CareCredit for Pets: How Does It Work?

CareCredit is a healthcare credit card designed to assist families and individuals pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses that may not be fully covered or covered at all by their primary insurance. This specialized card can help you pay for cosmetic procedures, dental care, health and wellness programs, and, yes, even healthcare for your pet.

And there are a lot of pets in America. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association's 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households are home to at least one pet—possibly more.

Often pet owners look upon their animals as four-legged family members and like health and dental care for families, veterinary medicine is usually expensive. The cost of veterinary services, even just annual checkups, can add up and if a pet owner has a sick animal, the price tag gets higher.

When it comes to finding affordable pet healthcare, there are four options: buy pet insurance, pay out-of-pocket costs for services, open an account with a credit card used solely for healthcare, like CareCredit, or combine a few of these options.

Key Takeaways

  • You do not need an additional CareCredit card to pay for pet medical care. One card can be used for all approved services at more than 225,000 providers.
  • Options to pay the card off are six-, 12-, 18-, or 24-month financing with no interest charges if paid in full within the promotional period (as of October 2021) and if a $200 minimum in purchases has been made.
  • CareCredit and pet insurance together may save you money over time.
  • CareCredit cards can only be used for health services. You cannot purchase items for pets like toys or flea collars using the card in stores. 
  • You can apply for a CareCredit card online.

What Is CareCredit?

CareCredit is a healthcare credit card that has become well known by the general public and is also widely accepted by various types of healthcare practitioners. The CareCredit credit card is most helpful primarily for those with minimal health insurance or for those who must pay the up-front costs of expensive health, beauty, or wellness procedures and treatments that are potentially not covered by insurance.

CareCredit also provides an option for veterinary medicine, which comes in handy for pet parents who may be unable to provide the up-front costs of care. When it comes to veterinary medicine, while it is technically a practice of medicine, pet parents are often aware that health insurance for pets can be costly depending on the pet and the policy.

According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, as of 2020 (the most recent figure as of 2021), there are 20 pet insurance companies in North America.

If a pet owner cannot afford insurance, it can be unfortunate from a financial angle, especially when considering the expense of caring for a pet. With just typical routine exams, vaccinations, teeth cleanings, and even common medications such as deworming pills all costing hundreds of dollars, it makes sense for pet parents to need assistance when it comes to paying these extensive bills.

Understanding CareCredit

CareCredit is a healthcare credit card that you can use for yourself, your family members, or your pet's healthcare. The CareCredit card can be used at more than 225,000 providers listed on its website. It is a credit card, however, so you will owe whatever you spend on it. The options offered as of 2021 are six-, 12-, 18-, or 24-month financing with no interest charges if you pay off your balance in full by the end of the promotional period offered by CareCredit. However, if you are unable to pay it off in full, you will get hit with interest charges from the original purchase date, according to its website.

The card is issued by Synchrony Bank, which is one of the largest private label credit cards in the U.S. and, like all credit cards, it charges fees and interest on purchases.

Unlike traditional credit cards, CareCredit extends longer-term healthcare financing for 24-, 36-, 48-, or 60-month periods with reduced APR and fixed monthly payments. According to its website, "Purchases of $1,000 or more may be eligible for a 24 months offer with a 14.90% APR, a 36 months offer with a 15.90% APR or a 48 months offer with a 16.90% APR. Purchases of $2,500 or more may be eligible for a 60 months offer with a 17.90% APR."

Why Use CareCredit?

With CareCredit, instead of having to show up at the vet with a wad of cash or a check, pet parents can use their CareCredit credit card to pay for all or a portion of their pet's veterinary needs and then pay off their credit card bill in a similar fashion when compared to a typical credit card. If you can't afford to pay your vet bills upfront, CareCredit allows you time to pay off your balance while your pet still gets the care it needs for its health.

Check the company's website for the list of accredited health providers that accept CareCredit. If your vet isn't on the list, make sure they accept CareCredit for veterinary services for payment

How Does CareCredit Work?

The biggest perk of using a CareCredit card at the vet instead of swiping a regular credit card is that depending on the time it takes to pay off the purchase amount, the cardholder may never have to pay interest.

For example, if the medical purchase amount is $5,000, the credit card user is not charged any interest if the total amount is paid off within the designated promotional period. For a 12-month term, the estimated monthly payment is $417, and for an 18-month term, it is $278.

However, suppose the cardholder requires a payoff period lasting longer than 18 months. In that case, CareCredit then attaches a 14.90% annual percentage rate (APR) to the monthly payment after the 18th month until the balance is paid in full. To qualify for a payoff term more significant than 18 months but only up to 48 months, the purchase amount must be greater than $1,000. The purchase amount must be greater than $2,500 to qualify for a 60-month payoff limit, for which the APR is 14.90, as well. This policy was in effect as per the website in October 2021.

To make the decision easier for pet parents looking to apply for the CareCredit card, the company offers a calculator on its website, giving a better idea of the monthly payments depending on the total amount of the care purchase.

CareCredit offers an online calculator to help you figure out your payment costs.

CareCredit for pets FAQs

What Credit Score Do You Need For CareCredit?

CareCredit does not list the minimum credit score on its website but according to third-party sources, you need a score of at least 620 to be approved.

What Pet Stores Accept CareCredit?

CareCredit cannot be used in pet stores. It is strictly for routine and emergency veterinarian care. According to CareCredit's website, you may be able to use it to pay for pet food, nutrition, and microchipping.

Do Pet Pharmacies Accept CareCredit?

CareCredit covers medication for pets, so yes, some pet pharmacies utilized by your vet may accept CareCredit.

What Is Pets Best Pet Health Insurance?

Pets Best is a health insurance policy for your pets offered by CareCredit. Pets Best insurance covers major surgeries, cancer treatments, tests, and accidents. However, you have to pay out-of-pocket (using your CareCredit card) and then get reimbursed by Pets Best for the procedures and medications covered in your policy.

The Bottom Line

A CareCredit card is one way to pay for your pet's healthcare without spending cash upfront. Pet insurance combined with CareCredit may go a long way to affording all those vet payments while managing your money. If you are good at managing your debt and credit, a CareCredit card may be useful.

If you struggle with making payments on your credit cards and loans, you may want to find a different way to pay for veterinarian costs. CareCredit is a credit card, even if its terms are slightly other than traditional credit cards, and if you miss a payment, interest and fees will add up. In addition, not paying off your credit cards will impact your credit score and history.

Article Sources
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