How Does Care Credit Work?

The CareCredit® credit card* is a healthcare credit card designed to provide special financing options for health expenses. A cardholder can use a CareCredit card to pay for medical services like emergency care, pharmacy costs, surgery, labs, primary care, pet care, and more. CareCredit is often used for out-of-pocket costs that health insurance doesn’t cover, including copayments or deductibles—enabling consumers to defer payments on pricey uninsured health costs.

utility sector

CareCredit is issued by Synchrony Bank. Its website states that CareCredit is accepted by over 250,000 enrolled providers in the U.S.. The special financing options vary and should be discussed with a care provider before selecting a promotion. Prospective cardholders can see if they prequalify for a CareCredit card by filling out a basic application on the company website.

How to Apply for CareCredit

There are no membership requirements to apply for CareCredit. U.S. residents 18 and over may apply online. Those applying by phone must be 21 or over. The issuer offers a simple application that lets applicants know whether they prequalify for a credit card, all without impacting credit scores. Like most credit card applications, this one requires basic information like name, date of birth, social security number and net income.

Prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval. If an applicant prequalifies, he or she can fill out a longer application requiring a hard credit check. New cardholders can select the promotion offered after being approved for the credit card.

CareCredit’s Special Financing Options

CareCredit’s main draws are the special financing options offered to cardholders. Short-term promotional periods offer zero interest while long-term promotions offer lower APRs than the standard 26.99% —an APR higher than that of even the top-rated rewards-earning credit cards. The entire balance must be paid off during the promotional period to avoid accruing higher interest. Cardholders are not required to select a promotional offer when applying (it can be selected after approval and before paying for a large medical expense). Not all providers offer the same promotional options, so it’s important to check with a healthcare provider before applying.

Short-Term Financing Options

CareCredit offers 6, 12, 18 or 24-month financing with no interest on purchases of $200 or more. Assuming the cardholder makes one large purchase for a medical expense, the balance should be paid off by the end of the promotional period to avoid interest. If the balance is not paid in full, you will be responsible for the deferred interest.

Cardholders should check with their providers and read all of the card’s terms before selecting a promotional period. Beware of low promotional APRs that, upon expiration, require a cardholder to pay high interest that has been deferred from the purchase date—not the end of the promotional period like with many standard 0% introductory APR credit cards.

Long-Term Financing Options

CareCredit’s long-term options offer lower interest rates than the high, standard purchase APR. There are 24, 36, 48, or 60-month promotional periods with varying reduced APRs and fixed monthly payments.

Purchases of $1,000 or more are eligible for:

· 24 months—14.90% APR

· 36 months—15.90% APR

· 48 months—16.90% APR

Purchases of $2,500 or more eligible for:

· 60 months—17.90% APR

CareCredit’s long-term plans have fixed monthly payments allowing the cardholder to pay off the entire balance by the end of the period. Beware that these APRs are considered high and that many standard credit cards offer lower APRs. While we understand not everyone has the privilege of choice when it comes to financing options, we highly recommend exploring every available option—especially non-credit-card lines of credit—before signing up to risk paying high APRs like these. If you aren’t yet familiar with APR or need a refresher, check out our guide to APR and our advice about what a good APR is.

How to Avoid Paying Higher Interest

CareCredit can seem like a convenient option for medical expenses, but be aware that CareCredit’s minimum monthly payments calculated for short-term promotional periods may not result in paying off the entire balance by the end of the period. Instead, apply for and use CareCredit. You should calculate their own equal minimum monthly payment by dividing the total balance by the number of months allotted for the promotional period. Only paying the minimum payments as indicated by CareCredit will mean a remaining balance by the end of the period that may eventually mean paying hefty interest.

CareCredit Limits

Your credit history determines the credit limit on your CareCredit card. The minimum purchase on these cards is $200, and the maximum credit limit for those with a good credit score is $25,000.4

High credit limits, combined with the ease with which CareCredit cards can be obtained, can be a good way for people with a poor credit history to pay for medical bills. Be warned, though, that CareCredit cards can be expensive if you aren’t able to make your repayments on time.

