Comparison: iPhone warranties from Apple, carriers, third-parties, and free credit card coverage

As pre-orders for the iPhone X are right around the corner and you also might be considering buying more Apple devices for yourself or others in the coming months, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at how Apple’s standard warranty and its extended warranty stack up. We’ll also look at third-party options and free credit card benefits you may already have.

Along with the iPhone 8 and iPhone X announcements, Apple raised its prices for AppleCare+ as well as its repairs of most iPhones going back to the 6s and 6s Plus. Follow along to figure out what’s the best warranty strategy as you pick up Apple’s latest hardware.

Apple’s standard warranty is a one-year limited guarantee, which also includes 90-day telephone support (although you can often get free phone support past 90 days). You can always get free support in Apple Stores, but repairs may have a cost depending on the situation and your warranty status.

The other option from Apple is to extend your coverage on devices like iPhones to two years with AppleCare+, which also adds accidental coverage (with a deductible). However, there are a few other things to keep in mind, like warranties from carriers, third-parties like SquareTrade, and the free built-in warranty extension that your credit card likely provides.

Let’s check out an overall comparison to start…

Yeah, things are a bit complicated, but it’s not too bad now that we can reference the chart above.

The standard one year warranty may sound minimal at first, but odds are good that your credit card includes the free benefit of extending manufacturer warranties by 1-2 years (1 year is most common, but some do 2 for electronics). In my experience my bank asked me to email the original receipt and the repair receipt and then credited the amount to my account. This allows you the flexibility to get service done wherever you’d like, and the best part is you don’t have to pay for extended warranties!

On the downside credit card companies usually don’t cover accidental damage or lost/stolen devices, so you’ll be on your own for that. Check in with your bank for details.

Apple’s two-year coverage including accidents has seen a price jump this year. AppleCare+ for iPhone 8 is $129, iPhone 8 Plus is $149, and iPhone X is $199. While the deductible for screen repairs is a seemingly fair $29, keep in mind an outright screen repair for either an 8 or 8 Plus is $9 less than the cost of AppleCare+ and the $29 deductible.

While we haven’t yet seen pricing for iPhone X repairs like screen replacements, if the 8 and 8 Plus are any indication, it may cost $219 to replace that shiny new OLED display.

So if you think you’re likely to have two instances of screen damage or other damage, AppleCare+ may be a good fit for you. You also get the benefit of knowing that you’ll always get official Apple components for repairs and replacements and know that you can get help from Apple in a variety of ways. Also, if you happen to go for the iPhone Upgrade Program, the cost of AppleCare+ is bundled in to your monthly payment.

For cons, there’s no lost/stolen coverage and you’re paying a good chunk of cash up front for coverage that you might not use. Also, if you want to keep an iPhone for longer than two years, or would like to hand down your device to someone else, there’s no extending the coverage.

Carriers are one of the most common ways to get lost and stolen coverage in addition to accidental. However, there are some notable downsides. First, you’re paying more than any other option for carrier insurance, most plans cost between $7-$11/month coming in between $170-$264 for two years.

Most carriers use Asurion or Assurant to underwrite their offerings. This is a downside as you almost always have to mail in devices, and there’s no way to know for sure if you’ll be getting authentic Apple components with repairs or replacements.

You do get the option to continue covering devices past two years, but deductibles are another negative, with most carrier insurance plans having $149-$225 deductibles. Unless you’re really concerned about the lost/stolen issue, carrier insurance is usually not worth it.

This is the most popular third-party option for extended warranty coverage and the AllState owned SquareTrade does offer some nice advantages. First, pricing is competitive for iPhones with 2 year coverage at $129 and a 3 year plan at $159.

You also get the advantage of multiple ways to get a device repaired or replaced. SquareTrade offers the option for someone to fix your device at your home or work, and will also refund the repair or replacement cost if you go to Apple to get your iPhone fixed (in addition to mail in repair).

There’s no lost/stolen coverage with SquareTrade, but you can extend your coverage even further on a month to month basis after the initial period. SquareTrade also offers a $10 discount for every device covered after the first one.

Warranty coverage preferences often comes down to past experiences and how you use your device. Hopefully, with the details above you’ll feel confident about making the right decision for your needs and feel good about the money you’re saving or spending!

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