Rating

9.1

out of 10

Rank 02 / 04

Car Chex

A SMARTER WAY TO DO CAR

Overview

Overall, we really liked CARCHEX. We rated them number one among resellers and second overall. They were outranked by Endurance, which is an administrator and really performed head and shoulders above any of the competition. Nonetheless, CARCHEX did well in our eyes, and would make a good and reliable option for your extended auto warranty purchase. They’re a bigger company and have been in the business for over 19 years, and have built a solid reputation in that time. And they lived up to that reputation. They offer good coverage and good payment plans, and we found them to be friendly and easy to deal with. Their biggest cons, however, are that they are a reseller (meaning they don’t administer claims directly) and that their plans did cost a bit more than those of many companies we tested out.

Company Accolades

COMPANY FACTS

    Headquarter Location:
    118 Shawan Road, Suite 210 Baltimore, MD 21030

KEY FEATURES

  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Reseller working with several different providers
  • Accepted by most dealerships and any certified mechanic
  • Well-established, large company in business for over 19 years
BENEFITS
  • 24/7 roadside assistance
  • Payment plans up to 18 months
  • Plans are transferable if you sell your car
  • Wide variety of providers means more selection, more options to fit specific needs
  • Easy purchasing process
DOWNFALLS
  • Confusing car rental reimbursements
  • More expensive than some competitors
  • Claims and cancellation processes could be smoother

Initial Call

9.5

out of 10

Purchase

9

out of 10

Membership

9.5

out of 10

Post-sale

9

out of 10

Claims

9

out of 10

Cancellation

8.5

out of 10

Expert Review

CARCHEX impressed in some key ways. As a provider, we’ve ranked it second overall, based on ease of use, competent service, and high quality of coverage. They’re a reseller, meaning they don’t administer their own claims, but rather sell coverage from other companies who then handle claims if and when you have an issue with your vehicle. That said, as resellers go, they were our favorite. They’re a large company, they’ve been around longer than most of their competitors, and it shows. In fact, despite an overall preference for administrators, we decided to rank them second overall, because CARCHEX simply gave us the feeling that we were in good, competent hands from beginning to end. 

They have, by far, the most plan selection of any of the companies we tested. This is because they’re a reseller that works with several extended auto warranty administrators, rather than just one, so they have multiple options at every level. They were also more transparent than many of their competitors: They have a variety of sample contracts and car model-specific data sheets posted publicly on their website, and when you get a quote over the phone, they send you a link to it so you can return to and access the quote if you want to review it before making a purchase. That was something we really liked – it felt like, as much as anyone in the greater insurance industry could, they worked to live up to their ‘no haggle,’ customer-first promises. 

The downside of their no haggle promise is that you, well, can’t haggle with them. In the end, the quote we received from them was about $1,000 more than the quote we received for the same car (a 2013 four-door BMW 328xi with 45,000 miles) and same top tier of coverage at Endurance. Nonetheless, we found everyone we dealt with at CARCHEX to be helpful, friendly, and forthcoming. There were no high pressure tactics, and anything we did need was quickly and easily handled by phone. 

Like many of their competitors, CARCHEX offers roadside assistance and towing – in this particular case, towing up to 100 miles. They have payment plans stretched out up to 18 months, which is a little less than some of their competitors, but relatively reasonable. And their plans are transferable or eligible for pro-rated refunds, which we found to be a big plus. Transferable plans can be passed on if you sell your car and can add resale value, and a pro-rated refund option means you don’t pay for more of the service than you actually were able to make use of.

The claims process seemed fairly simple – you can file online or by phone, and they pay the mechanic directly. That said, experiences will vary depending on which administrator you use since, again, CARCHEX basically functions as a middle man, selling you coverage but not dealing with claims directly. The plan we went with was provided by American Auto Shield, which happens to be the same administrator used by CarShield, for better or worse. Cancellation was a bit of a challenge – like Endurance, you have to send in a letter stating your intention to cancel. But, once we did that, it all went fairly smoothly. And we were able (thankfully) to make use of their 30-day money back guarantee.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

Top to bottom, we had a pretty smooth, positive experience with CARCHEX. It’s not the plan we decided to stick with long term, but it was our second choice out of all the plans we tried. We liked their friendliness and professionalism, their transparency, and their wide array of options to cover just about any vehicle. We didn’t like their price tag, and have found that we generally prefer administrators, where you work with the same company for claims and benefits as you do when dealing with coverage. CARCHEX doesn’t have an app or social media presence, but their website and member platform (though slightly confusing at times) both have a ton of information.

Initial Call

9.5

out of 10

Initial Call

When we first called in, we spoke with a sales representative named Eric McNey. He was very nice, very communicative, and didn’t put pressure on us to buy on the spot. Instead, we were emailed a link to our quote after that initial call. Our first, general impression would be that, with roughly 20 years in the business, they’ve had time to settle in and become a little less frantic for sales than some newer competitors. They seem, at least from the outside, to know what they’re doing and have a business model that doesn’t require high-pressure, fast-paced sales.

After that first call, we received some basic follow-up emails, but nothing crazy. We neither felt inundated nor totally forgotten. They weren’t necessarily the most informative emails, but they certainly weren’t bothersome.

Purchase

9

out of 10

Purchase

Once we called back, it was very easy to purchase. This was something we really liked and found to be true of any contact we made with them. They had a system in place, it was smooth and easy, and we felt taken care of – never pushed, never forgotten or dismissed. They were easily able to find our quote, then took our credit card information over the phone and charged it in the moment. No complicated billing process, no getting transferred around, just smooth.