$25,000

CareCredit has a credit limit maximum of $25,000.

Risks of CareCredit

Though their marketing pitches focus on providing access to affordable healthcare, it is important for consumers to keep in mind that CareCredit—and other similar healthcare credit card companies—are in business to make a profit. They offer no-interest financing, counting on many consumers overextending themselves and being unable to pay their bills in full, thus incurring expensive financing charges. They may also count on consumers misunderstanding the terms.

Branded medical credit cards are essentially an unsecured line of credit offered by some healthcare providers. The card isn’t part of the Visa and Mastercard payment network, so it can’t be used for everyday purchases. It’s often a way for doctors to allow patients to finance elective procedures that are not covered by insurance, like cosmetic surgery. Akin to private label retail store credit cards, these products generally have limited usage options and higher long-term interest rates compared with general use credit cards.

There are also some worrying signs that CareCredit may not be acting in good faith. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), CareCredit has “misled some consumers during the enrollment process by not providing adequate guidance clearly laying out the terms of the deferred-interest loans.”5 Such loans assess interest starting from the date of purchase throughout the promotional period; if cardholders fail to pay the debt in full by the end of that period, they must pay all the accrued interest (not just interest on the remaining balance).

In 2013, CFPB ordered CareCredit (at that time, CareCredit was a subsidiary of GE Capital) to refund $34.1 million to cardholders.5 In response, the firm created a CareCredit Certification with its providers “in an effort to ensure that every CareCredit card applicant is given a clear, easy-to-understand explanation of financing options available.”1

However, the firm’s “promotional financing options”—the ones with no interest, or a relatively low interest rate—are not available through every provider. Cardholders should check with their provider to determine the available options. 

CareCredit also advises cardholders that “with this type of promo financing, which may be advertised as no interest if paid within 12 months, or however long the agreed-to promotional period lasts, your card issuer will waive the interest you accrue if you pay your balance in full by the end of the promotional period. However, since interest accrues from the date of purchase or balance transfer, if you don’t pay off the balance in full by the end of the promotional period, that accrued interest will be assessed and added to your balance.”6

Alternatives to CareCredit

If CareCredit doesn’t sound appealing, there are alternatives to help pay for healthcare. Check to see if your provider privately offers some sort of pay-over-time arrangement. Many large practices and facilities have repayment plans that don’t charge interest or fees as long as you pay regularly.

If it’s available through your health insurance plan, consider establishing a Health Savings Account (HSA): You contribute money on a pretax basis—usually taken out of your paycheck—and your money grows tax-free until you use it for qualified healthcare expenses.7 If you’re on your employer’s group insurance plan, there’s a similar tax-advantaged account, the flexible spending account (FSA), but you generally have to use up all the funds within the year you contribute them.

Because CareCredit functions somewhat like a loan, with a set repayment period, you might consider just taking out a personal loan from a bank or credit union instead. You’ll pay interest along the way, but it’s likely to be at a lower rate than the interest charged by CareCredit if you don’t settle your entire debt by the period’s end.

Finally, consider using a regular credit card as an alternative to CareCredit. If you see a card offering a 0% APR promotion, consider applying for it to use in payment of your medical bills. The minimum payments may well be lower. These promo periods often extend for 18 or 24 months, which are as long as CareCredit’s. And even if you haven’t paid in full by the time the promo ends, you’ll probably incur a lower interest rate—and just on the remaining balance, too.

What Credit Score is Needed for CareCredit?

Synchrony doesn’t specify what credit score is needed to qualify for CareCredit, and they don’t tell customers which credit bureau they use to get their credit reports. Cards that work in a similar way, such as proprietary store credit cards, generally have low requirements when it comes to credit scores. This may make it easier for people with limited or poor credit history to be approved for a CareCredit card.

