Citi Prestige Cell Phone Protection Benefit: Details Revealed

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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

Up until now Citi hasn’t really revealed many details about the cell phone protection benefit, though that has finally changed. We now know what we can expect there. When launched, the Citi Prestige’s cell phone protection plan:

  • 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!

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.

I’d say the only 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.

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!

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