AppleCare+: Everything you need to know about Apple's extended warranty program

Your Apple gear wasn’t cheap. And if you drop your iPhone, your iPad stops turning on one day, or your Mac’s hard drive just ups and dies on you, getting it repaired probably won’t be cheap either.

Apple includes a one-year limited warranty with all hardware so if there’s a manufacturing defect, you’ll be covered. To also protect against accidental damage, plus extend the original warranty for longer and enjoy free tech support, you can opt to purchase AppleCare+. Here’s what it is, what it covers, and what you can expect to pay. Is AppleCare+ worth it? Only you can decide for your own situation, but this should be everything you need to know to make a smart choice.

General AppleCare+ information

If you’ve never even heard of AppleCare, start here! Otherwise, feel free to skip to the sections that cover your particular devices.

What is AppleCare+? How is it different from the warranty Apple products come with?

AppleCare is Apple’s term for its warranty programs. Every Apple device comes with a certain stretch of AppleCare warranty service and phone/chat support for free, typically one year for the warranty and 90 days of phone support. You can pay to extend that protection for longer, which is called AppleCare+.

Do I have to buy AppleCare+ at the same time as the product?

No. If you already know you want it, buying AppleCare+ with the product is a good idea, just so you don’t forget. When you’re shopping at the Apple store and, you’ll be offered AppleCare+ at checkout, and authorized Apple resellers can offer AppleCare+ too.

But you have some time. Generally you get 60 days from the purchase date to buy AppleCare+ (only 30 days if you’re in Japan), and Apple has a page where you can check your exact device’s eligibility.

apple genius Apple

Still, to buy AppleCare+ after the fact you generally have to run a diagnostic test on the device in question, so Apple knows it’s in good working order. And no matter when you buy your AppleCare+ plan, the coverage starts from the day you bought your device. So you don’t get an “extra” two months of coverage if you wait two months to buy the plan.

How do I buy AppleCare+ for products I didn’t buy directly from Apple?

The easiest way is online. Apple’s site has a page to Check Your Service and Support Coverage. Enter your device’s serial number here, and it’ll tell you if you can still buy AppleCare+ and walk you through the process of purchasing and registering your plan.

Keep in mind that buying an AppleCare+ plan after the fact often means you have to complete a diagnostic test on the device. After all, Apple has to make sure you’re not trying to buy coverage on a device that’s already broken. So do it right away, just in case.

Can you buy AppleCare+ for refurbished products?

You can! Apple offers a range of refurbished items on its website, and they’re all backed by the same one-year warranty as new products. Plus, you can buy AppleCare+ for a refurbished item just as you can with a new one.

How do I check how much time is left on my AppleCare plan?

Head to Apple’s Check Your Service and Support Coverage page, and enter your device’s serial number. You’ll find out how much time you have left on your AppleCare plan, and if you can still buy AppleCare+ for this device.

If there’s no Apple store near me, is AppleCare+ a bad idea?

No, you can still use AppleCare+ if you can’t make it to the Apple store. You have several options, actually.

  • Apple retail stores. If you can get to an Apple store, you can even make a reservation for AppleCare+ service.
  • Drop off at the UPS Store. Apple can provide you with a Repair ID number for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod needing service, and you can take it to any UPS Store in the U.S., which will ship the device to Apple at no cost to you. When Apple finishes the repair, you get the device back in the mail, again with no shipping fee.
  • Direct mail. Alternatively, Apple will send you a box and shipping labels for you to ship any Apple product back to them for repair. Apple pays the shipping both ways.
  • Onsite service. If the problem is with a desktop Mac, Apple can sometimes even send an authorized repair technician to you.
  • DIY. If the problem is relatively small, Apple can sometimes just send you a part, like a new iPhone charger or Apple TV remote.

How am I supposed to survive without my device while Apple is repairing it?

apple genius Apple

Apple offers an Express Replacement Service for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. When you use Express Replacement, Apple goes ahead and sends you a new device right away, and you don’t have to mail in your broken device until you receive it. Conditions apply, but ask Apple about it when you contact them and they can let you know if you qualify.

What if I sell the product before AppleCare+ runs out?