 

How Does CareCredit Work?

The CareCredit® credit card* is a healthcare credit card designed to provide special financing options for health expenses. A cardholder can use a CareCredit card to pay for medical services like emergency care, pharmacy costs, surgery, labs, primary care, pet care, and more. CareCredit is often used for out-of-pocket costs that health insurance doesn’t cover, including copayments or deductibles—enabling consumers to defer payments on pricey uninsured health costs.

CareCredit is issued by Synchrony Bank. Its website states that CareCredit is accepted by over 250,000 enrolled providers in the U.S.. The special financing options vary and should be discussed with a care provider before selecting a promotion. Prospective cardholders can see if they prequalify for a CareCredit card by filling out a basic application on the company website.

How to Apply for CareCredit

There are no membership requirements to apply for CareCredit. U.S. residents 18 and over may apply online. Those applying by phone must be 21 or over. The issuer offers a simple application that lets applicants know whether they prequalify for a credit card, all without impacting credit scores. Like most credit card applications, this one requires basic information like name, date of birth, social security number and net income.

Prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval. If an applicant prequalifies, he or she can fill out a longer application requiring a hard credit check. New cardholders can select the promotion offered after being approved for the credit card.

CareCredit’s Special Financing Options

CareCredit’s main draws are the special financing options offered to cardholders. Short-term promotional periods offer zero interest while long-term promotions offer lower APRs than the standard 26.99% —an APR higher than that of even the top-rated rewards-earning credit cards. The entire balance must be paid off during the promotional period to avoid accruing higher interest. Cardholders are not required to select a promotional offer when applying (it can be selected after approval and before paying for a large medical expense). Not all providers offer the same promotional options, so it’s important to check with a healthcare provider before applying.

Short-Term Financing Options

CareCredit offers 6, 12, 18 or 24-month financing with no interest on purchases of $200 or more. Assuming the cardholder makes one large purchase for a medical expense, the balance should be paid off by the end of the promotional period to avoid interest. If the balance is not paid in full, you will be responsible for the deferred interest.

Cardholders should check with their providers and read all of the card’s terms before selecting a promotional period. Beware of low promotional APRs that, upon expiration, require a cardholder to pay high interest that has been deferred from the purchase date—not the end of the promotional period like with many standard 0% introductory APR credit cards.

Long-Term Financing Options

CareCredit’s long-term options offer lower interest rates than the high, standard purchase APR. There are 24, 36, 48, or 60-month promotional periods with varying reduced APRs and fixed monthly payments.

Purchases of $1,000 or more are eligible for:

· 24 months—14.90% APR

· 36 months—15.90% APR

· 48 months—16.90% APR

Purchases of $2,500 or more eligible for:

· 60 months—17.90% APR

CareCredit’s long-term plans have fixed monthly payments allowing the cardholder to pay off the entire balance by the end of the period. Beware that these APRs are considered high and that many standard credit cards offer lower APRs. While we understand not everyone has the privilege of choice when it comes to financing options, we highly recommend exploring every available option—especially non-credit-card lines of credit—before signing up to risk paying high APRs like these. If you aren’t yet familiar with APR or need a refresher, check out our guide to APR and our advice about what a good APR is.

How to Avoid Paying Higher Interest

CareCredit can seem like a convenient option for medical expenses, but be aware that CareCredit’s minimum monthly payments calculated for short-term promotional periods may not result in paying off the entire balance by the end of the period. Instead, apply for and use CareCredit. You should calculate their own equal minimum monthly payment by dividing the total balance by the number of months allotted for the promotional period. Only paying the minimum payments as indicated by CareCredit will mean a remaining balance by the end of the period that may eventually mean paying hefty interest.

CareCredit Limits

Your credit history determines the credit limit on your CareCredit card. The minimum purchase on these cards is $200, and the maximum credit limit for those with a good credit score is $25,000.4

High credit limits, combined with the ease with which CareCredit cards can be obtained, can be a good way for people with a poor credit history to pay for medical bills. Be warned, though, that CareCredit cards can be expensive if you aren’t able to make your repayments on time.

