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Whether to streamline your expenses, simplify finances, or earn rewards, it’s usually a smart move to pay your bills with a credit card. As long as you aren’t paying any extra processing fees or interest to do so, it can make managing your budget and building up rewards easier too. But are there some credit cards that are better than others when it comes to paying your cell phone bill, in particular?
The answer, of course, is yes. Between benefits and added protections, certain credit card products make paying your cell phone bill smarter than ever. The best benefit offered is cell phone loss or damage protection. This coverage is especially useful in this age of $1,000 smartphones and with the disappearance of those lovely “upgrade discounts” that we all used to enjoy.
So, which credit card products will cover you if you drop your phone in the pool or it’s stolen? Here’s a look at the 11 cards you should absolutely be using for that monthly cell phone bill if you want added protection, and exactly what they each offer.
Chase Ink Business Preferred
If you carry the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase, you should consider using it to pay your cell phone bill each month. On top of earning rewards of 3 points per dollar spent, you’ll also get automatic cell phone coverage in case your device is damaged or stolen.
Cell phone coverage through Chase is limited to $600 per claim, with a maximum of three claims in a 12-month period and $1,800 in claims per 12-months. If you elect to utilize this offered protection, you’re subject to a $100 deductible per claim.
If you didn’t know the Chase Ink Preferred also comes with a great sign-up bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points worth at least $800 in statement credits or $1,000 in travel.
Of course, there are a few caveats. First, if your cell phone is covered by an insurance plan offered by your provider, or through a personal property/home insurance policy, damage may not be covered (at least, not in full).
If you have accessories added to the device, these are not covered under the protection benefit. If your cell phone was purchased for resale, the benefit does not apply. Also, if your phone was stolen from your checked baggage, was stolen in transit while in the possession of a common carrier (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.), wasn’t purchased from an authorized retailer (such as if you bought the phone on eBay), if it’s stolen after you voluntarily leave it somewhere, or if you are under a pay-as-you-go service plan, you probably won’t receive the benefit.
So, what qualifies as damage? Well, if your phone is only cosmetically damaged and its functions aren’t impacted, Chase won’t pay out to replace it. If it’s damaged from abuse, neglectful or intentional acts, fraud, was involved in an illegal activity, was damaged in a natural disaster, or simply has normal wear and tear, you’re out of luck. However, if you drop the phone down a staircase and can no longer make calls, you’re probably good to go.
Oh, and of course, you need to have used your Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card to pay the bill in order to utilize this coverage.
If your phone was stolen or damaged, you’ll need to file a claim within 60 days of the incident. To avoid claim denial, you’ll also need to provide all required documentation for the phone, incident, etc. within 90 days. If approved, you’ll be subject to the $100 deductible mentioned above, and receive a claim credit toward the purchase of your new device.
To learn more about the Ink Preferred Business Credit Card from Chase’s perks, check out their benefits booklet here.
Wells Fargo Line of Cards
If you carry one of any number of Wells Fargo credit cards and use it to pay your cell phone bill each month, you’ll be afforded a cell phone protection benefit at no additional cost. This benefit is good for as many as four phones per cell plan. It offers a reimbursement up to $600 per claim if your phone is stolen or damaged.
Your account is limited to two claims per 12-month period, for a total benefit amount of up to $1,200 in the same time period. If your coverage is approved, you’ll be subject to a $25 deductible per claim.
As with other cards offering this same type of protection, it is supplemental to any other insurance coverage plans that you may already have on the device, such as an insurance plan through your cell phone provider or a home/valuable personal property policy.
Wells Fargo’s cell phone coverage does not cover lost phones. Similar to the Chase card above, your claim won’t be covered if your phone is stolen from your checked baggage, or because it’s voluntarily left behind. If it’s damaged due to intentional abuse, fraud, a natural disaster, an illegal activity, or through normal wear and tear, you’re out of luck. And if your device wasn’t purchased from an authorized retailer, is a prepaid device, or was purchased for resale, you’ll be denied.
