This is exciting — American Express has just added cell phone protection to several cards, and it even includes coverage for cracked screens (which is typically excluded from this type of coverage with other card issuers)!
How does Amex cell phone protection work?
As of April 1, 2021, American Express is adding a new cell phone protection benefit for eligible U.S. consumer and small business cards. Here are the basics of how this coverage works:
- If a cell phone is stolen or damaged, including a cracked screen, card members can be reimbursed for the repair or replacement costs
- The fact that this covers screen damage is noteworthy, since many other cards offering a similar benefit explicitly exclude cosmetic damage (which this is typically considered to be)
- This coverage is valid for up to two approved claims, for a maximum of $800 per claim, and $1,600 per 12-month period
- There’s a $50 deductible per claim
- The cell phone line needs to be listed on a wireless bill, and the prior month’s wireless bill needs to be paid with the eligible card
More details about the benefit can be found in the guide to benefits.
Which Amex cards are offering cell phone protection?
American Express will offer the new cell phone protection benefit on the following cards:
- Platinum Card from American Express
- Business Platinum Card from American Express
- Centurion Card from American Express
- Business Centurion Card from American Express
- Delta SkyMiles Platinum American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card
- Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business American Express Card
My take on Amex’s new cell phone benefit
I’m thrilled to see American Express add cell phone protection as a benefit on some of its premium cards. This is a huge value-add, especially when you consider how expensive cell phones are nowadays.
Personally I’m trying to figure out what this means for my credit card strategy, as I try to balance maximizing points with getting the best cell phone coverage possible:
- Currently I use the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card (review) for my cell phone bill, as the card offers cell phone protection and earns up to 3x Ultimate Rewards points on cellular purchases; I value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so that’s like a 5.1% return on my cell phone spending
- There’s an opportunity cost there in terms of points, as I also have the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card (review), which doesn’t offer cell phone protection, but earns up to 5x Ultimate Rewards points on cellular purchases; in other words, I could be earning an 8.5% return, but I guess I’m forgoing an incremental 3.4% return in order to get cell phone coverage
- The issue with eligible Amex cards is that none of them offer bonus points for cell phone spending, though unlike the coverage I currently have, they offer coverage for cracked screens; I value Amex Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so I’d be giving up an incremental 3.4-6.8% return compared to the other cards I could use
I don’t think this new benefit will change much for my strategy, since I’ll continue to use the Ink Business Preferred for my cell phone bill, balancing cell phone coverage with maximizing points. However, I’d say there aren’t really any compelling personal cards that offer cell phone protection and bonus points on these purchases, so this could be the best option for that.
Deciding which card to use for my cell bill
Amex has added cell phone protection (including for cracked screens) to some of its premium cards. It’s always great to see more cards adding cell phone coverage, given how expensive phones are nowadays.
The issue is that there’s often a tradeoff between maximizing points and taking advantage of coverage like this. In my case I don’t think it’ll cause me to switch the card I use for my cell phone bill, though I’m sure this will prove valuable to others.
Kudos to American Express for continuing to innovate. This is a great permanent feature, in addition to all of the temporary perks that Amex has added to cards lately.
Do you plan on taking advantage of Amex’s new cell phone coverage on select cards?