$25,000

CareCredit has a credit limit maximum of $25,000.

Risks of CareCredit

Though their marketing pitches focus on providing access to affordable healthcare, it is important for consumers to keep in mind that CareCredit—and other similar healthcare credit card companies—are in business to make a profit. They offer no-interest financing, counting on many consumers overextending themselves and being unable to pay their bills in full, thus incurring expensive financing charges. They may also count on consumers misunderstanding the terms.

Branded medical credit cards are essentially an unsecured line of credit offered by some healthcare providers. The card isn’t part of the Visa and Mastercard payment network, so it can’t be used for everyday purchases. It’s often a way for doctors to allow patients to finance elective procedures that are not covered by insurance, like cosmetic surgery. Akin to private label retail store credit cards, these products generally have limited usage options and higher long-term interest rates compared with general use credit cards.

There are also some worrying signs that CareCredit may not be acting in good faith. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), CareCredit has “misled some consumers during the enrollment process by not providing adequate guidance clearly laying out the terms of the deferred-interest loans.”5 Such loans assess interest starting from the date of purchase throughout the promotional period; if cardholders fail to pay the debt in full by the end of that period, they must pay all the accrued interest (not just interest on the remaining balance).

In 2013, CFPB ordered CareCredit (at that time, CareCredit was a subsidiary of GE Capital) to refund $34.1 million to cardholders.5 In response, the firm created a CareCredit Certification with its providers “in an effort to ensure that every CareCredit card applicant is given a clear, easy-to-understand explanation of financing options available.”1

However, the firm’s “promotional financing options”—the ones with no interest, or a relatively low interest rate—are not available through every provider. Cardholders should check with their provider to determine the available options. 

CareCredit also advises cardholders that “with this type of promo financing, which may be advertised as no interest if paid within 12 months, or however long the agreed-to promotional period lasts, your card issuer will waive the interest you accrue if you pay your balance in full by the end of the promotional period. However, since interest accrues from the date of purchase or balance transfer, if you don’t pay off the balance in full by the end of the promotional period, that accrued interest will be assessed and added to your balance.”6

Alternatives to CareCredit

If CareCredit doesn’t sound appealing, there are alternatives to help pay for healthcare. Check to see if your provider privately offers some sort of pay-over-time arrangement. Many large practices and facilities have repayment plans that don’t charge interest or fees as long as you pay regularly.

If it’s available through your health insurance plan, consider establishing a Health Savings Account (HSA): You contribute money on a pretax basis—usually taken out of your paycheck—and your money grows tax-free until you use it for qualified healthcare expenses.7 If you’re on your employer’s group insurance plan, there’s a similar tax-advantaged account, the flexible spending account (FSA), but you generally have to use up all the funds within the year you contribute them.

Because CareCredit functions somewhat like a loan, with a set repayment period, you might consider just taking out a personal loan from a bank or credit union instead. You’ll pay interest along the way, but it’s likely to be at a lower rate than the interest charged by CareCredit if you don’t settle your entire debt by the period’s end.

Finally, consider using a regular credit card as an alternative to CareCredit. If you see a card offering a 0% APR promotion, consider applying for it to use in payment of your medical bills. The minimum payments may well be lower. These promo periods often extend for 18 or 24 months, which are as long as CareCredit’s. And even if you haven’t paid in full by the time the promo ends, you’ll probably incur a lower interest rate—and just on the remaining balance, too.

What Credit Score is Needed for CareCredit?

Synchrony doesn’t specify what credit score is needed to qualify for CareCredit, and they don’t tell customers which credit bureau they use to get their credit reports. Cards that work in a similar way, such as proprietary store credit cards, generally have low requirements when it comes to credit scores. This may make it easier for people with limited or poor credit history to be approved for a CareCredit card.

