AppleCare+ vs. SquareTrade

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AppleCare+ vs. SquareTrade

Smart phones are expensive and fragile. We take them everywhere. They are subject to drops, spills, and other damage. If you “total” your iPhone 5, it will cost $229 to replace it. While it’s fortunate that you’re not paying the full cost of the device (an unlocked iPhone 5 costs $650 – $850), it’s still a lot of money. iPhones come with a 1 year limited warranty, which does not cover accidental damage. It may make sense to protect your iPhone with AppleCare+ or SquareTrade. Let’s take a look at the cost, coverage, claims, and reviews of the two extended warranty products.

UPDATES:

  • AppleCare+ is now more expensive per incident for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Each incident now costs $99 and coverage is offered for up to two incidents. The iPhone 6 and previous models cost $79 per incident. The plan remains at $99 to extend the warranty for 1 year, offering 2 years of total coverage. AppleCare+ has also extended the purchase window. You can purchase AppleCare+ even if you bought your iPhone 6S or 6S Plus 60 days ago.

    SquareTrade no longer has a cap on incidents, however, the deductible is now $75 for the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Plan prices remain the same. Plans can now be purchased if your iPhone is older than 30 days, if your device was already covered by your carrier.

    The iPhone 6S replacement cost (without an extended warranty) is $329. With the increase in replacement costs, it may be prudent to purchase an extended warranty.
  • AppleCare+ and SquareTrade both have plans for the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. A two year AppleCare+ plan costs $99 and covers two incidents. Each incident adds an additional $79 service fee. SquareTrade’s coverage for the new iPhones also costs $99 for a two year plan, but covers three incidents at $75 per claim. Overall, SquareTrade is still a better deal, unless you need support for software issues. AppleCare Plus offers support for iOS and Apple’s apps.
  • SquareTrade now offers a $25 discount on iPhone 5S and 5C extended warranties. This puts the price back down to $99 for a 2 year plan.
  • After the release of the iPhone 5S and 5C, SquareTrade increased the price of their protection plans for all iPhones. A 2 year plan now costs $124. While this is a modest increase, it may make AppleCare+ more appealing for some. SquareTrade still covers up to 4 incidents, which is twice as many as AppleCare+.

Cost

AppleCare+ and SquareTrade are comparably priced. Apple charges $99 for 2 years of coverage. The plan must be purchased within 30 days of the acquiring the device. SquareTrade costs $99 for 2 years, but also offers a monthly payment option and a 3 year plan. The monthly fee will end up costing more. At $7.99 a month for 24 months, one will pay almost twice as much for the same coverage. This is only a good option for people with cash flow issues. The 3 year plan is an excellent deal, priced at $129.

Unlike AppleCare+, SquareTrade offers coverage for any iPhone, regardless of purchase date. Simply download the SquareTrade app from the AppStore. The app will calculate the cost of the protection plan. Their app works for any iPhone, whether it is brand new or not. It’s an innovative and convenient way to purchase the product.

SquareTrade and AppleCare+ allow users to cancel the policy. Funds are refunded pro-rata. This is great if your iPhone is stolen or lost, or if you upgrade to a new device before your warranty expires. AppleCare+ adds a $25 or 10% cancellation fee, charging the lesser of the two. Both plans offer a full refund if cancelled within 30 days.

Coverage

AppleCare+ and SquareTrade provide different levels of coverage. SquareTrade covers the actual device better than AppleCare+. AppleCare+ covers the included accessories (headphones, charger), as well as offering phone-based support for the duration of the plan. Phone support assists with issues such as connecting to a WiFi network, using iCloud, and using Apple’s iPhone apps.

Both plans cover accidental damage. This includes drops, spills, cracked screens, damaged pixels, WiFi failure, dead batteries, and broken dock connectors. Neither plan covers theft or loss. You must rely on the “Find My iPhone” app or law enforcement.

Deductibles are similar for both protection plans. AppleCare+ charges $49 and SquareTrade costs $50 per incident. Both limit the number of incidents, with SquareTrade providing twice as much coverage. AppleCare+ limits coverage to 2 incidents. SquareTrade will cover up to 4 incidents. If you have the 3-year protection plan, you are still limited to 4 incidents. For $30 more, this seems reasonable.

Claims

One would assume that Apple has an advantage when it comes to claims. After all, there are over 400 Apple stores throughout the world. SquareTrade matches this by reimbursing customers for repairs serviced at the Apple Store. Furthermore, SquareTrade offers 24/7 claims and next day replacement of your iPhone, via overnight shipping. They understand that some people have their lives on their iPhone! Apple does offer 24/7 claims and an “express” service, but it takes 2-3 days for a replacement to be shipped. For many people, this is unacceptable. SquareTrade is clearly superior at handling claims, especially if you don’t live near an Apple store. (continue…)

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