AppleCare is transferable! If you’re selling an Apple product before the included AppleCare plan expires, the buyer gets the remaining protection. If you buy an extended AppleCare+ plan and then sell the product, the remaining time left in the AppleCare+ goes along with it. So AppleCare+ can be a selling point when you’re unloading your used devices on the secondary market!

To transfer an AppleCare plan, you have to provide the buyer with your proof of purchase (receipt), the plan confirmation and contract, and also notify Apple by email, fax, or mail. Apple needs to know the plan’s agreement number, the device’s serial number, and the new owner’s contact info. Full details are in the terms and conditions.

Does AppleCare cover loss or theft?

No. AppleCare+ never covers loss or theft of your device. Some cell carriers and third-party insurance companies offer plans that do cover loss or theft, but AppleCare+ only covers defects and accidental damage.

Is AppleCare+ only for U.S. customers?

No! Well, AppleCare+ plans for iPhone and iPad purchased in the United States and Canada are only valid in the United States and Canada, but other Apple devices (Apple Watch, Mac, iPod, Apple TV, and Apple displays) provide global coverage. Service options do vary between countries, but any AppleCare service is always performed by authorized techs with genuine Apple parts.

Obviously, you should always read the full agreement before you purchase any warranty or insurance.

Can I cancel an AppleCare+ plan?

Yes you can. If it’s within 30 days of purchasing the plan, you’ll get a full refund minus any service you received. Outside of 30 days, you’ll get a prorated refund, minus any service, minus a fee of $25 or 10% of the prorated refund, whichever is less. Call Apple at 1–800-MY-APPLE to ask how.

AppleCare+ for iPhone

iphone mosaic Apple

The iPhone is covered in glass, easy to drop, and goes everywhere with you. No wonder iPhones break so frequently! Here’s the skinny on buying some extra protection.

How much does AppleCare+ cost for iPhone?

It varies by the size of the device. The iPhone SE is the smallest iPhone and the cheapest for AppleCare+, at $99. AppleCare+ for the iPhone 6s, iPhone 7, and new iPhone 8 is $129. And for the Plus-sized iPhones, AppleCare is $149.

For the iPhone X, prepare to pay $199 for AppleCare+, since it’s got a new OLED screen and all the extra TrueDepth cameras and sensors.

All AppleCare+ plans for iPhone include two years of coverage and tech support.

I bought my iPhone with the iPhone Upgrade Program. Doesn’t that have AppleCare+ included for free?

It’s included, but it’s not free. The cost of the two-year AppleCare+ plan is divided among the 24 loan payments you agree to pay. (But at least you aren’t charged interest.)

If you upgrade your phone after a year, your two-year loan starts over again, but you still get the second year of AppleCare+ on the new phone. Read the iPhone Upgrade Program terms for more detail. The iPhone Upgrade Program is a loan, so again, be sure to read all the fine print before you sign up.

What does AppleCare+ for iPhone cover?

For the iPhone, AppleCare+ extends your warranty coverage from one year to two, and extends phone and chat support from 90 days to the full two years as well.

You also get up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage for a relatively low service fee. If you’ve only damaged the screen, a screen replacement is only $29. But if the iPhone has other damage, the fee is $99. iPhones are eligible for the Express Replacement Service, letting you request a replacement device in the mail before you send your original damaged device in for repair.

So let’s say you drop your iPhone on the corner, which breaks the screen but also dents the enclosure enough that Apple can’t fix just the screen—that’s a $99 repair. If the screen shatters but the rest of the phone is relatively unscathed, $29.

The warranty against defects covers the phone as well as the battery and the included headphones and accessories. Accidental damage can include almost anything, such as water damage, drops, running the thing over, your kid pours paint into the Lightning port—as long as you only have two incidents (or less) in the two year coverage period.

What doesn’t AppleCare+ for iPhone cover?

Loss and theft. If your main concern is loss or theft, be sure to use a strong passcode, keep it backed up, and enable Find My iPhone (which also engages Activation Lock). That way, if your device does “wander off,” you’re more likely to get it back or at least not lose important data.