In order to file a claim, you’ll need copies of your credit card statement showing that you paid your cell phone bill with the card during the time of the incident. You’ll also need the store receipt from the purchase of your new phone. Claims must be filed within 60 days of the incident and all requested documentation returned within 90 days to avoid denial.
The credit cards in this family that currently offer a cell phone benefit include the Wells Fargo:
- Rewards Card
- Visa Signature Card
- Cash Wise Visa Card
- Propel American Express Card
- Propel 365 American Express Card
- Cash Back College Card
- Home Rebate Card
To learn more about Wells Fargo’s cell phone protection benefit, you can read the fine print in their info booklet here.
U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Credit Card
Cell phone protection was only recently added to the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card, but it’s a great benefit to have. When you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card, you’ll automatically protect your device against theft or damage. Up to three additional phones on the same account are also covered.
Benefits of this card are limited to up to $600 per claim, for up to two claims per year. You may be subject to a $25 deductible per claim. This coverage is also supplemental to any other policies you have that may cover the device (insurance through your carrier, home/personal property policies, etc.).
If your phone is damaged in a way that doesn’t impact it functionality, it won’t be covered. Also, if your phone only has electrical issues – such as an inability to charge, a battery failure, or a software issue – the benefit does not apply. Lost phones are not covered, nor are prepaid cell phones.
Claims need to be made within 60 days of the incident. All required documentation needs to be submitted within 90 days of the incident. Otherwise, you risk your claim being denied.
For a full list of what is and is not covered by U.S. Bank, check out their guide to benefits here.
First Citizens Credit Cards
If you carry either the First Citizens Smart Option Visa Card or the First Citizens Rewards Visa Card, you’ll automatically receive cell phone protection if you pay your carrier’s bill each month with the card. With the latter, you’ll also receive 1 point for every dollar spent on a qualifying purchase. This makes it double-wise to pay your monthly bill with the card.
Your cell phone will be covered for claims up to $500 per claim. There’s also a limit of two claims (and a $1,000 maximum total) per 12-month period. You may be subject to a $50 deductible per claim, if approved.
The limitations for First Citizens credit cards are similar to the others above. Your phone is only covered if it is damaged or stolen – lost phones are out of luck. The phone must have been purchased from an authorized retailer, not for resale, and not a pay-as-you-go device.
Cosmetic damage does not apply, and the damage needs to actually impact the functionality of the phone. This means that it should prevent you from receiving or making phone calls. If you intentionally abuse your phone, leave it behind, misuse it, or damage it during an illegal act, natural disaster, or through normal wear and tear, you cannot receive coverage.
Also, this coverage is secondary if the device is covered under another plan. This could include an insurance policy through the carrier or with your homeowner’s, renter’s, or personal property company.
Claims need to be made within 60 days of the incident. All requested documentation should be submitted within 90 days of the incident.
For a complete list of rules regarding cell phone coverage from First Citizens, you can view their benefits guide here.
Is It Worth It?
You may be wondering if a credit card’s cell phone coverage is worth utilizing, especially when compared to a carrier’s optional insurance coverage. To that, I say absolutely.
If you’re paying your cell phone bill from your bank account each month, or using a credit card without this kind of protection, you’re missing out on a free benefit that can only help you in the case of a damaged or stolen phone. Even if you’re paying for coverage through your carrier, this can act as a supplemental benefit. Every little bit over coverage will help (usually with a significantly smaller deductible). Plus, if you use certain credit cards, you’ll also be earning rewards on your cell phone bill’s payment each month.
When given the option between using these cards or one without cell phone coverage, the answer is clear. No, the cell phone benefit alone probably isn’t enough to warrant applying for one of these credit card products. However, it can be a huge perk (or even a deciding factor) if you’re comparing a few different options. With its 80,000 point sign-up bonus, 3x points per $1 on cell phone purchases, and up to $1,800 in coverage the Ink Preferred is the clear winner, imho.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.