Should you get AppleCare+ or insurance for your iPhone?

If you buy the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR, or any other iPhone model, you may want to protect that investment. Everyone from Apple to carriers, big-box retailers, and credit card companies offer some type of protection plan or extended warranty on purchases. AppleCare+ is comprehensive — and included in the iPhone Upgrade Program — but you might have loyalty programs or even credit card offers that provide at least some coverage for less. Here are some options!

AppleCare vs. AppleCare+ vs. AppleCare+with Theft and Loss

AppleCare

Every iPhone you purchase, whether it's sold by Apple or another retailer, comes with a 1-year limited warranty called AppleCare. This coverage costs you nothing and is automatically activated the day you purchase your iPhone. Here's what it offers:

  • 1-year limited warranty against defects
  • 90 days complimentary phone support

The basic version of AppleCare, however, does not protect against any kind of accidental damage. That's where AppleCare+ comes into play.

AppleCare+

AppleCare+ costs an additional $199 a year (or $9.99 a month for 24 months) for the iPhone XS Max, iPhone X, and iPhone X, and must be purchased either at the same time or within 60 days of purchasing your iPhone. It will extend the standard one year warranty to two years and give you phone support for those full two years — as opposed to the 90 days after purchase that comes standard. That means if you ever run into an issue with your iPhone, you can dial 1-800-MY-APPLE and ask for AppleCare, or you can call 1-800-APL-CARE directly.

What's more, if you break your iPhone or drop it in water, you've got some additional options. AppleCare+ gives you two incidents where, for a $29 deductible per screen or $99 deductible for other damage, you can exchange your broken iPhone for a replacement on the spot. The only thing AppleCare+ does not protect you against is theft or loss unless you decide to upgrade to AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss.

AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss

AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss became available with the launch of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, and it gives you the option of paying a little more in order to have a replacement option if your iPhone ever disappears. AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss cost $299 a year (or $14.99 a month for 24 months) for the new iPhones, and gives you the exact same protection and service fees that AppleCare+ offers for damage, but also offers for a $269 deductible cost to replace a lost or stolen iPhone up to two times. After that, you'll be paying full price for a replacement.

An important note from Apple's fine print:

"Theft and loss coverage requires you to have Find My iPhone enabled on your device at the time it is lost or stolen. During the theft or loss claims process, you will be asked to erase your missing device, disable it, and transfer ownership before you can be issued a new device."

Of course, to get the most value out of AppleCare+ or AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss, it helps if you live close to an Apple Retail Store. If not, you'll need to mail your iPhone out to get it serviced. Unless you have a backup phone laying around, going without for a prolonged period could be problematic for many.

Best Buy will also let you add AppleCare+, including on a monthly $7.99 installment plan.

See at Apple

SquareTrade insurance

SquareTrade offers warranties similar to AppleCare, but are not affiliated with or licensed by Apple. SquareTrade covers you for drops, spills, and malfunctions, and while the company doesn't have retail outlets for in-store fixes, it does offer free two-way shipping.

2-year and 3-year plans for $129 and $159 respectively. All of them automatically renew for $69 a year thereafter.

There's a $25-$99 deductible on claims, depending on what it's for.

On top of accident coverage, SquareTrade will also reimburse you for Genius Bar appointments, offers next day replacements, and even covers same day repairs through local service shops in your area. This alone can make it appealing to people that don't live near an Apple Store but may travel near them on occaision.

See at SquareTrade

Credit Card benefits

Some credit cards offer warranty extensions as well as programs that protect against breakage and even theft. Requirements can vary based on providers, but typically require that you have an account in good standing and paid for your iPhone completely on the card in question.

Premium cards, like gold or platinum, often have additional benefits that go with their higher membership fees. Check the material that came with your credit card, or visit your providers web site for more information.

Why carrier and big box retailer insurance plans are almost never a good idea

Carrier insurance offerings vary greatly based on what carrier you have, what kind of contract you have, and many other factors. We're hesitant to recommend them over AppleCare+ and other options simply because there are typically exorbitant monthly fees plus ever-changing deductibles involved, often on the high side.

Some carrier insurance plans do offer protection from theft and loss. Those are both rare occurrences, statistically speaking, and may already be covered under your home owners insurance or another personal or work policy.

Who should buy AppleCare+?

If you plan on keeping your iPhone for more than 1 year, AppleCare+ offers you peace of mind for just $99 up front and $29 per screen or $99 for other damage.

See at Apple

Who should buy AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss

If you're prone to losing your iPhone and don't want to have to dish out full price when you do AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss offers you some peace of mind. Plus, you still get all the benefits of AppleCare+ for damage as well.

See at Apple

Who should purchase insurance from SquareTrade?

If you're particularly accident prone or don't live within close range to an Apple Store, Square Trade may be your best option.

See at SquareTrade

Who should buy carrier insurance?

If you're extremely unlucky and accident prone, don't live close to an Apple Store, can't use Square Trade, and don't have any kind of protection through credit cards, then maybe it's worth considering carrier insurance. Still, probably not.

Still not sure?

If you still aren't sure what insurance plan, if any, is right for you, jump into our iPhone forums and ask any additional questions you might have.

Made your choice? Let us know what you went with!

Updated October 2018: Added new information about AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss.

iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, iPhone XR

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