CareCredit Card Review: What You Should Know

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Updated on: Sep 3, 2020

CareCredit is a medical credit card that can be used to pay for everything from hospital bills and doctor’s visits to veterinary appointments and spa treatments.

The card is unique because it’s made for purchases related to health and wellness. So, if you’ve got an estimate for a medical procedure or you’re dealing with medical bills from past procedures or visits, you can use the card to pay those bills.

With the uncertainty that medical expenses bring, a card like the one CareCredit offers provides a sense of stability.

However, the CareCredit card is only good in certain situations. Our review will help you decide if this is the right option for financing your medical bills.

Pros
  • Instant approval
  • You can use your card number immediately
  • Multiple short- and long-term financing options
Cons
  • Deferred interest
  • High APR

How It Works

You can sign up for the CareCredit card on their website or by downloading their iOS or Android app to fill out an application. Approval is instant but there is always the possibility of CareCredit denying your application.

Upon approval, CareCredit will give you a card number you can use the same day. You don’t have to wait for the card to arrive in the mail.

Also, the CareCredit app has a digital copy of your card. So, if you forget your physical card at home, you can use the digital card to make purchases.

CareCredit does an excellent job of making their card available as quickly as possible. Most credit card approvals require you to wait a week or so to get your new card in the mail.

The CareCredit card is a good fit for lump-sum payments at doctor’s offices that require you to pay for a procedure up-front. Some offices will ask you to pay half your estimate beforehand, while others may ask for full payment.

You can use the card to pay for medical bills you already incurred, too. You have the option to pay off your entire balance with your card or use the card to make monthly payments.

Where You Can Use It

More than 200,000 medical facilities accept CareCredit, including LASIK surgery centers and some Rite-Aid stores. Types of facilities that accept the card include:

  • Animal and pet care
  • Chiropractic
  • Cosmetic
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Fitness
  • Hearing
  • Labs and diagnostics
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Pharmacies/ personal care
  • Primary care/ clinics
  • Sleep
  • Spa
  • Specialists
  • Surgery centers
  • Vision
  • Weight loss

You can use CareCredit’s search tool to find out which medical providers and vets near you accept the card.

Financing Terms

Your financing options fall into two categories: payment plans and regular purchases.

Payment Plans

CareCredit knows that medical bills tend to be more expensive than the average purchase.

Therefore, they give you a variety of deferred interest rates based on what you spend and your repayment length:

Purchases of at least $200:

  • 0% for 6 months
  • 0% for 12 months
  • 0% for 18 months
  • 0% for 24 months

Purchases of at least $1,000:

  • 14.90% for 24 months
  • 15.90% for 36 months
  • 16.90% for 48 months

Purchases of at least $2,500:

  • 17.90% for 60 months

Regular Purchases

Your card has a 26.99% regular APR. You will pay this interest rate on any purchases you don’t pay off on your due date.

This rate is high, as most credit cards have APR’s that range from around 15% to 27%.

Takeaways

The CareCredit’s deferred interest will charge you on the original purchase amount if you don’t pay off your balance by the end of the 0% offer.

Therefore, approach CareCredit’s promotional offers with caution. If you know that you won’t be able to pay off the balance before the promotional interest period is over, don’t sign up. There are other options available for you.

How to Choose Between CareCredit and Other Payment Options

Each of the options in the chart below solves your problem. They provide financing for costs that you can’t pay with cash.

We included the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa because it’s a good example of a card with a 0% interest offer that you can use to finance your purchase.

CareCredit Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Doctor or hospital payment plan
Bonus for signing up None $150 None
Introductory APR 0% or 14.90%–17.90% 0% for 15 months None
Repayment periods 6 to 60 months 15 months Varies
Deferred interest Yes No No
Regular interest 26.99% 15.49%–27.49% None
Same monthly payment amount No No Yes
Down payment required? No No Sometimes
Payments reported to credit bureaus? Yes Yes No

Payment Plans Are Best

Explore your medical provider’s payment plans first. In most cases, the provider’s billing department can put you on a payment plan that requires no down payment and charges no interest.

Also, there’s a good chance you can negotiate with billing about your monthly payment amount. For example, my wife had a $1,700 hospital bill after the birth of our son. We negotiated a $35-per-month payment plan.

0% APR Credit Cards Are a Good Backup

If the medical provider doesn’t do payment plans or the monthly payments are too high, a 0% credit card is a good alternative.

The main benefit of this card is that it eliminates deferred interest. Also, a card like the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa has one introductory rate (0%) no matter how much you spend.

Finally, the card from Wells Fargo has a $150 sign-up bonus if you can spend $500 in the first three months.

There are two drawbacks, though.

First, it can take up to 10 days for your credit card to arrive after the card issuer approves your application.

Second, unlike a doctor’s payment plan, you won’t know what your monthly payments for your medical bills will be. However, there’s an easy way to figure that out.

Most credit card companies require you to pay 2% to 3% of your balance each month. Multiply the bill you want to pay by 2% and 3%. The results are your likely range of monthly payments during the 0% period.

CareCredit Is a Last Resort

If the medical professional doesn’t offer payment plans and you can’t qualify for a 0% credit card, CareCredit may be your only option.

The card’s 0% and reduced interest periods are good, but you only get their full benefit by paying off your balance before the interest promotion ends.

The Bottom Line

When you find yourself facing big medical bills from future or past procedures, CareCredit’s credit card is a fast solution.

The fact that you can use it within minutes of completing your application is an excellent perk.

However, the card’s deferred interest structure and high regular APR make it an expensive option. Payment plans from your provider offer the best chance of manageable monthly payments and no-interest long-term financing.

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