Medical credit cards are cards that can be used to pay for medical expenses such as chiropractor visits, dental work, and surgeries. Many Americans are turning to this form of credit to help pay for high medical expenses that are not covered by insurance or are too high to pay all at once. Medical credit cards are a good choice if they allow you to get medical treatment that can be paid off quickly.
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The best medical credit cards generally offer low or zero interest credit card rates for a set period of time. This allows repayment to be made at an almost same-as-cash level. However, medical credit cards are only right for you if you use them sensibly.
What are the advantages?
According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), there are some significant advantages to medical credit cards. They can:
- Help to make medical care easier to obtain. High costs for elective surgeries, dental care, or chiropractor services may keep many from getting procedures that would increase their quality of living.
- Medical credit cards allow patients to pay for medical services that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
- Make high medical costs more affordable. Expenses are divided up rather than made in one lump sum. This allows many consumers to remain financially sound despite high medical bills. Low interest rates for medical credit cards keep overall costs down as well.
- Improve record keeping by having all paid medical expenses in one place.
What are the disadvantages?
Medical credit cards have all of the demons associated with regular credit cards, according to an article at The New York Times. Common disadvantages include credit card interest rates that rise after an introductory period or a missed payment. While the rates start out low, they will more than likely rise just like interest rates for regular credit cards.
Credit scores are lowered by negative information on a medical credit card, just like with regular credit cards. Miss a payment or carry a high balance on the card and your credit score will take a hit.
Overspending on unnecessary expenses because the payment is not immediate. People fall into the same trap of spending more than necessary, just like with regular credit cards. Because it all goes on a credit card where payment is deferred, many people spend more than they would if they were paying with cash.
Are medical credit cards a good choice?
Medical credit cards can be beneficial if they are used with care and paid off as soon as possible. When used for medical procedures that are truly necessary but have a high cost, medical credit cards allow patients to get treatment for issues that may otherwise be suffered through. Dental work and chiropractic services are common areas where medical credit cards may allow for the alleviation of pain and suffering.
Medical credit cards are best used for necessary medical or dental treatment. Optional treatment such as cosmetic surgery or tooth whitening should be saved for cash. They should also only be used if you will be able to pay the amount back within the introductory period; otherwise, you may be paying a significantly higher amount of money for your procedure than if you paid in cash.
Lastly, as with all credit card payments, don’t miss a credit card payment! You can incur fees and high interest rates that will increase your debt and lower your credit score if you miss a payment.
Are medical credit cards a bad decision?
Medical credit cards will only make shaky financial situations worse if you are unable to make the monthly payments or the interest is high. If you truly cannot meet the financial obligations of a credit card, medical or otherwise, then you should not get one.
Look into other options such as creating a payment plan with your health care provider, borrowing the money from another source or checking out state-funded health care plans; anything else is more desirable than getting into debt that you cannot repay.
Furthermore, medical credit cards should not be used for elective surgeries such as cosmetic surgery, unnecessary dental work, or gratuitous medical therapies such as massages or acupuncture.
Where can I find medical credit cards?
Many health providers partner with a medical credit card provider to offer the option to patients. There is an approval process just as with all credit cards, and not everyone will qualify.
Researching and comparing different medical credit cards’ interest rates and fees is a good idea so you can choose the best credit card for your medical needs. Understanding the fine print behind the introductory rates and grace periods is the best way to get the most out of your credit cards.
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