Not many airline-specific cards provide cellphone insurance, but Delta Air Lines loyalists will enjoy this extra perk on top of the trove of other premium benefits. Cardholders who want a bit more everyday utility may prefer the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card, which carries the same Amex phone insurance plan and adds 2X-mile bonus categories for U.S. supermarkets and restaurants at a lower $250 annual fee (compared to the SkyMiles Reserve’s $550).

IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card: Best for hotel travel

  • Max per claim: $800
  • Max annual coverage: $1,000
  • Annual claims: 2
  • Deductible: $50
  • Coverage source: Network (World Elite Mastercard)
  • Rewards rate on cellphone bill payments: 1X IHG Rewards points

Branded hotel credit cards that also insure your phone are in short supply, but the IHG Rewards  Premier is an easy option for frequent IHG guests. Casual property visitors may prefer the IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card* since it doesn’t have an annual fee, but its World Mastercard status means slightly lower cellphone coverage: up to $600 per claim (up to two claims per year) with a $50 deductible and up to $1,000 in claims per year.

Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students: Best for students

  • Max per claim: $600
  • Max annual coverage: $1,000
  • Annual claims: 2
  • Deductible: $50
  • Coverage source: Network (Standard Mastercard)
  • Rewards rate on cellphone bill payments: 1 percent cash back

Finding a credit card for limited history with valuable additional features can be difficult to begin with, and the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students is a solid option since it provides both 1 percent cash back on all purchases and cellphone protection. Granted, a $600 claim may not totally reimburse students for a new phone, but cellphone insurance (no matter the coverage) is perhaps one of the most helpful card perks for students—especially since this card is available for international students without a Social Security number.

Ink Business Preferred Credit Card: Best for businesses

  • Max per claim: $600
  • Max annual coverage: $1,800*
  • Annual claims: 3
  • Deductible: $100
  • Coverage source: Network (Visa Signature for Business)
  • Rewards rate on cellphone bill payments: 3X Ultimate Rewards points (on the first $150,000 spent on phone services and other select categories each account anniversary year)

The Ink Business Preferred card was selected since its lower $95 annual fee, higher rewards rate on phone services, comprehensive perks and flexible rewards make it a more versatile pick for a wider range of businesses. However, the Capital One Spark Cash Plus (which carries the same phone protection as the Ink Business Preferred, but with a smaller $50 deductible) is a better choice for big-spending business owners, and frequent business travelers with more expensive phones may prefer Amex’s plush Business Platinum Card.

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card: Best for balance transfers

  • Max per claim: $600
  • Max annual coverage: $1,200
  • Annual claims: 2
  • Deductible: $25
  • Coverage source: Issuer (Wells Fargo)
  • Rewards rate on cellphone bill payments: N/A

If you need one of the longest 0 percent intro APR periods on purchases and balance transfers available, then the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card and its up to 21 months of zero percent intro APR on both purchases and qualifying balance transfers from account opening (then 15.24 percent to 27.24 percent, variable; transfers must be made within the first 120 days) is the answer. Few balance transfer cards offer much ongoing value in the form of rewards or ongoing benefits, but the Reflect card is one of the few to do so through cellphone insurance against damage or theft. Plus, its annual coverage cap exceeds that of World Elite Mastercards in exchange for a lower per-claim coverage maximum. Just be sure to plan on making on-time, minimum payments without missing a single deadline throughout the intro period—otherwise, the intro APR length won’t be extended from its original 18 months.

Although you shouldn’t miss a payment while focusing on whittling down your balance, the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers equivalent cellphone protection with an upfront 20-billing cycle intro zero-interest offer on both purchases and balance transfers (then 16.74 percent to 26.74 percent, variable; transfers must be made within the first 60 days).

Other ways to get cellphone protection

Besides primary cellphone insurance from a phone provider or retailer, the secondary insurance from your credit card or other policies like homeowner’s or renter’s insurance (if your phone is damaged or stolen within your home), you may be able to get a bit of extra upfront coverage on your cellphone purchase from your card’s extended warranty and purchase protection benefits.

Most credit cards’ purchase protection benefits can reimburse new cellphones bought with your card that are damaged or stolen within your first 90 days for up to $1,000, which could cover the cost of many top-of-the-line phones. Plus, that same phone purchase may also be protected by your card’s extended warranty coverage, which may add an extra year or even double the phone’s manufacturer’s warranty. Your extended warranty perk may also cover incidents that aren’t eligible for your card’s cellphone protection, such as product defects.

Is cellphone insurance worth it?

Using a credit card’s cellphone protection is absolutely worthwhile since it’s essentially a free $600 to $800 credit toward phone repair or replacement. Plus, it would save you money on monthly payments for primary cellphone insurance.

Credit cards with phone insurance are best for anyone with a cellphone bill, but especially for those whose phones are at a slightly higher risk and could use the financial peace of mind, such as students, bill payers with a family phone plan and employees who use their personal phone at accident-prone workplaces.

Overall, cellphone protection is helpful, but it isn’t a perk worth actively pursuing or basing your credit card decision on. After all, $600 to $800 of coverage may not cover the whole phone, since they can easily cost $1,000 or more. However, phone protection should weigh in if you plan to earn rewards on your monthly phone bill with your new card.

*Although not stated explicitly in the public benefit terms, this maximum annual coverage limit is implied by the maximum coverage per claim plus the maximum number of claims yearly claims. Check with your issuer to be certain of your potential annual coverage.
The information about the Capital One Walmart Rewards® Mastercard®, IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, IHG® Rewards Traveler Credit Card and U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.