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It’s happened to all of us. We’re walking innocently down the sidewalk and our cell phone suddenly slips out of our hand and drops on the pavement — smashed. Or falls out of our back pocket…into the toilet. Or it’s drafted into duty for a dreaded game of “catch the phone” that your kids decide to play when they’re bored one afternoon.
But cell phones aren’t cheap, and when an unfortunate incident happens that requires your phone to be repaired or even replaced, the out-of-pocket costs can be astronomical.
Fortunately, if you have a credit card that offers free cell phone protection and you use that card to pay your monthly cell phone bill, you can save yourself from the potentially huge cost of repairing or replacing it. So if a cell phone “oops” happens to you more times than you’d like to admit, you’ll want to make sure to have the right card to cover it.
The best credit cards with cell phone protection in 2022
- Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for earning flexible points
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Best for earning airline miles
- Capital One Venture X: Best for airport lounge access
- Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card: Best for renters
- U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card: Best introductory rate on purchases
- Citi Prestige® Card: Best for travel benefits
- Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students: Best for students
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card: Best for business owners
It’s important to remember that most cell phone insurance plans will reimburse the cost of replacing or repairing your phone in case of damage or theft. This means if your phone is lost, or has cosmetic damage and still works, you won’t be covered. You also need to pay your cell phone bill with the card each month in order to be protected if the worst happens.
The best credit cards with cell phone protection cover between $600 to $1,000 in costs per claim with a deductible between $25 and $100, and you can typically file two to three claims a year depending on the card. There are other exclusions that won’t pertain to the average person, but you’ll still want to check the terms of your particular credit card to see exactly what’s covered and not covered.
Here’s a comparison of the specific cell phone insurance benefits available on each of these credit cards:
Let’s dive into the details of each of these cards and see which one might be the best choice to cover you when an unfortunate cell phone disaster occurs.
Chase Freedom Flex: Best for earning flexible points
The relatively new Chase Freedom Flex is a game changer for those looking to earn cash back that can be converted into travel points with the right matching card. Between the Freedom Flex’s benefits and the rewards it earns, it’s no wonder this card has become a popular choice over the last year.
With the cell phone protection that comes on the Chase Freedom Flex, you’ll be covered for up to $800 per claim with a $50 deductible. That’s the highest per-claim maximum on any no-annual-fee credit card with cell phone protection. You’re also allowed to file up to two claims per 12-month period, with a maximum reimbursement amount of $1,000 during that time.
You’ll earn 5% cash back on a set of bonus categories that rotate each quarter on up to $1,500 in spending per quarter, plus 5% cash back on travel purchases made through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% cash back on dining (including takeout and delivery) and 3% cash back at drugstores.
And while the Chase Freedom Flex earns cash back, when you pair it with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can transfer the rewards you earn with your Chase Freedom Flex to the other card, giving you the flexibility to redeem them for travel at a higher value through Chase’s own travel booking site, or transferred to any of Chase’s 14 airline and hotel partners.
Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card: Best for earning airline miles
For years, there was one major benefit missing from all American Express credit cards: cell phone protection. But, as of just recently — April 1, 2021 to be exact — you’ll now find cell phone protection on 12 different Amex cards.
This is a major upgrade for Amex card members, but unfortunately, it’s primarily included only on the issuer’s high-end $500+ annual fee credit cards. However, there are two exceptions — the Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card (see rates and fees) and the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card (see rates and fees), both of which have annual fee of just $250.
This new Amex cell phone benefit includes the cost of repairing screen damage to your phone, which isn’t always the case with other credit card coverage plans, so this is a major plus if you’re someone who often ends up with a cracked screen. The Amex cell phone damage and theft protection covers up to $800 per claim, with a $50 deductible (terms apply). While you’re capped at two claims per 12-month period, there’s no annual monetary cap — unlike many other credit cards that provide a similar benefit.
While $250 a year is still significantly more expensive than most of the cards on our list, the Delta Platinum Amex card — along with the business version — also offers a number of benefits for Delta flyers. With this card, you and up to eight companions on the same reservation can get priority boarding and check your first bag for free when flying Delta.
You also have the ability to earn bonus Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) toward Delta elite status with the card’s Status Boost feature. And starting with the second year you have the card, you get an annual companion certificate that you can use to fly a friend with you for just the cost of taxes and fees (up to $75) on any domestic round-trip Delta flight in the Main Cabin.
