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Your credit card can certainly provide all sorts of vacation-related benefits like bonus points, elite status, upgrades and lounge access. But one of the best and less often discussed perks offered with some cards can improve a major component of your everyday life: your cell phone.
Some of the best credit cards offer a few cell phone-related benefits, including an extended warranty on your new phone, bonus rewards when paying your cell phone bill and phone protection insurance.
It’s always important to be smart about what card you use to pay for cell phone-related purchases. That’s because you’ll generally have to have paid your latest monthly cell phone bill on that credit card and/or purchased the phone on that card in order to take advantage of your credit card’s cell phone benefits, which could amount to hundreds of dollars.
Here’s what you need to know about credit cards to use for cell phone bills and purchases, especially if you're looking for cards that can be part of your travel strategy:
Best credit cards for earning rewards via your cell phone bill
Some credit cards offer bonus points when used to pay your cell phone bill, and it generally doesn’t even matter what cell phone provider you use.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card ($0 annual fee)
Earns 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent each year in several categories, including cell phone service. That’s one of the highest payouts on cell phone business rewards you’ll find. Pair this card with a Chase Sapphire product for even greater access to the travel portal and travel transfer partners.
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card ($95 annual fee)
Earns 3 points per dollar spent on travel and other common business-related spending categories, including cable and phone services. Plus, this card will get you access to the Chase Travel Portal for booking your trips.
You’ll also get cell phone protection of up to $600 per claim, with a $100 deductible. A maximum of three claims can be submitted every 12 months.
U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard® ($0 annual fee)
Earn unlimited 3% cash back on cell phone expenses. This might be your road trip card, as you’ll also earn 3% on eligible gas station purchases. Just don’t take this card on an international trip, as you’ll incur foreign transaction fees. You'll get cell phone protection for damage or theft up to $1,000 per year ($800 max per claim, and two claims per year).
Best credit cards with built-in cell phone protection
Aside from earning rewards for paying your cell phone bill, certain credit cards also offer complimentary cell phone protection in case of cell phone theft or damage. There’s generally a limit specifying how much you’ll be covered for, and you’ll typically have to pay a relatively small deductible. Deductibles vary by card, but usually range from $25 to $100 per claim. After making that payment, you’ll typically be covered for the rest of the cost, often up to hundreds of dollars.
Just remember that if your phone breaks and the bill is still charged to a different card it does no good that you simply hold a card with cell phone protection — you have to actually pay your bill with it.
One more note: What’s covered under cell phone protection varies by provider. For example, American Express’ coverage on most of its high-end travel cards that offer the benefit protects against screen damage — something often excluded from damage coverage on most other cards. Contrast that with the policy on the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card, which specifically excludes “cosmetic damage...that does not impact the cell phone’s capabilities and functionalities.” Terms apply.
Among other common exclusions: phones that mysteriously go “missing.” For example, while the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card will cover cell phones that vanish “by wrongful act by a person,” they won’t cover cell phones that are lost or “mysteriously disappear.” In some cases, you’ll need an actual police report to get reimbursed for a missing phone.
Chase Freedom Flex℠ ($0 annual fee)
Cell phone protection of up to $800 per claim and a total of up to $1,000 per year, with a $50 deductible per claim. A maximum of two claims can be submitted every 12 months. You must pay your monthly cell phone bill with the card to take advantage of this benefit. Plus, you'll earn 5% on rotating categories you activate each quarter, as well as fixed bonus rewards in other categories including 3% on dining and 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
For your travel aspirations, pair this card with one of the Chase Sapphire cards for elevated redemption rates and access to travel transfer partners.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card ($250 annual fee)
Cell phone protection includes reimbursement for repair/replacement costs if your cell phone is stolen or damaged, including a cracked screen. Benefit covers up to two approved claims, for a maximum of $800 per claim or $1,600 per 12-month period, when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month’s wireless bill was paid by an eligible account. A $50 deductible applies to each approved claim.
The real draw of this card is the certificate you earn every year upon card renewal that’s good for a companion's round-trip fare in the domestic main cabin. You'll also receive checked-bag benefits and priority boarding on Delta flights.
