Shuman Roy is an entrepreneur, business owner, and musician. He started RoysNoys, LLC in 2013 as a music production and education service company. He also offers small business consulting and advisory services to help businesses get from start-up mode to turn-key operations. Shuman earned his M.B.A from the Stern School of Business in 2001 and has an undergraduate degree from Manhattan College in ...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity-backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Joel...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 7, 2021

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As we wrote about in a previous post, it’s difficult to get affordable insurance coverage for your expensive iPhone (or any smartphone) because the deductible is often too high to justify filing a claim.

After all, why pay $500 in deductibles to replace a $600 phone? Why not just get a new one?

Additionally, the insurance claim will show up on your CLUE report, which can increase your homeowner’s insurance rate for years to come. So effectively, you’ll pay even more than the cost of the phone.

In other words, it most cases your best move is to bite the bullet and pay for a new phone, or sign up for some sort of smartphone insurance plan that is expensive and not ideal.

How can you get free cell phone protection from Wells Fargo?

Instead of that, why not simply pay your monthly cell phone bill with a Wells Fargo credit card and get automatic cellular telephone protection for free?

A little known perk tied to Wells Fargo credit cards is this complimentary coverage. And Wells Fargo actually has some decent credit cards nowadays now that they’ve been expanding their offerings.

For most people with an existing Wells Fargo bank account, you likely have a Wells Fargo credit card attached (that they basically forced you to open at the outset) that you never use.

Here’s a reason to finally use it!

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How does cell phone coverage work?

As long as you pay your monthly smartphone bill with an eligible Wells Fargo consumer credit card, you’ll get up to $600 in cell phone protection, subject to a very reasonable $25 deductible.

Wells Fargo recommends that you set up automatic recurring payments via your WF credit card, but it’s not a requirement to gain the coverage.

Just make sure you’re paying the bill with a Wells credit card because you’ll need to provide that if and when you file a claim.

For the record, this coverage is only good for accidental damages and theft to the phone – coverage does not apply if the phone is lost or “mysteriously disappears.” So no funny business folks.

To file a claim, you need to give notice within sixty days of damage or theft by calling the benefit administrator at 866-804-4770.

Within 90 days, you must complete and return a signed claim form with all requested documentation.

They say under normal circumstances you’ll get reimbursement (in the form of a replacement device or repair of your existing one) within 10 business days.

Like other insurance policies, there are a number of exclusions you should know about, which you can read about here. For example, phones stolen from construction sites aren’t covered, nor are mobile phones stolen from checked baggage if traveling.

Furthermore, you will not be covered for cosmetic damage, so screen repairs and the like are iffy. It may depend on how well you can operate the phone despite the damage.

Additionally, you can only file a maximum of two claims per 12-month period, which seems like plenty if you ask me. That’s up to $600 x2, or up to $1,200 per year.

The good news is that this coverage can extend to four eligible devices, including the primary and up to three additional lines.

This coverage becomes effective beginning on the first day of the calendar month following the payment of your cell phone bill using an eligible Wells Fargo credit card.

What is secondary coverage?

Just note that Wells Fargo’s Cellular Telephone Protection is “supplemental to and excess of valid and collectible insurance or indemnity,” meaning your homeowners, renters, auto, or employer’s insurance policies must be exhausted first.

So basically this coverage is good for a renter who doesn’t have a renters insurance policy, which is probably a ton of young adults with expensive smartphones who never bothered even considering renters insurance.

What other cell phone insurance plans are available?

Your first line of defense should always be getting an extended warranty on your phone at the time of purchase, but there are a variety of cell phone protection plans that will be more comprehensive than the coverage offered by Wells Fargo.

SquareTrade is one company that offers a good protection plan for phones, and your best option for iPhones remains AppleCare+. Samsung Premium Care is recommended for Androids.

Device protection from SquareTrade will cover you for liquid damage, screen damage, and mechanical or electrical malfunction. However, it does not offer protection against theft.

Geek Squad Basic Protection is another reasonable option. Geek Squad Protection costs $11 per month with coverage for theft and offers the same covered repairs as SquareTrade.

Also, there are other credit card companies that offer protection for electronic devices. With the , American Express Platinum® card your phone is covered for an $800 claim in case of damage or theft. Plus you get reward points when you use the card at restaurants, and a lot of other unique benefits.

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What’s the bottom line?

One final thing I should note is that the Wells Fargo coverage doesn’t apply if the phone is rented, leased or borrowed or part of a pre-paid plan. I don’t know what Wells Fargo means by pre-paid plan because many, many phones are subsidized upon purchase, though some are actually paid monthly on an ongoing basis.

Perhaps the latter category is excluded, and not the former.

Of course, you should probably run your scenario by Wells Fargo first to see if you’re covered before paying your smartphone bill with a Wells Fargo credit card (or opening a new card). But hey, the coverage is free, and with a mere $25 deductible, you don’t have much to lose.

In any case, you have a lot of coverage options when it comes to a phone insurance plan, so make sure to shop around and look into exclusions and coverage limits with different cell phone insurance providers before choosing a policy.