Citi Prestige Cell Phone Protection Benefit: Full Details

Filed Under: Citi, Credit Cards
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This is an update to a previous post, to note that we now have a lot more details about the specifics of the Citi Prestige cell phone protection benefit.

Some significant changes are being made to the Citi Prestige Card this year. Some of these are positive, while some are negative.

As of January of this year the card offers 5x points on dining and airfare, which is a fantastic development, as it makes the Citi Prestige my go-to card for purchases in those categories.

However, there are some more changes coming to the card. For example:

  • As of May 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige will offer a new cell phone protection plan
  • As of August 31, 2019, the Citi Prestige will no longer offer 2x ThankYou points on entertainment
  • As of September 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit will be capped at two bookings per year, and will only be bookable through the ThankYou site or call center (this is a bummer)
  • As of September 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige will no longer let you redeem points for 1.25 cents each towards airfare (but rather only at one cent each)
  • As of September 1, 2019, the Citi Prestige annual fee will be increasing from $450 to $495

How Citi Prestige cell phone protection will work

In early March Citi revealed many of the details regarding their cell phone protection benefit, as they weren’t previously known. As we learned, the Citi Prestige cell phone benefit:

  • Covers up to $1,000 per claim
  • Covers up to $1,500 per year
  • Has a $50 deductible per claim
  • Applies to damage and theft to cell phones
  • Is available for up to five cell phones when the monthly phone bill is paid with the Citi Prestige Card
  • Will allow claims to be filed online

Citi’s research suggests that this benefit resonates strongly with consumers. As they explain:

20% of affluent Americans having dropped their cell phone in a toilet, 11% having had it stolen, and 8% even putting it through the washing machine!

While totally tangential, have 20% of “affluent Americans” really dropped their cell phone in a toilet? My goodness!

Specifics of the Citi Prestige cell phone benefit

As noted by Doctor Of Credit, the additional update now is that Citi has revealed their full guide to protection benefits, which has even more information on this benefit.

For example, this plan doesn’t cover cracks if they don’t impact your ability to make calls:

Cosmetic damage to the Eligible Cellular Wireless Telephone or damage that does not impact the Eligible Cellular Wireless Telephone’s ability to make or receive phone calls (including minor screen cracks and fractures less than 2 inches in length that do not prevent the ability to make or receive phone calls or to use other features related to making or receiving phone calls)

Furthermore, if your phone is stolen, you need to file a police report within 48 hours:

Stolen means taken by force and/or under duress or a loss which involves the disappearance of an Eligible Cellular Wireless Telephone from a known place under circumstances that would indicate the probability of theft and for which a police report was filed within forty-eight hours of the theft

There are lots of other details, so make sure you check out the full guide to benefits if you plan on using this perk.

How does that compared to the Ink Preferred cell phone protection?

Personally I put my cell phone bill on the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, since currently that’s one of the best cards in terms of the cell phone protection benefit offered.

To compare the two, the Ink Business Preferred plan:

  • Covers up to $600 per claim
  • Covers up to three claims per year (meaning a maximum of up to $1,800)
  • Has a $100 deductible per claim
  • Applies to damage and theft to cell phones
  • Is available for you and your employees when the monthly bill is paid with the Ink Business Preferred

So on the surface the Citi Prestige benefit is a bit better:

  • It covers up to $1,000 per claim rather than up to $600 per claim (and given how expensive cell phones are nowadays, that can make a big difference)
  • The deductible is $50 rather than $100

There are two downsides, though. First of all, you’re limited to $1,500 per year in claims, which is a bit lower than on the Ink Preferred, depending on how you look at it.

However, arguably the biggest downside is that the Citi Prestige offers just 1x points per dollar spent on paying your cell phone bill, while the Ink Preferred offers 3x points on those purchases.

I value both Chase and Citi points at ~1.7 cents each, so we’re talking about one card offering a 1.7% return and another card offering a 5.1% return, which is a difference of 3.4%.

My cell phone bill is about $300 per month (I have an incredible international plan, at least when it works, and I have five people on my plan). So over the course of a year that’s $3,600, meaning I’d be forgoing 7,200 points by paying with the Citi Prestige rather than the Ink Preferred. I value those points at ~$122, so is it worth giving up that value for the Citi Prestige protection? In other words, is it worth paying ~$10 per month for that incremental protection?

Bottom line

It’s so great to see an all around compelling personal credit card introduce a useful cell phone protection benefit. I’m happy to see the high limit per claim and low deductible, given how expensive cell phones have become.

The major downside is that the card offers only one point per dollar on cell phone spend, so I hate putting my monthly bill on that card, when I could be earning 3-5x points on other cards. Furthermore, just keep in mind some of the other specifics, like needing to file a police report if your phone is stolen, the benefit not kicking in if your screen is cracked but it still works, etc.

What do you make of the Citi Prestige cell phone protection benefit? Do you plan on using it?

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  1. Sad to report that I have dropped my cell phone in a toilet (at home).

    Wiped it down with Lysol wipes. It works fine.

  2. So how will the 2x per year fourth night free work when implemented. Do you get twice from 9/1 to 12/31, or do uses prior to 9/1 in 2019 count?

    And is it based on date of stay or date of credit posting?

  3. “20% of affluent Americans having dropped their cell phone in a toilet”.

    I’m curious to know which one.