Capital One Venture X: Best for airport lounge access
Capital One just came out with a brand new card — the Capital One Venture X — where one of the best perks is that you’ll receive access to Capital One’s new airport lounges and Priority Pass Select membership. This will give you access to 1,300+ lounges worldwide where you can relax and eat before you jet off onto your next flight.
On top of the premium travel and protection benefits, the card also offers cell phone protection. Paying for your monthly cell phone bill with this card will help you in case your phone is lost or damaged, up to $800 per claim. The card allows a maximum of two claims per 12-month period with a $50 deductible per claim. Coverage also applies to all cell phones paid on the monthly bill.
In addition to being protected, you’ll also earn 2 miles per dollar spent on your monthly cell phone bill. If you use your miles to swipe away a future travel purchase, this is effectively giving you 2% back on your bill. But, if you prefer to transfer your points to a partner program, with Capital One points being worth 1.85 cents apiece, based on The Points Guy valuation, this is a 3.7% return. Compared to all of the other personal cards on the list that offer cell phone protection coverage, this is one of the best cards to maximize your points earned.
The card is currently offering a favorable welcome bonus where you’ll earn 100,000 miles after spending $10,000 within the first 6 months. As part of the sign-up bonus, card holders will also receive up to $200 in statement credits for vacation rentals like Airbnb and VRBO.
Although the card costs a substantial $395 annual fee, the card also offers $300 in annual statement credits for bookings made through the newly relaunched Capital One Travel portal, 10,000 bonus miles starting with your first anniversary and up to $100 statement credit for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership once every four years. This is in addition to the cell phone protection and lounge access benefits.
Bilt World Elite Mastercard® Credit Card: Best for renters
Bilt Mastercard is a relatively new credit card to help those paying rent earn rewards — all with no fees attached. Despite not charging an annual fee, you’ll still receive many protection benefits, such as purchase protection, rental car insurance, trip cancellation and delay coverage, and one of our favorites — cell phone insurance.
As long as you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your Bilt Mastercard, you’ll be covered up to $800 per claim (with a $25 deductible) and up to two claims per 12-month period. For a no annual fee card, this is one of the highest coverage amounts you’ll receive, with a a significantly less deductible cost.
When using this card to pay rent — or any other eligible purchase — you’ll earn Bilt Reward points, which can then be redeemed for a discount on your next rent payment or transferred to one of Bilt’s numerous travel partners. Bilt continues to expand their list of airline and loyalty partner programs, with some of the more popular ones including American Airlines AAdvantage, Air Canada Aeroplan, United MileagePlus and World of Hyatt.
One thing to note, however, is that to earn points, you must make at least five transactions that post to your account each statement period. So just paying your rent once a month won’t earn you the full amount of points. You must also use your credit card on other purchases. Fortunately, the card also earns 2x points on travel and 3x points on dining. You’ll then earn an unlimited 1x point on all other purchases, including your rent payments (up to 50,000 points each calendar year).
U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card: Best introductory rate on purchases
Although the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus or earn rewards, it’s by far the best card when it comes to offering an extended introductory rate on both purchases and balance transfers — all while also providing cell phone protection.
Under the card’s cell phone insurance plan, you can be reimbursed for up to $600 per covered incident with a $25 deductible. The coverage is capped at up to $1,200 and two claims per 12-month period.
Although these limits are on the lower side when compared to some of the other cards on our list, the U.S. Bank Visa Platinum Card also comes with an introductory 0% APR for 20 billing cycles on both purchases and balance transfers. The rate then rises to a variable 14.74% to 24.74% once the intro offer expires.
That’s an extremely generous amount of time if you need several extra months to pay down your existing debt, or if you’re looking to make a large purchase. But truthfully, this is probably only a card to get if you’re in need of the introductory offer. If not, then the other cards on our list offer better rewards and overall benefits.
Citi Prestige Card: Best for travel benefits
If you’re in the market for a high-end credit card that offers a slew of travel perks, the Citi Prestige has you covered. Although it’s currently closed to new applicants, if you are already a cardmember and paying the $495 annual fee, you’ll want to make sure you’re using all of the card’s benefits to get your money’s worth — especially right now.
