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What is Care Credit for Veterinary Bills?

It’s never easy to pay for an unexpected vet visit, especially when the dog or cat needs an expensive procedure. If you are caught without the funds to pay for medical care, there are alternatives. You may want to consider applying for a healthcare credit card, like Care Credit. Pet insurance can even be used in conjunction with this financing plan to help you avoid the initial expense at the vet’s and get reimbursed later by the insurance company. 

This line of credit is accepted by thousands of veterinarians and vet hospitals around the country. Plus, it’s simple to apply for and get an answer quickly in the office or online. Let’s find out more about CareCredit and what the potential pros and cons of this lender are for pet owners.

About Care Credit

To be clear, there is no Care Credit pet insurance. CareCredit is a credit card brand owned by the financing company, Synchrony Financial. They are dedicated to extending credit to consumers for the specific purpose of paying for healthcare costs. 

The company was first established in 1987 as DenCharge by a company that made and sold dental implants. They needed a way for potential customers to afford the high costs of getting implants so created a private label credit card. Over the years, their healthcare financing service expanded to other areas of healthcare, including:

  • General Dental Care
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Veterinary Care
  • Cosmetic Surgery 
  • LASIK Surgery
  • Audiology
  • Hair Replacement
  • Prescriptions
  • Over-the-Counter Medications

As a result, the company changed their name to CareCredit to better reflect their broader services. At the present, CareCredit is accepted by over 200,000 healthcare providers and healthcare-focused retail locations. It’s also in use by 11+ cardholders.

Pros

  • You only apply for the CareCredit card once and can use it over and over again, as long as you have credit available and your account is in good standing.
  • The card can be used for a wide range of healthcare needs, not just your pet’s healthcare. You can also use it at participating doctors and pharmacies.
  • This card can be a good supplement to use in addition to your pet’s health insurance. Put the initial charge on the card and let your insurance reimburse you later.
  • Balances can be paid off over time with monthly payments, easing the impact on your budget.
  • You can apply for CareCredit at a participating veterinarian and get services immediately if approved. There is no need to wait for your card in the mail.
  • CareCredit offers special financing options, such as No interest if Paid in Full Within 6, 12, 18, and 24 months, and reduced interest for 24, 36, 48, and 60 months on larger amounts.

>>MORE: Top Companies for Cheap Pet Insurance for 2020

Cons

  • This isn’t a Care Credit pet insurance plan that will reimburse you. It is a credit card. You will be responsible for paying the entire balance plus any interest accrued.
  • You have to qualify for credit. The application takes into account your income and your credit history.
  • You may only qualify for a limited amount of credit, which only covers part of a major veterinary bill. Credit limits start at $200 and go up from there.
  • The standard Cardholder’s APR is 26.99%, but this can vary depending on special financing or your previous credit history.
  • If you don’t keep up with the minimum payments, your credit card may go into default and become a negative mark on your credit history.

>>MORE: The Best Pet Insurance Companies for 2020

What are the Ratings for CareCredit?

Synchrony Financial, the credit company behind CareCredit, has a three star rating out of five stars on Consumer Affairs. This is an average rating based on about 717 reviews submitted to the site. Most of the positive reviews are from users who enjoy the convenience of having dedicated credit cards for purchases and healthcare needs. Several users also remarked that they liked the automated phone system, which handled most of their needs when they called in. However, there were also negative one and two star reviews from people who didn’t like the extensive phone system. 

Negative reviews on Consumer Affairs were from people who were upset that the company had closed their account for a prolonged period of non-use, or whose accounts had reached the end of a special financing period. Many people were upset about the high interest rates on the CareCredit card. 

Comparing CareCredit with Other Options

There are only a handful of major credit card and financing companies which are dedicated to covering healthcare costs, and even fewer that cover veterinary care. We have gathered basic information on a couple of them to compare the interest rates and benefits of these cards against Care Credit, pet insurance, and other payment options that pet owners may be researching.

Lender/Credit CardFees/InterestBenefits
CareCreditStandard 26.99% APR; Variable rates for special financing and higher creditNo Interest If Paid In Full Within 6, 12, 18, or 24 Months
Wells Fargo Health Advantage 12.99%Reduced rate equal payment promotions; Free access to  FICO® Credit Score
iCare FinancialNo interest charges, but they do charge a flat administrative feeYou get automatic approval with no credit check

Wells Fargo Health Advantage is also like CareCredit in that it is a credit card with a revolving line of credit you can use for multiple purposes from a dental visit to pharmacy expenses to your dog’s immunizations. If you don’t want a card for a one-time expense, you might want to consider iCare Financial, which offers easy approval and flat payments. However, this lender may only be available at a limited number of veterinary offices.

>>MORE: Compare the 4 Biggest Pet Insurance Companies

How Easy to Apply for CareCredit?

It’s not hard to apply for the CareCredit card. You can do so online, via phone, or at a participating veterinarian’s office. When you apply through any of these methods, you should receive an answer regarding credit approval within a few seconds. The process to apply online starts by visiting the CareCredit website. Their homepage has a simple “Apply Now” button that you can click on right away.

Next, you’ll be taken to a page that starts your application. This short form will ask you to provide your doctor’s information or to indicate what you plan on using the credit card for, such as veterinary care. Once you’ve filled in these details you can click the “Apply Now” button again to be taken to the next page.

The “Your Information” page gets into the nitty gritty details of your contact information, social security number, and income. You can also add a joint applicant here. When you click “Continue,” the website will take a minute to determine if you are qualified. If so, you’ll be moved through the process of selecting your terms and payment options.

Final Thoughts:

  • CareCredit is a credit card that is dedicated to paying for healthcare in a variety of industries, including veterinary care. 
  • Its revolving line of credit means you only need to be approved once and can use the card over and over again.
  • You can use both Care Credit, pet insurance together to cover the expense of an unexpected vet bill.
  • There is a high APR on the card, but you can get special payment plans with zero interest or reduced interest. You’ll need to pay off the balance within a set time frame to avoid interest that accrues on the card.
  • You can easily apply for the card online, via phone, or in-person and get an answer regarding credit approval within seconds.
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