What is a CareCredit® Credit Card?
Relax and stop wondering about how you'd cover the doctor bills when you're short on cash. Because the CareCredit® card from Synchrony Bank is one of several cards that are designed just for medical expenses, you may be able to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses without ending up with a mountain of debt.
This card gives you two different promotional financing offers to choose from, depending on how much you need to charge.
It’s worth a look if you’ve got a large medical expense to cover or you want some flexibility in how you pay for things like co-pays or repeat treatments. If that sounds like something you need, learn whether CareCredit® is actually a good fit.
CareCredit® Credit Card Basics
The CareCredit® credit card isn’t like a regular credit card that you can use to pick up groceries or book a flight. This card is only meant to be used for health care expenses. The list of things you can use it for includes:
- Cosmetic procedures, such as hair removal, rhinoplasty, Botox injections or other dermatologic services
- Dental services like preventative checkups, whitening, veneers and dental implants
- Hearing services, including auditory testing, hearing devices and noise-cancelling headphones purchased at the doctor’s office
- LASIK and vision care, including cataract surgery, eye exams, eye glasses and contact lenses
- Veterinary care, which applies to most services and products purchased at a vet’s office
- Other health care expenses such as LAPBAND surgery, chiropractic services and sleep studies if you have a condition like sleep apnea
The great thing about the CareCredit® card is you can use it for anyone in your family, not just yourself. So you can use the card to pay for your spouse’s LASIK surgery, your child’s dentist visits, or pet vaccination shots.
In terms of where you can use the card, CareCredit® works with more than 175,000 medical providers and 4,000 retailers across the country. That includes major drugstore chains like Rite-Aid, which is good if you need to pick up a prescription or stock up on something like diabetes testing strips.
Tip: If you’re not sure where the card will work, CareCredit® features a locator tool on its website that can help you pinpoint which doctors and pharmacists in your area accept it.
Applying for the CareCredit® Credit Card
You’ve got three ways to apply for the CareCredit® card. You can either apply online, over the phone or in your doctor’s office. According to CareCredit’s website, approval is instant and you can start using the card right away. If you apply in the doctor’s office and you’re approved, you can use the card that same day.
You'll need your Social Security number when you apply, which means your credit is a factor in the approval decision. That’s something to keep in mind if your credit isn’t that great because of something negative like late payments or collection accounts.
Tip: Check out the guide to hacking your perfect credit score if yours could use a boost.
Promotional Financing on Healthcare Expenses
The top selling point for the card is its promotional financing terms. As mentioned earlier, there are two ways to take advantage of promotional financing:
- No-interest financing
- Reduced-APR financing
With the no interest financing plan, you pay zero interest on your balance as long as it’s paid in full before the promotional period ends.
The promotional periods are either:
- 6 months
- 12 months
- 18 months
- 24 months
There’s a minimum payment due each month but be aware that just paying the minimum may not wipe out the balance before your zero interest period is up.
If you still owe something after your promotional financing runs out, any leftover balance is subject to the regular purchase APR.
The no-interest financing offer is suited towards someone who’s charging a smaller expense and is able to pay it off relatively quickly. If you’re paying for something big like dental implants, on the other hand, the reduced-APR offer might be the way to go.
The reduced-APR financing offer is geared towards people who are charging more and need longer to pay it off.
- If you charge at least $1,000, you can stretch out your payments over 24, 36 or 48 months.
- If you’re charging $2,500 or more, you can choose from a 24, 36, 48, or 60-month repayment term.
Obviously, the more you charge and the longer you take to pay it off, the more interest you’re going to pay. Whether you should choose this plan really depends on how much your expenses are and how long you think it’ll take to clear the debt.
It’s good to have that option if something unexpected comes up that you’re not prepared for.
Other Card Benefits and Protections
Being a health credit card, you won't find the traditional credit card benefits with this card.
Can you earn rewards?
The short answer is no. You won’t be able to snag any points, miles or cash back when you use the card. If that’s something you’re interested in, you should consider the top rewards credit cards.
Are there any card perks?
Again, this card is only for medical expenses so that limits you in terms of extras. You’ll need to look elsewhere for things like free FICO score access, travel benefits or extended warranty programs.
What are the card protections?
Synchrony Bank and CareCredit® take your security seriously and they have a step-by-step plan for dealing with fraud if you suspect someone has used your card to make unauthorized purchases.
If you’re worried about not being able to pay your bill because of an illness or a job loss, you can sign up for the optional Card Security program. This program cancels your monthly payment or up to $10,000 in charges if any of the following occur:
- Leave of absence
- Nursing home stay
- Loss of life
This coverage costs $1.66 for every $100 you owe at the close of your monthly billing statement. That would come to $16.60 for every $1,000 owed. That might be worth looking into if you need a little extra peace of mind and you’re okay paying the fee.
Are There Any Fees?
Besides the fee for the Card Security program, there’s only one other fee to worry about and that’s the late fee. Synchrony Bank can charge you up to $37 if you don’t pay the minimum on time.
Tip: Set up automatic payments through your bank or payment alerts through an app like Mint so you never miss a due date.
What are the Drawbacks?
The biggest drawback with this card is the regular APR. This rate applies to balances carried over after the promotional period ends. One thing we also need to note is the fact that it applies to purchases that don’t qualify for promotional financing. Essentially, if you use your card for a health care expense that’s not covered, you’re going to be stuck paying the interest rate until it’s paid off.
That’s a hefty price to pay so you might look into a backup card that you can use to cover expenses that wouldn’t be eligible for promotional financing. For example, you might be able to get a card with a 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 18 months. That way, you’re not roped into paying more than you need to in interest.
Credit Card Alternatives to CareCredit
Regular credit cards can also provide similar low-interest or special financing options to those offered by the CareCredit Credit Card. Here's a card to consider:
Citi Simplicity®is known for offering a lengthy introductory 0% APR with no annual fee, no late fees, and no penalty APR. You'll enjoy an extended period of time where you don't have to pay any interest charges on your balance. This can mean significant savings if you just want a credit card for major health expenses.
Should You Get The CareCredit® Credit Card?
The CareCredit® card is a winner if you need a convenient, flexible way to pay for one-time or recurring medical expenses. The no interest promotional financing is its most attractive feature but only if you can realistically afford to pay the balance off.
Ultimately, this card is best for someone who’s confident they can pay down their balance in 24 months or less and isn’t looking to rack up rewards on medical expenses.