The Citi Prestige comes with some solid travel perks, including your fourth night free when you book a hotel room through the Citi ThankYou website (up to two bookings per year), an annual $250 travel credit which can also be used for supermarket and restaurant purchases in 2021, and a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership. The card also earns 5 points per dollar on airfare and dining, 3 points per dollar for hotels and cruises and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
On the cell phone protection front, you’ll be covered for up to $1,000 per claim with a $50 deductible, which is the highest reimbursement amount of any card on our list. So if you have an expensive cell phone that gets damaged beyond repair, you’ll have $1,000 to help offset the cost of replacing it versus $600 to $800 with other cards. Coverage is capped at $1,500 over a 12-month period, which is also higher than the other cards on our list.
If you’re looking at this card solely for cell phone protection, there are other options with significantly lower annual fees that provide enough insurance to cover most phones. But if you’ll fully utilize the benefits and rewards of the Citi Prestige, then it’s a high-end card worth considering.
Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students: Best for students
Most student-catered credit cards offer minimal benefits — if any at all. But not the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students. For starters, if you’re an international student, you don’t need a Social Security number to apply for the card, which is extremely helpful to those studying in the US from abroad and also makes getting approved easier.
You’ll also have cell phone protection coverage for your entire time as a student, as long as you use this card to pay for your cell phone bill. You can be reimbursed for up to $600 per covered incident, with a $50 deductible and a maximum of $1,000 each 12 months. And unlike most of the other cards on our list, there’s no cap on the number of times you can file a claim.
Other benefits of the Deserve EDU Mastercard for Students include 1% cash back on all purchases, car rental insurance, no foreign transaction fees and one year of Amazon Prime Student after you spend $500 on the card within the first three billing cycles of being a new card holder.
Unexpected out-of-pocket expenses can be very tough on college students, so being able to get approved for a credit card as a student with less hassle, and then also being protected by it against a cell phone mishap, are some great reasons to have this card in your wallet.
Ink Business Preferred: Best for business owners
The Chase Ink Business Preferred was one of the first credit cards to offer cell phone protection, and to this day it’s still one of the best — especially for people with a small business.
The cell phone coverage on this card is better for some but worse for others, depending on your needs. You’ll only be reimbursed for up to $600 per covered claim, and there’s a relatively large $100 deductible, which is at least double than every other card on our list. That could make filing a claim potentially not even worth it if you have an inexpensive phone.
However, the Ink Business Preferred is the only card that has no dollar cap on the amount you can be reimbursed within a year, and it also allows you to file up to three claims per rolling 12 months. So if you’re particularly accident-prone with your phone, you can theoretically be reimbursed a total of $1,800 each year depending on your claim amounts — up to $600 per incident with three claims allowed.
Additionally, the Ink Business Preferred earns 3 points for every dollar you spend on travel, shipping purchases, internet, cable, phone services and advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines (up to $150,000 in combined purchases across all those categories each year, then 1x). This means you’ll earn triple points on your cell phone bill, which is an excellent return.
How to make sure your cell phone is covered
As mentioned earlier, having a credit card with cell phone protection doesn’t necessarily mean you’re automatically covered as soon as you get the card. You’ll need to use that specific credit card each month to pay your entire cell phone bill for the coverage to apply, and most plans don’t kick in until the first day of the month after your first bill payment.
Then, if your cell phone is damaged or stolen, there are several steps you’ll need to follow to get reimbursed. Most credit cards have a set number of days by which you must inform the issuer of an incident and submit the required information. To make sure you don’t have a problem, your best bet is to fill out all the forms as soon as the incident occurs so you don’t accidentally let the deadline pass.
There’s also a lot of information you have to send in, and you’ll want to make sure you follow the requirements to a T. While your credit card’s benefits administrator can help if you’re confused about which credit card statement or phone bill needs to be submitted, we suggest sending in a few months’ worth just to ensure you cover your bases.
Make sure to also get a repair estimate if the phone can be fixed, or proof of purchase of a new phone if it can’t. And if your phone was stolen, you’ll need a copy of the police report, which often must be filed within 48 hours of when the incident occurred.
While the process might sound cumbersome, knowing what to expect ahead of time will prepare you if you ever find yourself in a moment of dread with a damaged or stolen phone. That way, you’ll feel a little better knowing you’re protected with a credit card that’s ready to take a huge burden off your shoulders.
Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards available right now.