Receiving medical bills after undergoing procedures can feel overwhelming, especially if insurance won’t cover the expenses. Using a medical credit card, however, can help make the payments more manageable.
Medical credit cards work a bit like store cards, as you can only use them for certain products and services. While many advertise an “interest-free” period upfront, note that if you can’t pay the entire balance before the 0% APR promotional period ends, you’ll pay high interest accrued from the day you made the purchase.
We compared all available medical and standard credit cards and we considered features such as length of the interest-free period and the scope of the card’s acceptance. We selected the cards that offered the longest 0% interest period and were accepted for most medical treatments and services.
What’s changed in 2021?
The Citi Simplicity® Card took over the spot as a best for balance transfers due to its incredibly long intro APR period. All other cards remain the same in their categories.
With the September 2020 update, Chase Freedom Flex℠ now earns unlimited 5% cash back at drugstores. In addition to its long 0% intro APR period on purchases, the Freedom Flex is now one of the best medical credit cards that deserves a spot on our list.
Earn a consistent and unlimited 5% back at drugstores with the Chase Freedom Flex℠. You can also use the card to pay for your medical bill without interest for more than a year. As a bonus, you get to earn a high cashback rate on a variety of categories, including travel, dining and more.
Cash back. Earn 5% cash back at drugstores and restaurants, including takeout and delivery. Earn 5% back on travel purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards, 5% back on Lyft rides through March 2022 and 5% back on up to $1,500 each quarter on rotating categories. After that and on all other purchases, earn 1% cash back.
Signup bonus. Earn a $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 in the first 3 months. You can also earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year.
Intro APR period. Get 15 months of 0% intro APR period on purchases. A variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74% applies thereafter. This can help you pay off your medical bill without interest for as long as the intro period lasts.
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
Balance transfer APR
14.99% to 23.74% variable
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months, plus 5% cash back at grocery stores (not including Target® or Walmart®) on up to $12,000 in the first year
With CareCredit® credit card you can make interest-free payments on purchases over $200 using special financing between 6 and 24 months, and payments with low interest for up to 60 months. Use CareCredit® credit card to pay for LASIK and vision care procedures, cosmetic and dermatology procedures, dentistry, veterinary and more. Simply make sure to pay off your balance before the promotional period ends or you'll pay interest from the date of purchase.
A variety of supported procedures. With CareCredit® credit card, you can pay for a variety of medical procedures at more than 200,000 providers — the largest variety compared to similar cards. Plus, you can buy health, personal care and wellness items at Walmart and Sam's Club.
Multiple financing options. You can get special financing with an interest-free period between 6 and 24 months, or a period with low APR in up to 60 months.
No annual fee. You won't pay any fee to own the CareCredit® credit card card.
Promotional financing for 6 or 12 months ($200+), then 26.99% n/a
Best medical credit card for the longest interest-free period
AccessOne MedCard offers three payment plans based on your balance and your medical and financial needs. But where AccessOne MedCard shines is the length of the interest-free period where you can get interest on your balance for a period between 12 and 100 months. To use the interest-free period you must pay at least the interest-free amount by the due date.
Long interest period. Depending on your situation, you can get an interest-free period that lasts between 12 and 100 months.
Everyone is accepted. You can apply for the card regardless of your credit score. Also, AccessOne MedCard doesn't report your card activity unless you default on your payments and your balance is sent to collections.
Multiple balance payment methods. Pay your AccessOne MedCard balance online or mail in a check or money order to the address on the statement.
The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card can be a solid option to pay for your medical bills due to its long intro APR period on purchases. Sometimes, this could be a better option than a medical card because if you're unable to pay off your full balance during the promotional period, you'll only accrue interest for the remaining balance and not the full balance.
Intro APR period. Make purchases and balance transfers at a 0% intro APR for your first 20 months of card membership. After the intro period expires, your rate reverts to variable 14.49% to 24.49%.
Cell phone protection. Pay your cell phone bill with your card and get coverage for your phone against damage or theft up to $600, with a $25 deductible.
No annual fee. You won't pay an annual fee for the life of the card.
Balance transfer APR
0% intro for the first 20 months (then 14.49% to 24.49% variable)
Another alternative to save money on interest is to transfer your balance to the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card which offers a longer-than-average intro APR period on balance transfers. But once you pay off your balance, there's not much value with this card.