 

How Does CareCredit Work?

The CareCredit® credit card* is a healthcare credit card designed to provide special financing options for health expenses. A cardholder can use a CareCredit card to pay for medical services like emergency care, pharmacy costs, surgery, labs, primary care, pet care, and more. CareCredit is often used for out-of-pocket costs that health insurance doesn’t cover, including copayments or deductibles—enabling consumers to defer payments on pricey uninsured health costs.

CareCredit is issued by Synchrony Bank. Its website states that CareCredit is accepted by over 250,000 enrolled providers in the U.S.. The special financing options vary and should be discussed with a care provider before selecting a promotion. Prospective cardholders can see if they prequalify for a CareCredit card by filling out a basic application on the company website.

How to Apply for CareCredit

There are no membership requirements to apply for CareCredit. U.S. residents 18 and over may apply online. Those applying by phone must be 21 or over. The issuer offers a simple application that lets applicants know whether they prequalify for a credit card, all without impacting credit scores. Like most credit card applications, this one requires basic information like name, date of birth, social security number and net income.

Prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval. If an applicant prequalifies, he or she can fill out a longer application requiring a hard credit check. New cardholders can select the promotion offered after being approved for the credit card.

CareCredit’s Special Financing Options

CareCredit’s main draws are the special financing options offered to cardholders. Short-term promotional periods offer zero interest while long-term promotions offer lower APRs than the standard 26.99% —an APR higher than that of even the top-rated rewards-earning credit cards. The entire balance must be paid off during the promotional period to avoid accruing higher interest. Cardholders are not required to select a promotional offer when applying (it can be selected after approval and before paying for a large medical expense). Not all providers offer the same promotional options, so it’s important to check with a healthcare provider before applying.

Short-Term Financing Options

CareCredit offers 6, 12, 18 or 24-month financing with no interest on purchases of $200 or more. Assuming the cardholder makes one large purchase for a medical expense, the balance should be paid off by the end of the promotional period to avoid interest. If the balance is not paid in full, you will be responsible for the deferred interest.

Cardholders should check with their providers and read all of the card’s terms before selecting a promotional period. Beware of low promotional APRs that, upon expiration, require a cardholder to pay high interest that has been deferred from the purchase date—not the end of the promotional period like with many standard 0% introductory APR credit cards.

Long-Term Financing Options

CareCredit’s long-term options offer lower interest rates than the high, standard purchase APR. There are 24, 36, 48, or 60-month promotional periods with varying reduced APRs and fixed monthly payments.

Purchases of $1,000 or more are eligible for:

· 24 months—14.90% APR

· 36 months—15.90% APR

· 48 months—16.90% APR

Purchases of $2,500 or more eligible for:

· 60 months—17.90% APR

CareCredit’s long-term plans have fixed monthly payments allowing the cardholder to pay off the entire balance by the end of the period. Beware that these APRs are considered high and that many standard credit cards offer lower APRs. While we understand not everyone has the privilege of choice when it comes to financing options, we highly recommend exploring every available option—especially non-credit-card lines of credit—before signing up to risk paying high APRs like these. If you aren’t yet familiar with APR or need a refresher, check out our guide to APR and our advice about what a good APR is.

How to Avoid Paying Higher Interest

CareCredit can seem like a convenient option for medical expenses, but be aware that CareCredit’s minimum monthly payments calculated for short-term promotional periods may not result in paying off the entire balance by the end of the period. Instead, apply for and use CareCredit. You should calculate their own equal minimum monthly payment by dividing the total balance by the number of months allotted for the promotional period. Only paying the minimum payments as indicated by CareCredit will mean a remaining balance by the end of the period that may eventually mean paying hefty interest.

CareCredit Limits

Your credit history determines the credit limit on your CareCredit card. The minimum purchase on these cards is $200, and the maximum credit limit for those with a good credit score is $25,000.4

High credit limits, combined with the ease with which CareCredit cards can be obtained, can be a good way for people with a poor credit history to pay for medical bills. Be warned, though, that CareCredit cards can be expensive if you aren’t able to make your repayments on time.

