Dental Loans: How to Use Personal Loans to Finance Dental Work
What happens if you don’t have enough cash for a procedure?
Rather than put off dental work, a dental loan can provide much-needed financing to improve your smile or maintain your dental health.
What Are Dental Loans?
To be clear, dental loans aren’t necessarily specific to dental work.
These are personal loans used to pay for a dental procedure. You can get a loan if you don’t have dental insurance, or if your dental insurance doesn’t completely cover an appointment.
The good news:
Dental loans is that they’re usually unsecured personal loans. In other words, you don’t have to pledge collateral.
Keep in mind, though, unsecured personal loans tend to have higher interest rates. Your rate is largely determined by your credit score. So maintaining a high score can help you get the most affordable terms.
Minimum credit score requirements vary depending on the financial institution issuing the loan.
Some lenders might require a minimum credit score between 600 and 640. But it’s also possible to find loans without a minimum credit requirement.
Lenders will allow you to borrow up to a certain amount, based on your income and credit.
And some loans even involve an origination fee, which can start at one percent of the loan amount.
Dental loans also have flexible repayment terms, which can range from a few months to a few years.
Where to Find Personal Loans for Dental Work
If you need a loan for dental work, several financial institutions offer unsecured personal loans.
Banks or credit unions
If you have a relationship with a bank or credit union, this is an excellent place to start looking for financing.
Because of your existing relationship, the financial institution might reward your loyalty with a competitive interest rate.
Or, you can apply for a personal loan with an online lender.
Sometimes, online lenders offer better rates than a brick and mortar bank. They have fewer physical locations, so they tend to have lower overhead costs.
This results in big savings for their customers.
Speak with your dental office.
They might work with a network of banks, credit unions, or finance companies, which they can recommend to you.
How to Apply for Personal Loans
If you’re interested in getting an unsecured personal loan to pay for dental work, here’s how to apply:
1. Check your credit
It’s important to check your credit history before applying for any loan. Your credit report says a lot about your ability to manage debt and credit.
Make sure the information on your report is accurate.
Negative items reported in error can decrease your score, making it harder to get a loan. Order a free copy of your credit reports from AnnualCreditReport.com.
You can also contact the three major credit bureaus separately to get your reports. Once you have your reports, review them and dispute any errors.
To improve your credit, pay your bills on time, pay off other debt, and don't apply for too many new credit accounts.
2. Gather documentation
Along with your loan application, you’ll provide the lender with supporting documentation.
This will include income statements, such as your recent paycheck stubs, W-2s, or tax returns. Some banks may even ask for a copy of your bank statement.
Have this information handy and ready to send to your lender.
Keep in mind:
The bank will conduct its own credit check with your authorization.
The sooner you submit your supporting documentation, the sooner you’re approved.
3. Get multiple quotes
When applying for a loan, some people make the mistake of only getting one rate quote.
However, loan rates can vary considerably from lender to lender.
To keep your payments low and affordable, request a free rate quote from at least two or three lenders. This allows you to compare rates, origination fees, and repayment terms.
Although dental loans are typically unsecured personal loans, you might not qualify for this type of loan if you have bad credit or no credit.
If not, you might qualify for a secured personal loan.
Secured loans do require collateral. This protects the lender’s interest. In the event that you stop paying the loan, the lender can take your collateral as repayment.
Collateral is personal property of value. It can include the title to a car, boat, or motorcycle. Some people also pledge jewelry, bank accounts, and other assets as collateral.
If you’re unable to get a personal loan due to low credit, you might qualify after adding a cosigner to the loan.
This is someone with good credit who promises to repay the loan if you can’t. Cosigners are often a relative like a parent, grandparent, spouse, or sibling.
Yur actions affect the cosigner’s credit.
This personal loan will also appear on their credit report. So if you default or make late payments, your actions can lower their credit score.
Alternative Financing for Dental Procedures
A dental loan, however, isn’t the only way to pay for a costly dental procedure.
One option is to apply for a medical credit card through a company like CareCredit.
If approved, you can take advantage of a short-term or long-term financing option. If you pay off the credit card in six, 12, 18, or 24 months, you’ll pay no interest on charges of $200 or more.
You’ll pay interest on a longer financing term, with rates based on your credit score and the term.
2. In-house financing
Another option is to speak with your dental office and ask about in-house financing.
This isn’t an option everywhere, but some offices will set up monthly payment arrangements directly with patients.
And the best part, these payment arrangements don’t typically include finance charges.
Dental offices may only offer in-house financing up to a certain amount, and the terms will likely be shorter than getting a loan or using a medical credit card.
3. Negotiate a cash discount
If you prefer to avoid a medical credit card or loan, let your dental office know that you’re paying with cash.
Some offices will negotiate and give patients a cash discount.
The amount of the discount varies depending on the procedure. This might involve going into your savings account to pay for the procedure.
The upside is that you’re able to avoid debt and interest.
4. Use a personal credit card
If you have a personal credit card with available credit, you can also use this to pay for a dental procedure.
Ideally, you should use a credit card that has a 0% interest rate or a low APR. You should also have a plan in place to pay off this debt within a short amount of time. If not, you could end up paying a lot in interest.
If your credit cards have higher interest rates, it might be cheaper to get a dental loan.
5. Call a dental school
If there’s a dental school located near you, see if you can schedule your procedure at the school. If so, you’re able to get the dental work at a lower price.
This is a common practice at dental schools, as it gives students experience working on patients.
But don’t worry, students have already received advanced training, and they’re working under the supervision of experienced professionals.
Procedures you can have at a dental school include routine cleanings, dental implants, and other common procedures.
6. Save up
For cosmetic dental procedures not covered by dental insurance, you can avoid loans and debt by saving up for the procedure. You should also shop around and compare prices among different dental offices.
Between saving up, getting a cash discount, and comparing prices, you might get a cosmetic procedure at a more affordable price.
Some dental procedures are expensive.
And while dental insurance does cover a large percentage of these appointments, it might not cover everything.
Many people have to pay out-of-pocket, which can be hundreds or thousands of dollars.
If you don’t have cash, a dental loan can provide the funds you need. But dental loans aren’t right for everyone. So consider other alternatives, too.