A financial analyst breaks down the costs and benefits.

By Caroline Biggs
October 14, 2020
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To buy a warranty or not to buy a warranty? That's the tricky question many shoppers face when purchasing a pricey item. "People might be reluctant to purchase a warranty for a product or item because it would mean more money coming out of their wallet," says Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at WalletHub. "They could also think that a warranty isn't worth the price tag, or trust that the product they're buying is reliable and won't break."

And while it may mean paying more money up front, in many cases, a good warranty can save you a lot of it in the long run. "One of the benefits of purchasing a warranty for a product is knowing that if you have trouble with your purchase you are protected, and can turn to the manufacturer for repairs," Gonzalez explains. "Another benefit is the elimination of repair costs."

Not sure whether or not buying a warranty for a specific item is worth it? We asked Gonzales for advice about when to purchase a warranty, and here's what she had to share.

Mobile Phones

If you aren't purchasing an extended warranty to protect yourself from costly mobile phone repairs, Gonzales says you might be making a big mistake. "There are products for which you should have a warranty, and cell phones are one," she says. "We carry them with us at all times, and there are high chances of them being dropped, cracked, or exposed to humidity, which renders them inoperable. Since most phones (and repairs) are pretty expensive, some form of warranty is always recommended."

Big-Ticket Appliances

While you may be reluctant to pay extra money for a warranty on an already expensive appliance, Gonzales says it'll be worth it down the line. "Large appliances like refrigerators, air conditioning systems, washers, dryers, and stoves, are also on the list of items you should buy a warranty for," she says. "Most major appliances are very pricey, and having an extended warranty is a one-time investment that could ultimately save you money on future repairs, while offering you peace of mind."

Televisions

Ask anyone with a flat screen television and they'll tell you to make sure it has a good warranty. "TVs are getting bigger and more intricate, which means they also come with a steep price tag," Gonzales says. "The more expensive your television is, the more it will cost to fix should it break, which is why you should consider buying an extended warranty for it."

Landscaping Equipment

Similar to smart phones and televisions, Gonzalez says that pricey outdoor power equipment should always be covered by a warranty. "Lawn mowers and snow blowers, for example, are very complex pieces of equipment, which makes them expensive to fix," she explains. "Make sure to double-check the manufacturer's warranty and if doesn't cover the cost of future repairs or replacement parts, consider an extended warranty that does."

A General Rule for Everything

As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the item, the more important it is to have a warranty. However, not all warranties are created equally. Before purchasing an extended warranty, find out the limitations of the already-included manufacturer's warranty to ensure it doesn't already provide you with sufficient coverage. If you decide to purchase an extended warranty, take care to read through the fine print first. Some warranties don't cover accidental damages or they will require you to use specific service providers for repairs.

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