5 On Your Side

Extended warranties mostly void of real savings

Posted February 22

Extended warranties are often described as cash cows for retailers because stores typically keep 50 percent or more of what they charge you, but those longer warranties might not be worth the money.

When you lay out big bucks for a new appliance, computer or car, you want it to last. A service contract or extended warranty is almost always suggested and can cost hundreds of dollars.

Here are five things to consider before you buy one:

–Repairs may be covered by your manufacturer's warranty. There's a good chance your product is covered for at least 90 days. A service plan may duplicate coverage.

–Products seldom break within the service plan window, the two-to-three-year period after the manufacturer's warranty expires and the service plan kicks in.

–Repairs typically don't cost as much as the warranty. A Consumer Reports survey found the difference was about $16. So, if you need a fix, it'd cost about as much as if you had paid for the plan.

–With extended warranties for cars, it's better to buy a reliable car and skip the warranty. But if you must have one, shop around: Coverage and cost vary widely.

–Your credit card may provide coverage. Many credit cards automatically extend the manufacturer's warranty up to a year or so on many products purchased entirely with the card. The coverage is free.

Another thing to know is that most service contracts or extended warranties cover only repairs, not replacement of an item.

One exception about extended warranties, though, are Apple computers.

Consumer Reports says that while Apple computers break less frequently than Windows machines, the fixes are pricier. In addition to the warranties, Apple is known for providing good technical support along with the Genius Bars in stores.


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  • John Kramer Feb 23, 2017
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    I agree it is often worth the price. Consumer Reports is so irrelevant nowadays, they are still recommending foreign cars only. That should have stopped in the 80's. Glad you got a warranty.

  • Lance Cotten Feb 22, 2017
    user avatar

    we purchased new front load samsung washer and dryers back in 2013 and the 5 year extended warranty was like $150 well let me tell you it's more than paid for itself... have had 3 repairs on the washing machine alone and the dryer is about to be repaired too. these new appliances have so many electronics something is more than likely going to break in the first 3 years!