You might also want to check your homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies to see if they cover stolen electronics. Some cell phone service providers’ own insurance plans cover loss and theft, but it’s relatively rare.

What about the iPod touch?

Yes, Apple offers AppleCare+ for the iPod touch. It’s $59 to extend the warranty from one year to two, with two years of tech support too. Up to two incidents of accidental damage are covered for a $29 service fee, plus tax.

Should I get it?

If you’re going to buy AppleCare+ on anything, it’s probably going to be your iPhone. But it’s not always a slam dunk.

For example, I broke my iPhone 7 screen recently, and Apple was able to do a same-day screen replacement at the Apple store. I don’t have AppleCare+, so Apple charged me the “full” price for the screen repair, which was $129. But if I’d paid $129 for AppleCare+ ahead of time, the repair would cost me $29. That means I actually paid less for the screen repair out of warranty. But if I broke the same iPhone again within the two years, the second $29 screen repair would put me way ahead.

So really it depends on how careful you are with your iPhone. Do you use a case? Avoid action sports? Rarely drop your phone? Or are you a total klutz who’s broken every phone you’ve ever owned? Be honest with yourself and proceed accordingly.

AppleCare+ for iPad

ipad pro family black Apple

Whether you agree that an iPad can replace a laptop, its AppleCare+ plan certainly is cheaper than AppleCare+ for a Mac—and iPads are eligible for Apple’s speedy Express Replacement Service too.

How much does AppleCare+ cost for iPad?

No matter which model you buy, AppleCare+ for iPads is $99, for two years of repair coverage and phone support.

What does AppleCare+ for iPad cover?

AppleCare+ extends an iPad’s hardware warranty from one year to two. Tech support is extended from 90 days to two years, so you can call or chat with an Apple rep to get help with iOS, iCloud, and Apple apps.

You also get two incidents of accidental damage coverage, with a service fee of $29 for a broken screen, or $99 for any other damage, plus tax. AppleCare+ covers the iPad as well as its battery and included accessories like the power brick.

What doesn’t AppleCare+ for iPad cover?

Loss and theft are never covered by AppleCare. Check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance to see if those policies offer you any protection.

Should I get it?

This answer might hinge on how you use your iPad. My $329 iPad, for example, almost never leaves my house—but I also share it with a 5-year-old who doesn’t always treat it like an expensive and fragile device. Still, our iPad is mostly for entertainment, so I’m living (dangerously?) without AppleCare+.

On the other hand, if I was a road warrior with a $1,000 iPad Pro that I relied on every day to make my living, I’d be more likely to shell out the $99 for AppleCare+, which, again, is cheaper than AppleCare+ for most iPhones or any Macs.

AppleCare+ for Macs and Apple displays

imac target display mode Apple

Apple doesn’t sell its own Apple-branded displays anymore, and AppleCare+ for Macs might seem like a bargain if you’ve ever paid hundreds to get a laptop serviced—or overkill if you’re an iMac user who’s never run into a problem.

How much does AppleCare+ cost for Macs?

For Macs, AppleCare+ offers three years of service protection and phone support, and the price varies by model. - Mac mini: $99 - iMac: $169 - Mac Pro: $249 - MacBook: $249 - MacBook Air: $249 - 13-inch MacBook Pro: $269 - 15-inch MacBook Pro: $379

Apple also had a separate AppleCare+ plan for its desktop displays, like the Cinema Display and the Thunderbolt Display, but those displays are no longer sold.

What does AppleCare+ for Macs cover?

The plan extends the original warranty from one year to three years, which covers you for defects that aren’t your fault. Phone and chat support is extended from 90 days to three years as well.

AppleCare+ for Macs also includes two incidents of accidental damage for a lower service fee than you would pay for an out-of-warranty repair. If you damage just the screen or the Mac’s enclosure, it’s $99, and all other damage is $299, plus tax.

For Macs, your computer is covered, plus the battery, power adapter and other included accessories, RAM, AirPort, and even Apple’s USB SuperDrive.

What doesn’t AppleCare+ for Macs cover?

It doesn’t cover loss or theft. Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance might, depending on your policy.

Should I get it?