Intro APR period on balance transfers. Get 21 months of 0% intro APR period on balances you transfer within 4 months when you open your account. After that, a variable APR of 13.74% to 23.74% applies to any remaining unpaid balance.
Intro APR period on purchases. You also get 0% intro APR period for 12 months on purchases. Once the intro APR period expires, a variable APR of 13.74% to 23.74% will apply.
No annual fee. The card comes with a $0 annual fee.
No rewards. This card doesn't offer rewards or cash back on purchases.
Balance transfer fees. You'll pay the greater of $5 or 5% on your balance transfers.
Balance transfer APR
0% intro for the first 21 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
If you decide to use a medical credit card instead of a standard credit card for your health and wellness needs, here’s what to keep an eye on:
Length on interest-free period. Make sure the length of the 0% interest period matches your financial situation. If you can’t pay your medical bill before the interest-free period is up, you’re better off with a standard 0% intro APR credit card.
Wide acceptance. Some medical cards are only accepted for select medical services, while neglecting others, such as veterinary services for your pet. Read the card’s terms thoroughly before applying for a medical card to make sure you can use it where you most need it.
How to pay off medical bills
If your medical insurance doesn’t cover your medical bills, consider paying with a credit card. In this case, you have two options:
A medical credit card with deferred interest payments for a promotional period.
A standard credit card with a 0% intro APR period on purchases or balance transfers.
Is a medical credit card worth it?
Medical credit cards can be helpful financial tools when you’re hit with big bills but don’t have the cash to pay it off. Here are the main advantages of using a medical credit card:
Quick access to medical care. Using a medical credit card means you won’t have to gather funds right away to foot the bill for elective or mandatory procedures. Having more time to pay might enable you to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later.
Possible interest-free period. Some of the best medical credit cards offer 0% intro APR promotions — a set period of time during which interest is deferred. Since most regular credit cards accumulate monthly interest, this could be a handy financial grace period so long as you’re able to pay in full before time is up.
Consolidated medical expenses. If you like the idea of keeping all your medical expenses in one place, a medical credit card may be appealing, because you’ll see all the charges on a single statement. This could also be helpful if you’re using part of an HSA to fund your health expenses, as you’ll have a clear record of each specific charge.
Overall peace of mind. Even if you do have extra crash, using it to fund a big medical bill could put a strain on your day-to-day finances. Sometimes, the peace of mind that comes with buying a little extra time can help take the pressure off during the weeks and months that follow intensive medical care.
What to watch out for when using a medical card
Still, medical credit cards aren’t a no-strings-attached solution to hospital debt. Before committing, consider the drawbacks, too:
It could damage your credit score. If your financial health is a bit fragile to begin with — that is, you have large amounts of debt and other credit cards with outstanding bills — opening up a medical credit card could ding your credit score. Folks who are looking to finance a new car or take out a mortgage in the near future may want to carefully consider whether it’s worth the risk.
Variable interest rates can make planning difficult. Most credit card APRs — whether or not they’re branded for medical purposes — have a variable interest rate, which means it could change over time. This might be a roadblock for people on a tight budget, or with limited financial wiggle room.
Deferred interest could cause financial hardship down the line. Even if a medical credit card has an interest-free period upfront, if you haven’t paid the balance by the end of that period you could be faced with a large portion of accumulated interest, on top of the medical bills you already owe.
Most don’t come with perks or rewards. While you could potentially earn miles, points and cash back by paying for medical bills with a regular credit card, medical credit cards don’t usually come with added benefits.
What to know
Even though we are referring to the medical card’s promotional period as an interest-free period, be aware that this is a deferred interest period, meaning you pay zero interest for your purchases only if they’re paid in full before the period expires.
Compare credit cards for medical bills
For a side-by-side look at your medical credit card option, select your credit score below and click on “Show cards” to start comparing.
Choosing the right medical credit card for your needs could save you additional stress. Depending on your card, you can pay off your bill without interest for up to two years or more. Be sure to pay the full balance before the interest-free period expires or you’ll pay interest from the day you made your payment.
As an alternative, consider standard credit cards with a 0% intro APR period, which can help you save money on interest and you can use them everywhere to make purchases.
Frequently asked questions
This depends on the card but, generally you have two options:
Over the phone
At the medical practitioner
Yes. Some medical cards offer approval regardless of your credit score.
Only if you fail to pay your balance and your bill is turned to a collection agency. Otherwise, no.
Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards and investments writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.
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