» Learn more: Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card ($550 annual fee)
Cell phone protection comes with reimbursement for repair/replacement costs if your cell phone is stolen or damaged, including a cracked screen. Benefit covers up to two approved claims, for a maximum of $800 per claim or $1,600 per 12-month period, when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month’s wireless bill was paid by an eligible account. A $50 deductible applies to each approved claim.
Hold this card and you'll enjoy a first free checked bag on Delta flights, complimentary Delta SkyClub and Centurion Lounge access when you're traveling on a Delta flight, and an annual companion certificate that can be redeemed for a round-trip domestic first class ticket.
The Platinum Card® from American Express ($695 annual fee)
Cell phone protection includes reimbursement for repair/replacement costs if your cell phone is stolen or damaged, including a cracked screen. Benefits cover up to two approved claims, for a maximum of $800 per claim or $1,600 per 12-month period, when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month’s wireless bill was paid by an eligible account. A $50 deductible applies to each approved claim.
Plus earn 5x points on certain flights (up to $500,000 on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel per calendar year) and hotel stays, hundreds of dollars a year in credit for travel and shopping, and lounge access, among other high-end perks.
Best credit cards for extended warranty on your phone
Extended warranty coverage can certainly be similar to — but is still a bit different from — cell phone protection. Simply charge your phone (or any other item with a warranty), save your receipt and other warranty documentation, and in the event your phone breaks even after the original warranty expires, you may still be able to be reimbursed by your credit card company. Extended warranty coverage offered by your credit card typically adds up to a year of additional coverage to eligible purchases.
Generally, coverage mirrors the terms of the original manufacturer’s warranty — for example, if the original warranty covers only manufacturing defects, then the extended warranty will do the same.
Here are some excellent travel cards with extended warranty coverage:
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express
For the above American Express cards, you’ll receive up to one additional year of extended warranty coverage on eligible purchases made with the card on original manufacturer's warranties of five years or less, for up to $10,000 per covered purchase and $50,000 per eligible card per calendar year. Terms apply.
Comparing travel credit cards for paying your cell phone bill
If you want a credit card that earns bonus rewards on your cell phone bill and has cell phone protection, here’s what you can expect. All cards listed come with extended warranty protection.
Cell phone rewards
Cell phone protection
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
3x points on your first $150,000 spent on various business categories each account year, which includes phone services.
U.S. Bank Business Triple Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®
3% cash back on cell phone/service provider net purchases.
The Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card come with cell phone protection but no bonus points on cell phone spending. The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card will get you 5% back but has no cell phone protection benefits. Terms apply.
If you don’t qualify for a business credit card, here are your consumer options that have one or the other benefits. All come with extended warranty perks.
Cell phone rewards
Cell phone protection
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
2x points on all purchases.
U.S. Bank Cash+™ Visa Signature® Card
5% cash back on payments made directly to your wireless phone service provider when you select "Cell Phone Provider" as one of your two quarterly bonus categories.
Chase Freedom Flex℠
1x points on most purchases.
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
1x points on most purchases.
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card
1x points on most purchases.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
1x points on most purchases.
Something like the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card offers the trifecta. But that card can be tougher for just anyone to get approved for, as you’ll need business income to qualify. If you’re open to juggling a few credit cards, it can make sense to use one to actually purchase the physical phone to take advantage of extended warranty coverage. Once you have the phone in hand, use a different credit card to pay the bill to take advantage of ongoing rewards or cell phone protection.
If you want to earn travel rewards with your cell phone bills
Something like cell phone protection is likely not high on your list of must-have benefits in a credit card. But this benefit is potentially worth hundreds of dollars in value after the inevitable incident where your butter fingers cause the phone to drop and the glass to hit at the perfect angle for shattering.
Especially after a year of limited to no travel for most people, you may be considering canceling your high-annual-fee credit cards. But more banks are adding cell phone benefits to their cards, and even what’s covered by those cell phone benefits is improving. When it comes to your travel strategy and credit cards, don’t overlook the value of what they can do for your beloved smartphone.
The information related to the Citi Prestige® Card and Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.
To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, see this page.
To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card