Is an Extended Warranty Worth the Money?

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When you spend a couple of hundred dollars on a new piece of technology, the last thing you think about is that you may have to get it repaired at some point. But that’s not what the salesperson tells you. “For only a few extra dollars, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your printer will be covered in the event of a disaster,” is what I heard when I bought my printer.

Manufacturer's Warranty

Is an extended warranty worth the extra money? Probably not. First of all, my printer (a Canon Pixma) comes with its own limited warranty that’s good for a year in case it is defective, which is my major concern. True, it doesn’t cover “electrical current fluctuations,” but I have a surge protector (and if you have computers and peripherals plugged in, you should too) so I’m not too worried about that. Most major manufacturers are going to offer a similar warranty.

Use a Credit Card for Extra Protection

Since I bought the printer with a credit card, there’s also some additional protection there. American Express offers to reimburse me if it’s lost, stolen, or zapped by lightning in the first 90 days after purchase. If for some reason the store I bought the printer from won’t exchange it if it’s faulty, American Express also offers up to a $300 refund.

Other credit cards offer similar plans; check with your card’s issuer to find out what your options are if you have a problem with an item you purchased using that card. Just make sure you hang on to your receipt. Consumer Reports calls extended warranties “notoriously bad deals” and even took out an ad in USA Today that said simply, “Despite what the salesperson says, you don’t need an extended warranty.”

How Long Will It Last?

If you take care of your printer--perform regular maintenance, keep it clean, and avoid paper jams as much as possible--most printers will last at least 3-4 years if you print a lot. If your printing needs are minimal, your printer can live to be twice that age or more. Since scanners tend to be used less frequently than printers (and have fewer moving parts), there's no reason why they shouldn't last 6-10 years.

Bottom Line: If you want peace of mind, check the manufacturer’s warranty before you make your purchase, pay for your new technology with a credit card that offers some assistance, choose a good surge protector and keep the machine in good shape, and be gentle with electronics.