Smart Buying

6 Things You Must Know About Tech Warranties

Extended coverage could pay off if your phone, laptop or tablet meets with an accident.

1. The dog ate my smart phone.

In a recent survey of 1,000 parents, half said their kids had damaged a laptop, tablet or smart phone. Pets do their share of mischief, too. Plus, plenty of responsible adults drop a phone or laptop and crack the screen. So if you’re buying a mobile device this holiday season, purchasing an extended warranty or service contract that covers what the industry calls accidental damage from handling (ADH) could be a smart move. It will cover repair or replacement of your device due to mishaps that manufacturers’ warranties typically exclude.

 

2. Do your homework.

Even if you intend to buy your tech gift at the mall, comparison-shop warranties on the Web, including the sites of retailers where you think you might buy the item and companies that sell warranties directly to consumers. Among the latter are SquareTrade.com, ElectronicWarranty.com and Safeware.com, all of which are rated A or A+ by the Better Business Bureau. Find out the terms and conditions of extended coverage: deductibles, limitations (such as the number of damage incidents covered) and exemptions.

3. Take your time.

An extended warranty, even with beefed-up protection, typically costs 10% to 20% of the product’s retail price, according to the Service Contract Industry Council. You’re likely to get a hard sell at checkout because extended warranties generate a lot of profit for retailers—as much as 50% of what you pay for them. You can generally buy an extended warranty within 30 or 90 days of the purchase date. So if you’re not sure you want the coverage, just say no at the time of purchase.

4. It pays to shop.

Best Buy will charge you $180 for two years of extended coverage with ADH on an iPad, more than one-third of the $499 purchase price. You’ll pay no deductibles, and there’s no limit on the number of incidents covered, but you’re entitled to only one free replacement. Apple’s own AppleCare+ for iPad costs $99; it covers two incidents of accidental damage, each with a $49 service fee (deductible). The best deal: SquareTrade’s two-year coverage with no deductible. It also costs $99 but covers unlimited incidents, up to the amount you paid for your device.

5. Convenience counts.

Most extended-service warranties require you to take your device to a local authorized service provider or ship it to a more distant service depot. SquareTrade allows you to choose your service provider. For example, you can get repairs at a local Apple “Genius Bar” or an independent repair shop. You can also send your device to SquareTrade’s own service depot (the repair and shipping will be free). If you take your device to an Apple store or repair shop, you’ll pay out of pocket and submit a receipt for reimbursement.

6. And to play it safe. . .

First of all, file your sales invoice and any paperwork regarding product claims. Register the extended warranty so there will be no hassle when you need repairs. And get a case for your phone or tablet. For example, for an iPad you can buy the OtterBox Defender Series case with screen protector and stand for $60 on Amazon.com.

Most Popular

Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
11 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds to Buy
Kiplinger's Investing Outlook

11 Best Monthly Dividend Stocks and Funds to Buy

Your bills come monthly. Why not your dividend checks? These are some of 2021's best monthly dividend stocks and funds for easier income planning.
June 16, 2021
You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge
Medicare

You Can Appeal a Medicare Premium Surcharge

If you meet one of the seven qualifying life events, you have a good chance of getting a higher premium for Medicare Part B and Part D reduced.
June 16, 2021

Recommended

The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Prime Day 2021
spending

The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Prime Day 2021

Prime members can plan their Prime Day purchases in advance to efficiently score the biggest and best deals throughout the two-day event.
June 14, 2021
18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores
spending

18 Worst Things to Buy at Dollar Stores

These discount retailers stock plenty of bargains, but some of the merchandise isn’t worth the buck.
May 14, 2021
36 Best Amazon Prime Benefits to Use in 2021
Smart Buying

36 Best Amazon Prime Benefits to Use in 2021

At $119 for Amazon Prime, get your money's worth by taking full advantage of your membership. Here's a list of the best Prime perks.
March 17, 2021
What to Do When One Spouse Spends Too Much in Retirement
spending

What to Do When One Spouse Spends Too Much in Retirement

If one partner takes a less conservative approach to money, it can wreak havoc on a marriage. But the problem can be addressed by agreeing on bigger f…
February 10, 2021