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Is AppleCare worth the $99 price tag?

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

iPhone extended warranty explained

If you're like most of us, you're about to drop a boatload of cash on your new iPhone. Whether you opt for the iPhone 5c, 5s or even an older model, you may be wondering if you really need to drop another $99 on AppleCare, and we have the answer.
AppleCare

iPhone extended warranty explained

If you're like most of us, you're about to drop a boatload of cash on your new iPhone. Whether you opt for the iPhone 5c, 5s or even an older model, you may be wondering if you really need to drop another $99 on AppleCare, and we have the answer.

What is AppleCare?

AppleCare is Apple's extended service agreement. The iPhone comes with a one-year limited warranty and up to 90 days of complimentary tech support by phone. But what if you do some serious damage to your phone that isn't covered by the limited warranty?

AppleCare is a two-year extended service agreement that covers your iPhone for up to two incidents of accidental damage (subject to a $79 service fee). It covers the phone itself, the battery, any accessories included in the box (like the earbuds) and even software support for iOS and iCloud, questions about any apps that come from Apple (but not from third-party suppliers) and connecting to wireless networks.

But do you need an extended warranty?

That depends. If you're a klutz, the answer is "Hells, yeah!" Apple's phones perform well in drop tests, and cases from manufacturers like OtterBox can make your phone almost indestructible. But what if you drop it in the toilet? What if you run over it? And if you were one of the few hundred people lucky enough to nab that Champagne gold model, do you really want to cover it with a case? It could also be stolen or just lost (which AppleCare doesn't cover).

Anthony Scarsella of Gazelle says the AppleCare program is a good option for people who have a history of damaging their phone, but notes that there are other warranties available from third-party sites you should explore, as well. That said, most of them are the same price or more as the offering from Apple, may have a higher deductible and have differences in coverage. So make sure you thoroughly compare all the options.

Extended warranties may be available from your carrier, third-party online services like SquareTrade or Protect Your Bubble, and even from your credit card company.

Extended warranty options*

2-year price

Deductible

Claims allowed

Accidental damage

Loss or theft

AppleCare

$99

Up to $79

2

Yes

No

Carrier*

$168-$287

Up to $199

2 in a 12-month period

Yes

Yes

Credit card*

$0

$0

1 per purchase

No

No

SquareTrade

$129

$50 (drops or spills)

Up to 4

Yes

No

Protect Your Bubble

$143

$120

2 in a 12-month period

Yes

Yes

* Based on rates for the iPhone 5s. Carrier rates based on offerings available from AT&T and Verizon. Credit card services vary based on special programs and terms available from each creditor; see your terms of service agreement for details. All terms described based on information available at the time of this writing.

What if I don't get it?

Whether you opt for AppleCare or another service, consider what happens if you don't have it. Even if you opted for a less expensive model, the price you paid was likely subsidized by the carrier. So it won't be just a couple hundred bucks to replace.

If something happens to your phone mid-contract (before you qualify for an upgrade), you could have to pay the non-subsidized price, from $649 to $849! With that in mind, we think AppleCare (or even one of the other options) is worth looking into. Just keep in mind that you often have to get them within 30 days of purchase.

Tell us

What would you do? Will you get an extended warranty for your iPhone and if so, which one?

More iPhone 5s and 5c news

Do you really need an iPhone 5s if you upgrade to iOS7?
7 Ways the iPhone 5s could be better
iPhone 5c vs. 5s: Which is right for you?

Photo credit: Apple
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