For Macs, AppleCare+ makes more sense if you’re buying a laptop and you’re worried about the screen, or you just tend to be rough on your computers. Desktop Macs probably aren’t as important to cover, since the likelihood of, say, dropping one is a lot less. Still, Macs have a long life, so you may decide three years of (transferable) protection is worth the extra cost.

AppleCare+ for Apple Watch

watchos4 faces Apple

Apple offers two tiers of AppleCare+ for the Apple Watch. Since they cost so much, the special edition watches (Edition, Hermès, and ceramic) already come with two years of warranty support, AppleCare+ extends that to a third year.

How much does AppleCare+ cost for Apple Watch?

Either $49 or $99, depending on the model.

  • The Series 3 watches in aluminum start at $329 for GPS, and $399 for GPS + cellular. AppleCare+ is $49, which extends the included one-year warranty to two.
  • The Series 3 watches in stainless steel start at $599 for GPS + cellular. AppleCare+ is $49, extending the one-year warranty to two.
  • The aluminum Apple Watch Nike+ editions in Series 3 also start at $329 for GPS and $399 for GPS + Cellular. For $49, AppleCare+ extends the one-year warranty to two.
  • The Apple Watch Edition Series 3 in white or gray ceramic start at $1299. AppleCare+ is $99, extending the included two-year warranty to three. (Solid gold Apple Watches too, but those haven’t been sold in a while.)
  • The stainless steel Apple Watch Series 3 Hermès edition watches range from $1149 to $1399 because of their elaborate leather bands. AppleCare+ is $99, which extends the two-year warranty to three.
  • Apple still sells the Series 1 watch in aluminum for $249/$279. AppleCare+ is $49, extending the warranty from one year to two.

What does AppleCare+ for Apple Watch cover?

The cheaper Apple Watches come with 90 days of tech support and a one-year limited warranty. AppleCare+ extends both to two years for $49.

The more expensive watches (Edition, Hermès, ceramic, gold) already include two years of limited warranty and tech support. A $99 AppleCare+ plan extends both for a third year.

All Apple Watches are eligible for Express Replacement Service, so you aren’t without an Apple Watch while you wait for your repair. The plan covers the watch, its battery, the magnetic charging cable, and the power adapter. Apple Watch Editions came with a fancy magnetic charging dock that’s also covered.

AppleCare+ for all Apple Watches covers up to two incidents of accidental damage. The service fees are $69 for regular and Nike+ models, and $79 for Edition and Hermès models, plus tax.

What doesn’t AppleCare+ for Apple Watch cover?

Loss and theft! Are you noticing the pattern?

Should I get it?

It’s pretty difficult to get an Apple Watch repaired anywhere but the Apple store, as we found out. The Apple Watch is designed to be tough, so most users hopefully shouldn’t have problems. But if you’re paranoid or accident prone, or you just love the idea of Express Replacement Service so you never miss a step, AppleCare+ is there.

AppleCare Protection Plan for Apple TV

Apple TV 4th gen Apple

Your Apple TV is probably the last thing you’d buy an extended warranty for, but Apple is happy to sell you one! Since it doesn’t cover accidental damage, they don’t even call it AppleCare+. It’s just the AppleCare Protection Plan for Apple TV.

How much is the AppleCare Protection Plan for Apple TV?

It’s only $29, both for the regular Apple TV and the brand-new 4K edition. That gets you two years of warranty coverage and tech support.

What does the AppleCare Protection Plan for Apple TV cover?

The Apple TV itself, the Siri Remote, and even the Apple AirPort router you use with it, if you bought it within two years of the Apple TV. Tech support by phone or chat includes help with setup, connecting to Wi-Fi, iCloud, renting or buying from iTunes, AirPlay, and even connecting to third-party streaming services.

What doesn’t it cover?

Loss and theft, including losing the remote. (But if the remote stops working, that’s covered.) There’s also no coverage for accidental damage (spills, drops, earthquakes, fires) or cosmetic damage. But it’s an Apple TV. It just sits there.

Should I get it?

Nah. I mean, you could. But you probably don’t need to, unless you really want the tech support.

IDG Insider


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