  4. I still have my Ink Plus so I am earning 5x on cell phone bills… so this is even larger difference.. 6.8% difference.. that makes me pause..

  5. Important fine print question: the Ink Preferred does NOT cover cell phones being financed over time. Since pretty much every carrier wants you to finance phones these days (as the ‘new’ version of contracts):


  6. Major typo: It’s not, “20% of affluent Americans…”

    It’s, “20% of effluent Americans…”

  7. @ Dogtor — Thanks for asking this important question! Now, let’s hope somebody answers it.

  8. I’m not sure why ink is a better protection program. Their maximum claim is limited to $600 and the deductible is higher. Considering the sky high prices on the new devices for their repair and a lower deductible makes it much much better with Citi.

    On the other hand Citi limits it to $1500 a year, while Chase isn’t too better at $1800.

    Luckily I’ve been paying my bills on Citi prestige for the past few months and is great news moving forward!

  9. the difference in deductible makes that $1800/$1500 yearly max much closer than it looks on the surface, too.

  10. Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa is a much better deal.
    $600 per phone
    $25 deductible
    1.5% cash back
    No annual fee

  11. Lucky, I’m sorry to say that your blog has changed from being a repository of useful trip reviews and insights to constantly shilling for credit cards and rewards programs. Hope you get back to the useful stuff soon.

  12. @Lucky Thank you for this information. For those of us who want points and perks, this is as important as a trip report. Interesting that Citi does not seem to require that the purchase of new phones be on the Prestige Card. I happen to think that the insurance is worth losing a few thousand points a year, even though I have never dropped my phone in the toilet.

  13. The INK Card has a $95.00 a year AF, and when you pay your cell bill you get 5 X, POINTS,

    Just the facts,,,

    Canceled the Citi, you had to book the Hotel through them,

    Instead of receiving the Confrence Rate,,

  14. Anyone know if the insurance covers a lost phone (specifically, the language says stolen or damaged)?

  15. @TravelinWilly

    I fear that because it doesn’t include the word “lost” that probably isn’t covered. Citi hasn’t published a new benefits guide that includes the specific terms yet. Some of these plans explicitly cover loss, others have language that excludes mysterious disappearances.

    I am embarrassed to say that I have dropped my phone in the toilet before, and it was fine. But that pales in comparison to the embarrassment when I dropped my phone into a glass of water, bricking it. Thank goodness most are waterproof these days.

  16. @Brewer – Thank you for the info.

    I have a friend who put his iPhone in the dishwasher once, so fear not, you are doing well with your phone!

  17. Found it in the fine print:

    Under NOT covered: “Eligible Cellular Wireless Telephones which have been
    rented or leased from a person or company other than a
    cellular provider”

    So, that should mean coverage for most/all phones leased through Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Spring, Google Fi, etc.

    That easily trumps the 3x points with the INK card (since many phones are leased and the INK doesn’t cover that)…

  18. How is this administered? In other words, do I need to flow through an insurance company for a repair? Specific repair facilities? And to the earlier questions, does the bill have to paid with the card? If not, how is the phone tied/associated with the card account? Thanks.

  19. @ Dogtor – CIP DOES cover phones under a carrier’s installment plan. I just had a claim pay out. I’m paying no interest on the installments so why not?

  20. @Pam – here’s word for word from the “not covered” section of the CIP benefits:

    “Cellular wireless telephone which has been rented, leased, borrowed
    or cellular wireless telephones that are received as part of a pre-paid
    wireless service plan or “pay as you go” type service plans.”

    AFAIK, the “installment plans” are considered no-interest leases (I think Sprint even calls it a lease). So, either it’s not enforced or you can consider yourself lucky.

  21. How many $450+ cards can a person have in his wallet? This one just doesn’t seem compelling. (I do like my Citi Premier card, though.)

  22. So if you have your phone disappear from your shopping cart (i.e. theft) and immediately file a police report, Citi Prestige would cover it? But if you just “lose” it that isn’t covered? I have Citi Prestige and Chase SR but wondering which would be better, thankfully I’ve never lost or had one stolen but worry about it because of the ridiculous prices of phones these days…You can buy a laptop/desktop or 4 for what you pay for a cell phone anymore.

  23. I got a similar offer on another card awhile back but the fine print noted that the coverage only applied after any other insurance had been used which I took to mean that I would have to make a claim on my homeowners policy and then the credit card would cover the difference. I would be unlikely to want the black mark on my homeowners over something as small as a broken phone so to me it seemed like the insurance from the credit card would basically be unusable by me. Does anyone actually have any experience making a claim to a CC company for a damaged or stolen phone?

  24. Unclear to me whether Citi will only cover the cost to repair a broken phone or will cover the cost of a new replacement phone. The T&Cs are unclear. Does the consumer get to choose between getting reimbursed $400 to fix a broken iPhone 6 or $1k to buy a new iPhone 10? I ask here because we all know no Citi rep will know the answer…

  25. I always pay for my $ 1000 plus phones in full using Costco Citi. That adds 2 years to the Apple warranty. Add that to AppleCare and 4 years total on mfg warranty coverage.

    This CIti Coverage, or my existing Wells Fargo coverage, covers damage and theft, which is not otherwise covered.

    FYI. My daughter left her IPhone in her pocket and threw her jeans in the washing machine, two weeks after her AppleCare expired. Enough said.

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