Hoon.co / I’m Hoon Park: a husband, father and product manager.

How do I get an out-of-warranty iPod replaced for free?

When I started my job with OtherInbox in October of 2008, my commute changed from a 2 minute walk to a 45-60 minute bus ride. I had never owned an iPod before, so I figured that was as good a time as any to finally pick one up. I chose an 8 GB iPod Touch (2nd gen) to listen to podcasts, watch video, check email and use apps on the wi-fi buses, etc. The iPod Touch has eventually turned into the gadget I use everyday and all the time, and it cost me $212 shipped from Amazon.

One feature of the iPod I use a lot when I’m at home is its external speaker. It comes in handy when I want to show my wife a video or to be alerted through a push notification. There is some sort of physical switch that tells it whether or not headphones are plugged in. Somehow, mine got stuck in the “headphones are in” position even when they weren’t, so the iPod’s speaker would no longer turn on.

Various online forums suggested I do a system restore, use compressed air to clean out the headphone jack or plug my headphones in and out over and over quickly to try to fix the switch. None of that worked. I took it in to an Apple Store genius who did the exact same thing to no avail.

Apple’s warranty on my iPod was for one year. Because my warranty expired a few months prior, Apple offered me an out-of-warranty replacement/repair cost of $119, and I would get a new device with identical specs. That seemed a little steep, so I thanked them for checking it out and went home to see what else I could do. Then, I remembered my credit card offers a benefit related to out-of-warranty repairs…

I used an Amazon.com Rewards Signature Visa card to buy the iPod. Because the card was of the “Visa Signature” variety, I get several benefits for using my card. One of those included something called a Warranty Manager Service. What does it do?

Warranty Manager Service offers Extended Warranty Protection that doubles the free repair period under the original manufacturer’s written U.S. repair warranty up to one (1) additional year on eligible warranties of three (3) years or less when an item is purchased entirely with your eligible Visa Signature card.

Basically, my one-year warranty was doubled to two years!

I contacted Visa and faxed them a copy of the repair estimate/invoice Apple gave me to replace my iPod. After a week or two to review my claim, a representative contacted me to say my claim was approved. They sent me a check for the $119 replacement cost. I didn’t even have to replace my iPod through Apple if I didn’t want to. I could just cash the check and keep my iPod Touch.

I chose to replace it. My previous iPod had a few scratches, so as a bonus, I have a brand new scratch-free iPod with a brand new battery!

This is yet another reason why I love using my credit card to pay for everything I buy (or as much as I can… still hoping I can pay my mortgage with a credit card one day). I get cash back (from 1-5% depending on what I buy) with every purchase. If my credit card is stolen or lost, I’m not liable for those charges (can’t get any cash reimbursed if I lose my wallet). By paying off the card in full each month, I effectively delay payment on my purchases for 30-60 days interest-free. And, through benefits like lost luggage reimbursement and collision coverage on rental cars (amongst a host of others), I get more than just a way to pay.

This post covers Visa’s policies, but other major credit cards (a list of MasterCard’s benefits and American Express’s) have similar benefits as well. In fact, since the time I purchased my iPod, I have switched the majority of my purchases to an American Express Blue card with the same warranty extension benefit (I checked).