If you need medical treatment but are unable to pay for it, you may be offered a medical credit card by your medical service provider. These credit cards work strictly for medical expenses only (although some can be used for veterinary services as well).
Many medical credit cards offer no-interest periods if you repay your debt within a certain time frame.
We have reviewed some of these credit cards below to help you better decide which medical credit card suits your needs, but we highly encourage you to read the fine print of any credit card you decide to get with care to make sure it is the best way to cover your medical expenses.
How do Medical Credit Cards Work?
As with any interest free credit card, you must pay the full balance on the card before the promotional period expires to avoid paying interest. Any balance left on the card after the promotional period will have interest charged on it retroactively.
Therefore, it is only a good deal to pay off the balance within the promotional period otherwise, a medical credit card is usually not a good deal at all and you are better off looking into other financing options that will cost you less in the long run.
Regular credit cards are actually a better deal if you cannot pay off the balance in time, as they do not charge the interest retroactively. Therefore, while the promotional period may be shorter, it can save you money in the end and the interest rate charged is typically lower than that charged by medical credit cards.
Other options for financing medical costs include a home equity loan, a personal loan, or withdrawing money from your retirement account. With today’s technology, some individuals have used crowdfunding as a way to raise the money for paying for their medical expenses. Crowdfunding involves asking people to make small donations and hoping that eventually, enough people will donate small amounts to add up to the amount you require to cover your medical costs.
Medical Credit Cards available in the US
CareCredit is probably the best known of all available medical credit cards. CareCredit offers 6, 12, 18, and 24 months no-interest periods as long as you are charging more than $200 to your card. After that, the interest rate is 26.99%.
Another advantage of the CareCredit card is the reduced interest rates offered for certain balances. Balances between $1,000 and $2,500 are charged interest at a rate of 14.90% for 24, 36, or 48 months while balances over $2,500 are charged 16.90 percent for 60 months.
Wells Fargo Health Advantage
This credit card offers no interest from 6 to 18 months, depending on the balance. After that period of time an interest rate of 12.99 percent is charged retroactively to any remaining balance. The range of services covered by this credit card is narrower than that of CareCredit.
The terms on this card vary depending on your healthcare provider. Take care to read all the details carefully so that you know exactly what you can expect when paying back your balance.
Applying for a Medical Credit Card
Medical credit cards are typically applied for at your doctor’s office, although CareCredit and Wells Fargo provide an online application process allowing you to find out whether you have been approved ahead of time. Make sure to read all of the fine print so that you understand all of the terms of the medical credit card.
As with any other type of credit card, you need to provide your personal information and income. From there the credit card issuer will check your credit rating to see if you qualify for the card as well as what your limit will be. If you do not meet their standards, they will deny your application, meaning you will have to look elsewhere for funding to cover your medical expenses.
Remember that a medical credit card is still a form of debt and it can affect your credit report so make sure you are able to make all payments on time.