I was watching TV recently when I saw an ad for a credit card that offered “cell phone protection” as a benefit — and I knew it was something I needed to look into.
The best credit cards for cell phone protection
Money expert Clark Howard has said the mobile phone insurance that wireless providers sell for up to $120 a year isn’t worth it, but this “free” credit card protection really intrigued me.
When I asked Clark about the ad I saw, he told me that the credit card perk is 100% legit:
“Credit card companies are offering a variety of unusual benefits to stand out from one another, including protection for electronics like your cell phone. They want you to pay your cell phone bill with their card. And if you do so, the cell phone may be covered if you break it or it breaks on you.”
Why would credit card companies offer cell phone protection in the first place? Like Clark said, it’s a way for them to get you to think about their card every time you go shopping.
For example, Wells Fargo has several credit cards with this feature. Here are the key details:
- Pay your monthly cell phone bill with an eligible credit card and get up to $600 protection after a $25 deductible
- Coverage may include up to four cell phones listed on your wireless cell phone bill
- The cell phone is protected against damage or theft, but coverage doesn’t include cell phones that are lost
- Receive no more than the value of the original phone or a comparable replacement phone
- Up to two claims in a 12-month period, with a maximum benefit of $1,200
Cardholders typically receive this protection automatically without having to sign up, but you must pay your cell phone bill with an eligible credit card every month to keep the coverage active.
Several card issuers have the same perk, but the maximum benefit and deductibles vary significantly from bank to bank.
I did some research and discovered that some Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank personal credit cards offer the highest maximum cell phone protection coverage per incident:
|Credit card||Maximum coverage per claim||Deductible|
|Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Platinum||$600||$25|
|Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card||$600||$25|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express||$600||$25|
|Wells Fargo Rewards Card||$600||$25|
|Wells Fargo Platinum Card||$600||$25|
|Wells Fargo Cash Back College Card||$600||$25|
|Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card||$600||$25|
|U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Credit Card||$600||$25|
|Barclays Uber Visa Card||$600||$25|
|First Citizens Smart Option Visa Card||$500||$50|
|First Citizens Rewards Visa Card||$500||$50|
|Fifth Third Bank TRIO Credit Card||$200||$50|
|Fifth Third Bank Truly Simple Credit Card||$200||$50|
|Fifth Third Bank Stand Up To Cancer Credit Card||$200||$50|
|Fifth Third Bank Secured Card||$200||$50|
Credit card cell phone protection is supplemental to other types of insurance — like home and automobile — so read the fine print carefully to understand what is and what isn’t covered.
I’ve provided links above to the terms and conditions for all of the credit cards mentioned in this article.
Eligible cards from other banks and credit unions also include this feature with coverage in the $200 range — so you may already have this benefit without even realizing it!