Here are the details of the plan we ended up trying out from CARCHEX: 

  • Titanium Plus plan provided by American Auto Shield (their top tier)
  • 5-year or 100,000 miles exclusionary warranty
  • 30-day waiting period
  • 18 month payment plan
  • First month’s payment as down payment with a 30-day money back guarantee
  • Deductible: $200
  • No trip interruption
  • Rental car reimbursement: $40/day (but based on auto shop labor hours)
  • Transferable or pro-rated refund
  • Everything covered except wear and tear

Membership

9.5

out of 10

Membership

While coverage in general was pretty even across the board from company to company, we did find that the Titanium Plus package came with some nice benefits that were not always offered by competitors. Titanium Plus includes lockout and winching services, tire repairs and replacements up to a lifetime value of $500, and fuel delivery and battery jumping. On the flip side, this was one of the few contracts we received with no trip inference reimbursements to speak of. And the rental car issue we’ve mentioned, but let’s dig in a little more.

Essentially, most extended auto warranties offer rental car reimbursements when your car is in the shop. That way, you’re not left car-less when a problem happens. Those reimbursements are typically $30 or $40 but can be as much as $75 per day, with some companies setting a limit on the number of days they’ll reimburse you for. CARCHEX also offers a rental car reimbursement in the case of a breakdown or other issue, but their system isn’t based on the number of days your car is in the shop. Rather, they base how much they’ll reimburse you on the number of hours of labor your car needs, according to the auto shop that’s fixing it. So you’re approved for $40 if the car needs 4 hours of labor, and then another $40 for each additional 8 hours of labor it requires. Which means, rather than a flat guaranteed daily rate, you may not know how much you’ll be reimbursed for your rental car until after the work on your car is done and the rental car is returned. This also means that you’ll definitely be paying the full price of your rental car out of pocket up front and then requesting reimbursement later.

While it seems like a small thing – $40 per day or not – since many issues an extended auto warranty might cover could require your car to be out of commission for a while, it’s worth considering that process.

Post-sale

9

out of 10

Post-sale

Social Media

CARCHEX has no real social media presence. They have a Facebook account, but the last post was in April of 2019, and their last tweet was in 2017, so we wouldn’t expect to reach customer service or get much in the way of information of any sort via their social media accounts.

App

CARCHEX has an online user platform for filing claims and reviewing your contract, but does not have any sort of mobile app iteration of the platform.

Emails

We received limited marketing emails from CARCHEX. We were gently nudged to act on our quote via email in the time between our initial call and our call back to purchase, but not too much more. They were neither inundating us nor totally silent on email.

Call

We spoke to CARCHEX on the phone three times. We made an initial call, called back to make our purchase, and called customer service with a few questions to get a better sense of the process of getting a hold of someone and to get a sense of their team. Everyone we spoke to was friendly, knew their stuff, and kept conversation light, with no hard sells anywhere.

Wait Times

Since they are a big company, we did have to deal with an automated service to have our call directed correctly. However, for each call, we were dealt with fairly promptly. There were a few minutes of hold time here and there, but there were no egregious, hour-long waits.

Content

While not heavily featured on their website (read: it’s a bit hard to find), if you scroll down to the bottom of the CARCHEX website, you’ll see a column of links titled “Do Your Research.” These links, collectively, lead to a great array of resources, including information on auto industry fraud and scams, news, advice on just about everything vehicle-related you can think of, and a section dedicated to tips from Pat Goss of MotorWeek (though it seems, frankly, unlikely to us that he had much of a hand in any of the content other than the video at the top of the section.) Regardless, their resources are plentiful and we were pleased to see them – even if their blog hasn’t been updated since 2016.

Claims

9

out of 10

Claims

Claims are definitely where this recommendation gets very slightly more hairy when considered in relation to our top administrator picks. CARCHEX works with at least 10 different administrators, and while the company claims they’re all top-notch, it’s hard to imagine that the process and experience won’t vary dependant on which you get. And their website makes it feel like filing a claim (which we didn’t need to actually do while testing, fortunately) may be a tad complicated, since they have fingers in so many different pots. For one, they seem to have neglected to include the phone number for American Auto Shield on their list of administrator phone numbers on their public website. Now, we had other ways of getting the right number, but that could’ve been frustrating in a pinch.

That said, again, we didn’t have any bad experiences with them, so maybe it is all sunshine and lollipops. And American Auto Shield, at the very least, seemed competent and responsive in all of our dealings with them, both via CARCHEX and CarShield. But that would be our one word of caution. 

In short, we’d recommend any intrepid potential buyer consider researching each of the administrators individually before making a final selection, should they be seriously considering CARCHEX.

Cancellation

8.5

out of 10

Cancellation

Lastly, the cancellation process with CARCHEX could have been slightly smoother, but was not massively bothersome. Rather than putting you through the rigamarole of bargaining to see if you’ll stay for a lower price (again, haggle free service), they simply require that you mail in a signed letter to cancel. It’s old school and not the most fun you can have on a Tuesday, but in the grand scheme of things, we weren’t deeply inconvenienced by it. And they did honor the 30-day money back guarantee without issue, so overall, the cancellation process went as smoothly as it could, all things considered.

What customers are saying about Car Chex

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6 / 10

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