CareCredit is a credit card with low interest available only for medical expenses that is accepted just about everywhere. It may be the financial solution you are looking for.
- Most people with a credit score of 640 or better will qualify for a CareCredit credit card.
- Most veterinarians take CareCredit, because it helps them provide services without having to set up internal financing systems for their clients.
- CareCredit can be used for health services, including veterinary health services, but not for purchases made at retail stores.
- How much CareCredit approves, and your minimum monthly payment, will depend upon your unique circumstances.
CareCredit for Dogs Can Help with Veterinary Expenses
CareCredit® is a credit card with low interest, intended for medical expenses. Many veterinarians accept CareCredit at their hospitals and may even have their applications on hand at the front desk for you to pick up. Considering the high cost of most cancer treatments, it may be worth considering.
Many veterinarians consider CareCredit an alternative to an internal payment plan. Managing client payments is labor intensive, and many veterinary medical offices don’t have the time or setup to check a client’s credit, send bills, or otherwise manage an invoice system.
What CareCredit Covers
The CareCredit card is managed through Synchrony Bank. The card can be used to pay for various medical services, including veterinary, dental, vision, cosmetic, and other similar categories.
For veterinary care, you can use the CareCredit card for multiple animals, routine or emergency care, and even grooming in some situations.
Dr. Lauren Barrow has hard-won and compassionate advice if you can’t afford expensive treatments for your dog’s cancer in this episode of DOG CANCER ANSWERS.
CareCredit May Help Even If You Have Pet Insurance
Even if you have a pet insurance plan for your dog – recommended in most situations – the CareCredit card is still very helpful. This is because a standard operating procedure for veterinary offices is to require payment at the time of treatment or discharge from the hospital.
If you don’t have money in the bank to cover those expenses and take your dog home, the CareCredit card can cover these bills until the insurance company can reimburse you.
How to Get Approved for CareCredit
Although CareCredit is easier to qualify for than a lot of credit cards, acceptance is still dependent on your credit history, income, and the amount you wish to finance. If your credit score is 640 or better, you will likely qualify for CareCredit.1
You can apply for the CareCredit card in person in the veterinary office when you drop off or pick up your dog. However, if you are able to pre-qualify before you get to the office, it will save you a lot of time and anxiety. You can do this online or by phone at 1-800-677-0718.
You must be at least 18 years old to apply online and at least 21 years old to apply by phone. Be sure to have the necessary information with you:
- Your full legal name
- Date of birth
- Social Security Number
- Net income
- Housing information
Using a Cosigner for CareCredit for Vet Bills
If you are borderline with the qualifications – such as your income or credit score – you can add a cosigner to help you qualify.
Your cosigner will also get a card and access to your account, so choose your cosigner wisely!
How CareCredit Affects Your Credit Score
Prequalifying for the CareCredit card does not negatively affect your credit score.
Veterinary oncologist Megan Duffy explains the behind the scene costs of dog cancer in this important DOG CANCER ANSWERS episode.
General Terms on CareCredit for Dogs
The terms offered on a CareCredit card vary widely and are based on factors like your credit history, income, and how much you want to borrow.
You can generally break the CareCredit terms into short- or long-term financing options.
Shorter-term financing options:
- 6, 12, 18, or 24 months, which is called the “promotional period”
- Zero interest rate – also called APR – on $200 or more
- You MUST make the minimum monthly payment
- You MUST pay off the full amount by the end of the promotional period
- VERY IMPORTANT: If you don’t pay off the full amount by the end of the promotional period, interest goes up to the regular interest rate (which is very high) starting from the original purchase date.
- This means that all the interest you were not charged over the promotional period will be immediately added to your bill, and then accumulate interest over time, as well.
- Make sure you pay off your bill before the promotional period ends, to avoid all that extra interest and expense!
Longer-term financing options:
- 24, 36, 48, or 60 months, which is called the “promotional period”
- Reduced (but NOT zero) interest rate – also called APR
- Fixed monthly payments until paid in full
- $1000 and more eligible for 24 months at 14.9%, 36 months at 15.9%, or 48 months at 16.9%
- $2500 or more eligible for 60 months at 17.9%
What do all these numbers mean? The more money you need to borrow, and the longer you get to keep it (“promotional period”), the more money it costs you in interest.
CareCredit Best Practices
CareCredit is a wonderful tool because you can get “free money” up front to pay for necessary expenses and then pay it off over time. However, if you do not use this tool well, it can be harmful. Here are some essential best practices:
- Finance the smallest amount of money you need.
- Pay it off as soon as you can.
- Make payments on time every month, as agreed. Being late even once can end your promotional period.
- Watch your dates for the end of promotional periods, and don’t be late.
- Read the terms closely, as they may vary based on your situation.
- DO NOT FORGET: if you don’t pay the balance off by the end of the promotional period, the interest is added from the date of purchase, not the date you start paying interest.
Here are a few other tips to help you keep organized with your CareCredit card:
- Set up auto-pay so you can’t forget to make payments.
- Use the mobile app to help keep track of and make payments and set reminders.
- If you can’t remember the date your card must be paid, log into your account on the website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the questions we often hear at the veterinary office, with their answers.
Does my veterinarian take CareCredit? What about the oncologist?
Both of them probably do! Just ask them, or you can use the search box on the CareCredit website.
Can I use the CareCredit card more than once?
Yes, you can use your CareCredit card until you hit your credit limit. The card can be used at different locations as well.
If I use my CareCredit card multiple times, how does that affect my payment terms?
A lot depends on the circumstances of how you use it and pay it off. It is helpful to know that each “purchase” is counted separately, with different pay-off-by dates. Look on the website under your account to find those specific dates for each purchase.
What’s my credit limit? How much can I finance?
This varies widely and depends on your credit history and income. If you can, get a bigger credit limit, but finance as little as you actually need.
What if I want a bigger limit?
Give CareCredit a call to discuss, and they might be able to approve that. The number is on their website.
What is the maximum credit limit possible?
Multiple sources claim the maximum possible is $25,000, though this is highly dependent on your credit history.
What if I can’t pre-qualify or get denied for a CareCredit card?
Your best and most immediate solution is to find a cosigner or someone else who can add in their income and good credit history to get both of you approved.
Can I pay part of my veterinary bill with another card or cash?
Yes, always finance as little as you can. If you can use your own funds, pet insurance, or some other funding source that isn’t credit-based, that will help you out a lot in the long run. Pay with your own funds first, and only use CareCredit when you need to.
Helpful Resources for CareCredit for Dogs
Payment calculator on CareCredit website
FAQ on CareCredit website
Financial glossary on CareCredit website, to learn credit-related terms you aren’t familiar with
For GOOD credit advice in general
- Larch B. What credit score do you need for the carecredit card? WalletHub. https://wallethub.com/answers/cc/credit-score-for-carecredit-card-2140781709/. Published February 15, 2022. Accessed March 7, 2023.
- Healthcare financing and medical credit card – carecredit (no date) CareCredit Home. Available at: https://www.carecredit.com/ (Accessed: January 13, 2023).
- Landes, C. (2022) How to use credit cards wisely: 11 rules to live by, FinMasters. Available at: https://finmasters.com/how-to-use-credit-cards-wisely/ (Accessed: January 13, 2023).
CareCredit® is a registered trademark owned by Synchrony Bank.
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