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OTT Explains: Is It Worth Buying Extended Warranties for Tech?

You know the question: “Would you like to invest in the extended warranty for this product?” Sales people push extended warranty on consumers, and it might sound like a great idea. After all, if you’re spending over $1,000 on a new laptop, you’ll want some kind of protection in case it breaks. There is an almost universal pause after the question is asked before the consumer answers with a half-smile, “No thanks. I don’t need that.” 

That pause is when the customer debates; are extended warranties worth it? This holds especially true for parents buying tech for younger children that might break the devices, accidentally or not. 

Are Extended Warranties Worth It For Tech?

The short answer is no, an extended warranty is not worth it. The vast majority of extended warranties go unused and serve to generate revenue for the retailer. Under the vast majority of circumstances, products do not break on their own. If you do happen to break a laptop or a tablet, the cost of repair out of pocket is often less than what you would pay for the extended warranty. 

Let’s put it another way. There is a newsletter called Warranty Week dedicated to the warranty industry. According to a newsletter sent out in September of 2017, warranties are a $23 billion industry. Do people have that many accidents in the span of the first few years of their product’s life? Not likely. 

You are better off saying no to an extended warranty and instead placing that money into a savings account that can be used in the event of an emergency. The only time an extended warranty is worth considering is if you are in a situation where you know the device has a high risk of damage, such as a laptop or tablet for fieldwork where heat, condensation, and other risk factors are outside the norm.

However, make sure your warranty covers the types of damage a work-focused machine might encounter. If your extended warranty doesn’t offer protection for the type of damage your machine might see, skip it and invest in a sturdy case.

Are Other Types Of Warranties Worth It?

While an extended warranty might not be worth your money, there are other types of protections that absolutely are. Your mobile carrier’s protections, for instance. According to a study from SquareTrade, roughly 5,761 smartphone screens break every hour in America. As a country, we are not gentle with our mobile devices. Of course, the study also revealed that the majority of these breaks come from a widespread case of butterfingers—74% of breaks are the result of dropping a device.

Although many people are content to use a phone with a cracked screen as long as the damage isn’t too great, there’s no reason to. Almost every provider and carrier provides a protection plan that allows you to replace a cracked or broken screen for next to nothing. As the cost of screen replacements rise (the iPhone Xs Max averages around $330 to repair), carrier protections are a solid investment. 

Why phones but not laptops? Due to the nature of phones, they are at far greater risk of damage due to the frequency of use. People text on the go, pulling out their phones to check or reply to a message without looking at the path in front of them. When is the last time you actively used a laptop while walking around? 

There is a caveat to this, however. Before you agree to smartphone insurance, take a close look at the terms and conditions. If you’re spending $10 per month on the insurance and still have an out of pocket deductible of upwards of $100 or more, it’s not worth it. If you needed to replace a screen, you could do so with a replacement ordered from Alibaba and a few hours with YouTube.

Are Extended Warranties Worth It For Other Products?

Extended warranties are offered for nearly anything you purchase. If you’re investing in a smart appliance, skip the warranty. The built-in manufacturers warranty will cover any defects in the product that might result in a return. No extended warranty is needed. 

You will likely be offered an extended warranty when purchasing video games. GameStop in particular is notorious for this—$3.99 or so for a year of protection. Companies constantly offer protection plans for game consoles, too. They’re unnecessary. Any manufacturer-born problem will be repaired for little to no cost as game companies try to stay in the gamers’ good graces.

Finally, you do not need an extended warranty for your television. Because TVs are often the centerpoint of a home, companies convince buyers to ensure it is protected all costs. Think, when was the last time a television broke in a way that an extended warranty would cover it? Getting too into a VR game and smashing the screen most likely falls outside the protection of extended warranties. 

Other Factors To Consider

Extended warranties are rarely worth the money. There might be a few specific instances where they are worthwhile, but those are few and far between. On the other hand, you might already have an extended warranty and not even realize it. How? Two words – credit cards.

Many credit card companies provide automatic extended warranties on purchases as a perk to their customers. American Express tends to offer the most thorough coverage, with MasterCard and Visa following behind. Your manufacturer’s warranty can sometimes be extended, too. Check the fine print. In many cases, you can register with the manufacturer and increase the length of coverage at no extra cost.

Do yourself a favor. Skip the extended warranty and invest those funds into a savings account or a reliable protective cover.

Have you purchased an extended warranty in the past? Did you find the extended warranty was it? Let us know in the comments below.



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