Skip to content
Home » Cell phone protection

Cell phone protection

Broken iPhone with a cracked screen.
A broken phone can set you back hundreds of dollars. But not if you have cell phone protection.

Cell phone protection can reimburse you if you damage your mobile phone or if your phone is stolen. Many credit cards, including many no-annual-fee credit cards, offer this benefit when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your credit card. In most cases, cell phone protection does not cover loss of a cell phone.

If you have a credit card that offers cell phone protection, you should use it to pay your monthly phone bill, even if you have a rewards credit card that offers greater rewards. The cost to repair or replace your phone is likely to be much greater than the rewards you could receive, even if you pay your cell phone bill with the most generous rewards card.

What is typically covered?

Cell phone protection typically covers repair or replacement of a phone if it is stolen or damaged. Most cell phone protection plans do not cover loss of a cell phone, but some will cover “involuntary and accidental parting” where you know the location of your mobile phone, but it is impractical to retrieve.

Here’s what is typically covered and excluded:

  • Stolen phones – Stolen phones are usually covered by cell phone insurance. Be sure to file a police report within 48 hours after your phone is stolen.
  • Damage that makes your phone unusable – If you damage your phone and your phone becomes unusable, you are usually covered.
  • Cracked screens – Some cell phone protection benefits exclude cracked screens that do not affect your phone’s functionality.
  • Prepaid phones – Prepaid phones plans are frequently excluded from coverage. American Express and Chase exclude prepaid phones. Wells Fargo’s insurance does not exclude prepaid phones.
  • Lost phones – Almost all cell phone insurance benefits exclude lost phones and phones that “mysteriously disappear.”
  • Other devices – . If you have an iPad, smartwatch, or other device connected to your cell phone plan, it will usually not be eligible for any coverage under cell phone protection.

If your phone is stolen or damaged, you will typically be able to receive reimbursement for repair or replacement of your phone. In some cases, cell phone protection may replace your phone with an equivalent phone or provide you with a payment based on the current value of your phone.

Credit card cell phone protection is secondary insurance

Cell phone protection is usually secondary insurance, meaning that you must claim against other insurance first. Other insurance that could cover your cell phone might include:

  • Cell phone protection plans offered by your cell phone carrier
  • Purchased extended warranties that cover accidental damage, theft or loss (such as AppleCare+)
  • Homeowner’s, renter’s, or automobile insurance
  • Insurance policies that may cover you on a business trip

How to activate coverage

You generally activate cell phone protection by paying your monthly cell phone bill with a credit card offering this benefit.

Coverage usually does not start immediately. The cell phone protection benefits offered on many Visa, Mastercard and American Express credit cards only become effective in the month following your first monthly charge of your cell phone bill to your cards. In addition, you must continue to pay your monthly cell phone bill with your eligible card; coverage will stop if you stop paying your monthly cell phone bill with your credit card.

If you have a prepaid phone service that you pay for every few months or annually, you likely will not qualify for credit card cell phone protection. Most cell phone protection benefits require you to pay a monthly cell phone bill with your card to be eligible for coverage.

What to do if you need to make a claim

Your credit card’s benefits guide will have the details of how to file a cell phone protection claim. Generally, you must provide documentation to substantiate your claim, including:

  • A copy of your wireless bill showing that you paid with your eligible credit card
  • Proof that your claimed device was linked to your wireless account
  • A police report if your cell phone was stolen
  • Photos of your damaged phone
  • A repair estimate or a receipt showing the purchase of a replacement phone

You must submit a claim within a reasonable amount of time after your phone damaged or stolen. Additionally, if your phone is stolen, you will typically need to provide a police report, filed soon after you discover your phone is stolen. Your guide to benefits will provide time limits for submitting your claims.

Which credit cards offer cell phone protection?

Many no annual fee cards offer cell phone protection. You may even hold one of these cards already.

Here is a summary of the cell phone protection benefits offered by many popular credit cards.

We update this list continuously, but be sure to check your credit card’s most current guide to benefits for the details of your credit card’s cell phone protection benefits.

IssuerProduct NameAnnual FeeCoverage MaximumDeductibleScreen CoverageInvoluntary and Accidental PartingPrepaid Phones
Wells FargoWells Fargo Active Cash® Card$0$600 per claim
2 claims per 12 month period
$1,200 per 12 month period
$25.00Partial: Cracked screens that do not affect functionality are not coveredCovered
Wells FargoWells Fargo Autograph℠ Card$0$600 per claim
2 claims per 12 month period
$1,200 per 12 month period
$25.00Partial: Cracked screens that do not affect functionality are not coveredCovered
ChaseChase Freedom Flex℠$0$800 per claim
$1,000 per year
$50.00Partial: Screen cracks less than 2 inches in length that do not impact making and receiving phone calls are not coveredNot CoveredExcluded
Capital OneVenture X Rewards$395$800 per claim
$1,600 per 12 month period
American ExpressThe Platinum Card® from American Express$695$800 per claim
2 claims per 12 month period
$50.00CoveredNot CoveredExcluded