NEW BENEFIT: Amex adds cell phone protection to key premium cards

a cell phone with apps on the screen

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American Express has announced that it has enhanced the value offered by a number of its premium cards by adding cell phone protection to the list of benefits that the cards offer. The new benefit is now live and comes with a nice little bonus that most other cell phone protection benefits (those provided by other card issuers) don’t offer.

The cards getting the new benefit

As of 1 April 2021, all of the following cards now offer Amex’s new cell phone protection benefit (terms apply):

The Platinum Cards issues in partnership with Charles Schwab, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, as well as the Centurion Card issued in partnership with Goldman Sachs, all also offer the new cell phone protection benefit.

Amex cell phone protection benefit

Amex’s new cell phone protection benefit was added to all the cards listed above on 1 April 2021.

Who is covered?

Eligible card members, holding an eligible card, with an eligible cellular wireless device are covered.

  • An eligible Card Member means the holder of an eligible card account in good standing who is a U.S. citizen or a legal resident of the U.S. or a U.S. territory, including the
    District of Columbia, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • An eligible card account means all open and valid eligible accounts in good standing with a Card Member of a U.S. Issued American Express account listed above.
  • An eligible cellular wireless telephone is a cellular telephone associated with the primary line and additional or supplemental lines on the eligible person’s
    monthly billing statement from a cellular provider for the billing cycle preceding the month in which the theft or damage occurred.
  • “Eligible Person” means a person to whom an Eligible Card Account is issued from a Participating Organization who charges the monthly bill for an Eligible Cellular
    Wireless Telephone to an Eligible Card Account.

There are a number of (very specific) exceptions which you’ll find listed out on this benefits page.

What’s covered?

  • Reimbursement for the actual cost to repair or replace a stolen or damaged eligible cell phone.
  • Damage to screens (e.g. a cracked screen) is included in the coverage.

How much is the coverage worth?

  • The maximum liability is $800, per claim, per eligible card account.
  • Each claim is subject to a $50 deductible.
  • Coverage is limited to 2 claims per eligible card account per 12 month period.

The total cover available is, therefore, $1,600 per 12 month period with a maximum deductible of $100.

Information Amex wants you to have

Coverage for a Stolen or damaged Eligible Cellular Wireless Telephone is subject to the terms, conditions, exclusions and limits of liability of this benefit. The maximum liability is $800, per claim, per Eligible Card Account. Each claim is subject to a $50 deductible. Coverage is limited to two (2) claims per Eligible Card Account per 12 month period.

  • Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply.
  • Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details.
  • Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

Thoughts

While it may seem a little churlish not to be gushing about how great it is to be given a new free benefit, I can’t help but notice that there’s both good news and bad news here.

The good news is that cracked screens will be covered by this cell phone protection benefit (most other credit card cell phone protection benefits don’t cover this) and that the maximum claim in a 12 month period is a sizeable $1,600 (most other credit card cell phone protection benefits cap the 12-month payout at between $1,000 and $1,500).

The bad news is that it doesn’t appear as if authorized user cards will offer this benefit (I’m waiting to hear back from Amex with confirmation that this is the case) and that the maximum claim for a single incident is $800.

Considering how much some iPhones now cost (the iPhone 14 Pro costs over $1,200), and considering that the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card also offers cover of up to $800 per single claim (albeit capped at $1,000 in a 12-month period), I’d expect credit cards that cost $495+/year to offer a bit more cover than what Amex has announced today.

It’s interesting to see that for once, there’s nothing in Amex’s terms and conditions that limits this benefit to cell phone bills linked to US wireless providers, and that’s very good news for ex-pats. From what I can see, as long as you’re a US citizen with an eligible card, you should be able to make the most of this cover wherever in the world your cell phone bill is issued.

I know that a lot of people currently use the excellent card_name (review) to pay their cell phone bills (the card offers users 3 points/dollar on wireless purchases as well as cell phone protection), but while the Ink card’s coverage extends up to an impressive $1,800 per year, the maximum single claim is just $600 – will we now see people prepared to give up the 3 points/dollar for higher single claim coverage and screen damage coverage with one of the Amex premium cards? I may be tempted.

Lastly, I have to confess to wondering why Amex has decided not to offer cell phone protection on the card_name (review) or the card_name both of which cost at least as much as the card_name. This seems like an odd decision to make at a time when Amex is clearly keen to reinforce the Gold Card’s position in the market.

a close-up of a credit card

Obviously, it’s nice to see a new benefit being added, but I can’t help but think that Amex has missed a good opportunity here. Rather than offering a one-shoe-fits-all benefit for all the cards that will be getting the cell phone benefit, Amex could have introduced a two-tier system – the truly premium cards (annual fees of $495+) could have been given coverage of $1,000 per incident up to $1,500 per year while the rest could have been given coverage of $800 per incident up to $1,200 per year.

To me, that would have made more sense. As it is, a no-annual-fee credit card (Chase Freedom Flex℠ Credit Card) continues to cover my iPhone to almost the same degree as my annual_fees/year Platinum Card (rates & fees), and that makes it hard for me to get overly excited about Amex’s news today.

Bottom line

As of 1 April 2021, a variety of higher-end Amex cards now offer cardholders cell phone protection as part of their benefits package. All the cards offer cardholders up to $800 in cover per claim with a $50 deductible and a limit of 2 claims per eligible card account per 12-month period.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I hold the Delta Sky Miles Platinum American Express credit card & an Apple iPhone 12. How does this new benefit integrate with Apple Care?

    • AppleCare may be more comprehensive but it runs out (and your coverage depends on the AppleCare package you purchased). The cell phone cover from your credit card may be a little more limited but it’s available year after year.

      You’ll have to compare the details linked in the post above to the AppleCare package that you purchased to know more.

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