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. According to the American Pet Products Association's 2019-2020 National Pet Owners Survey, 67 percents of U.S. households are home to at least one pet—possibly more. The cost of veterinary services, even just annual check-ups, can add up, and if a pet owner has a sick animal, the higher the price tag.

When it comes to finding affordable pet health care, there are really three options: buy pet insurance, pay out-of-pocket costs for services, or open an account with a credit card used solely for health care, like CareCredit.

What is CareCredit?

CareCredit is a health care credit card that has become well known by the general public and is also widely accepted by various types of health care 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 health, beauty, or wellness procedures and treatments that are expensive and/or potentially not covered by insurance.

Key Takeaways

  • You do not need an additional CreditCare card to pay for pet medical care. One card can be used for all approved services at over 175,000 providers.
  • Options to pay the card off are 6, 12, 18, or 24 months financing with no interest charges if paid in full within the promotional period (as of July 2019) and if a $200 minimum in purchases has been made.
  • CreditCare may be an affordable alternative to pet care insurance.
  • CreditCare cards can only be used for health services but you cannot purchase items for pets like food or flea collars using the card in stores. 

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 2019, there are 12 major insurance companies that cater to pet owners.

Check the company's website for the list of accredited health providers that accept CreditCare. If your vet isn't on the list make sure to ask him or her if they accept CreditCare for veterinary services.

If a pet owner can not afford insurance, it can be unfortunate from a financial angle. Especially, when considering the expense for 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.

What Is the Incentive to Using CareCredit?

With CareCredit, instead of having to show up to the vet with a wad of cash or a fat 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.

How Does CareCredit Work?

The biggest perk of using a CareCredit card at the vet instead of swiping a regular credit card is the fact 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 full 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, if the cardholder requires a payoff period lasting longer than 18 months, 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.

This policy is in effect as of July 2019. To qualify for a payoff term greater 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.

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 as to what the monthly payments will be depending on the full amount of the care purchase.