$25,000

CareCredit has a credit limit maximum of $25,000.

Risks of CareCredit

Though their marketing pitches focus on providing access to affordable healthcare, it is important for consumers to keep in mind that CareCredit—and other similar healthcare credit card companies—are in business to make a profit. They offer no-interest financing, counting on many consumers overextending themselves and being unable to pay their bills in full, thus incurring expensive financing charges. They may also count on consumers misunderstanding the terms.

Branded medical credit cards are essentially an unsecured line of credit offered by some healthcare providers. The card isn’t part of the Visa and Mastercard payment network, so it can’t be used for everyday purchases. It’s often a way for doctors to allow patients to finance elective procedures that are not covered by insurance, like cosmetic surgery. Akin to private label retail store credit cards, these products generally have limited usage options and higher long-term interest rates compared with general use credit cards.

There are also some worrying signs that CareCredit may not be acting in good faith. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), CareCredit has “misled some consumers during the enrollment process by not providing adequate guidance clearly laying out the terms of the deferred-interest loans.”5 Such loans assess interest starting from the date of purchase throughout the promotional period; if cardholders fail to pay the debt in full by the end of that period, they must pay all the accrued interest (not just interest on the remaining balance).

In 2013, CFPB ordered CareCredit (at that time, CareCredit was a subsidiary of GE Capital) to refund $34.1 million to cardholders.5 In response, the firm created a CareCredit Certification with its providers “in an effort to ensure that every CareCredit card applicant is given a clear, easy-to-understand explanation of financing options available.”1

However, the firm’s “promotional financing options”—the ones with no interest, or a relatively low interest rate—are not available through every provider. Cardholders should check with their provider to determine the available options. 

CareCredit also advises cardholders that “with this type of promo financing, which may be advertised as no interest if paid within 12 months, or however long the agreed-to promotional period lasts, your card issuer will waive the interest you accrue if you pay your balance in full by the end of the promotional period. However, since interest accrues from the date of purchase or balance transfer, if you don’t pay off the balance in full by the end of the promotional period, that accrued interest will be assessed and added to your balance.”6

Alternatives to CareCredit

If CareCredit doesn’t sound appealing, there are alternatives to help pay for healthcare. Check to see if your provider privately offers some sort of pay-over-time arrangement. Many large practices and facilities have repayment plans that don’t charge interest or fees as long as you pay regularly.

If it’s available through your health insurance plan, consider establishing a Health Savings Account (HSA): You contribute money on a pretax basis—usually taken out of your paycheck—and your money grows tax-free until you use it for qualified healthcare expenses.7 If you’re on your employer’s group insurance plan, there’s a similar tax-advantaged account, the flexible spending account (FSA), but you generally have to use up all the funds within the year you contribute them.

Because CareCredit functions somewhat like a loan, with a set repayment period, you might consider just taking out a personal loan from a bank or credit union instead. You’ll pay interest along the way, but it’s likely to be at a lower rate than the interest charged by CareCredit if you don’t settle your entire debt by the period’s end.

Finally, consider using a regular credit card as an alternative to CareCredit. If you see a card offering a 0% APR promotion, consider applying for it to use in payment of your medical bills. The minimum payments may well be lower. These promo periods often extend for 18 or 24 months, which are as long as CareCredit’s. And even if you haven’t paid in full by the time the promo ends, you’ll probably incur a lower interest rate—and just on the remaining balance, too.

What Credit Score is Needed for CareCredit?

Synchrony doesn’t specify what credit score is needed to qualify for CareCredit, and they don’t tell customers which credit bureau they use to get their credit reports. Cards that work in a similar way, such as proprietary store credit cards, generally have low requirements when it comes to credit scores. This may make it easier for people with limited or poor credit history to be approved for a CareCredit card.

 

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