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If there’s one thing most of us can’t live without, it’s our cell phone. As much as we might have a love-hate relationship with our electronic devices, they’re central to our lives and go with us everywhere. But cell phones are astronomically expensive and extremely fragile — the fear of dropping your phone or having it stolen and being out a good chunk of change is real.
Fortunately, the number of credit cards that offer cell phone protection has been growing in recent years, and now American Express is adding several more to the list. Starting April 1, 2021, Amex is including cell phone protection as a benefit for both new and existing card members on a dozen of its premium credit cards.
The new American Express cell phone protection benefit will be generally limited to cards that come with substantial annual fees. The most prominent is the issuer’s luxury Platinum Card® from American Express. Cell phone protection will also be included on the various bank-specific versions of the Platinum card that are available to customers of Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
Business owners who have the Business Platinum Card® from American Express will also get the new cell phone protection perk, as will card members with the invite-only Centurion Card from American Express — colloquially known as the “Black Card” — and those with the Business Centurion Card.
The issuer’s high-end Delta credit cards will also offer this benefit, including the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, as well as the small-business versions of those two cards, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card.
These cards make up the majority of American Express’ portfolio of high-end cards with annual fees starting at $250 or more. But surprisingly missing from the list are the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Both cards carry $450 annual fees but are not currently slated to get cell phone protection.
Once it launches, this new Amex benefit will cover the cost of repairing or replacing your phone if it’s stolen or damaged, including screen damage, which isn’t always included in cell phone insurance. So if you accidentally drop your phone on the pavement, or if it falls into a pool or goes suspiciously missing in a crowded bar, you’ll be covered. Lost phones are not covered, which isn’t unusual when it comes to credit card cell phone protection.
The benefit will provide up to $800 per claim to cover the cost of repairing or replacing your phone, with a $50 deductible. Card members will be eligible for two approved claims per 12-month period. There’s no extra cost for this new perk — you just need to have paid your previous month’s cell phone bill with the respective card to be eligible.
Compared to other cards that offer cell phone protection, these amounts and terms are pretty typical. Other cards generally cover between $600 to $1,000 per claim with a deductible between $25 and $100, so the coverage being provided by Amex is roughly in the middle of those ranges.
The one aspect of Amex’s coverage that does set this new benefit apart from most other credit cards with cell phone protection is there’s no annual monetary cap, only a cap of two claims every 12 months. That means you could theoretically have up to a total of $1,600 in claims in one year if you had two incidents that each resulted in a full $800 in reimbursement.
Although Amex isn’t offering this new cell phone protection on all its credit cards, there are still a decent number of cards that will come with coverage. But which one is best?
If you’re looking for an Amex card that can protect your cell phone with the lowest possible annual fee, you’ll want to consider the Delta SkyMiles Platinum Amex card. This card charges a not-small $250 annual fee but has a bunch of travel-focused Delta perks, including priority boarding and a free first checked bag when flying Delta, as well as the opportunity to earn Delta elite status faster.
Related: The best credit cards for Delta flyers.
You’ll also get up to $100 in credit to offset the application fee when you apply for a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry membership. And starting with the second year you have the card, you’ll get an annual companion certificate that allows you to fly a companion for free (plus taxes and fees) in Delta’s economy cabin on any domestic round-trip flight.
On the other hand, if you’re a small-business owner looking to also earn extra points when paying your cell phone bill, then the Amex Business Platinum card is your best bet. New card members can earn 85,000 bonus points after spending $15,000 within the first three months after opening the account, plus 5 points for every dollar you spend in five select business categories, up to 80,000 bonus points per category, also within the first three months of card membership.
Fortunately, one of the five bonus categories is US wireless telephone services. This means your entire cell phone bill will earn 5x points for a full three months after you open the card. And existing Business Platinum card members should find a similar offer in the Amex Offers section of their online account on Amex’s website or in the app.
While it’s great to see American Express adding more benefits to its cards, the eligible cards all have high annual fees. Other card issuers offer cell phone protection on lower-priced cards, including a few options that have no annual fee at all.
The Chase Freedom Flex doesn’t carry an annual fee, and the cell phone protection benefit is nearly identical to what you’ll find on the Amex cards. When you pay your monthly cell phone bill with the Freedom Flex, your cell phone is covered for up to $800 per claim with a $50 deductible, and two claims are allowed every 12 months.
But there’s one difference — with the Chase Freedom Flex, there’s a total cap of $1,000 in reimbursements over the course of any 12-month period. So if you have an expensive phone and think you might use the benefit twice per year and come close to the caps, then the extra Amex protection might make paying an annual fee worth it.
For small-business owners, another option to consider is the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which allows as many as three claims every 12 months under its cell phone protection and has only a $95 annual fee. You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar spent on several eligible business categories, up to $150,000 in combined purchases each year, and one of those categories is phone services.
This means your entire cell phone bill will receive 3x points on the Ink Business Preferred for as long as you have the card. However, the big difference is that you’re capped on this card at $600 per claim, and the deductible is $100. That’s a significantly lower maximum and higher deductible than Amex’s coverage.
In the end, there’s no reason not to have a credit card that offers cell phone protection, as it’s a great money-saving perk in the case of a cell phone disaster. And with American Express bringing this coverage to a wide swath of its premium cards, there will soon be even more ways to make sure you don’t get stuck with a huge bill if the worst happens to your favorite electronic device.
Click here for all the terms and conditions of the new cell phone protection coverage on American Express cards.
Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards of 2021.