Best credit cards for medical bills of 2021
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In some cases, using credit cards to pay for medical bills can be an excellent choice. It gives you some extra time to pay off an expense that is often unexpected. If you are approved for a card with a 0% introductory offer, you can have 12, 18 or even 24 months to pay off the bill without worrying about accumulating interest charges. In addition, some cards offer cash back rewards and sign-up bonuses that can help to offset those medical expenses.
Though it could be a great option for some, using credit cards to pay medical expenses might not the best choice for everyone. If you can pay the entire bill up front in cash, some medical facilities will offer some type of "cash discount." Others might be willing to work with you on a zero-interest payment plan. If you can't pay your credit card statement in full by the time its due, or before a 0% intro APR period expires, any rewards you might have earned from paying a medical expense will likely be canceled out by credit card interest charges. Do the research. Ask the questions. And evaluate your options to make the best decision for you.
Why We Like It: This card offers an incentive to pay off your bill in full, but also offers you an introductory period of 18 months of no-interest on balance transfers if you'd rather go that route (after the intro period, regular 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable) APR will apply). Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.
Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus here, but new cardholders are eligible for an introductory 18 months of no interest on balance transfers (then, 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)). That offer could save you a substantial amount of money if you need to consolidate some existing medical bill debt from other credit cards (or other credit card debt in general, for that matter). There is a balance transfer fee to consider of 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. Still, you may stand to save that and more with the 0% intro APR.
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate: Earn 1% back on all your purchases and earn another 1% back when you pay on time at least the minimum balance due each month, bringing your total cash-back opportunity to 2%.
- If you a substantial balance on an existing credit card due to medical expenses, you can transfer the balance to your card and take advantage of introductory 0% interest for 18 months (then, 13.99% – 23.99% (Variable)).
- There is no annual fee.
- You can earn up to unlimited 2% cash back on purchases. That's a good rate for a card with no annual fee.
- There's not a traditional welcome bonus with this card, so you can't look forward to a big chunk of cash back or a statement credit soon after opening an account.
- The intro 0% APR offer is only for balance transfers, and not for new purchases, too.
Read our full Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer review.
Why We Like It: Medical bills aren't fun to pay, but earning 1.5% cash back on that payment will help ease the pain. Plus, 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases will help give you some extra time to pay off any outstanding bills. (After the intro period, regular 14.99% - 23.74% Variable APR will apply).
Bonus: Earn $200 once spending $500 in your first three months from account opening. Additionally, you can also take advantage of an intro period of 15 months of no interest on purchases (then 14.99% - 23.74% Variable).
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate: Earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 3% back at restaurants, 3% back at drugstores and 1.5% back on all your other eligible purchases. All these rewards are in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, which can be redeemed for straight cash back or a variety of other products and services including gift cards and travel.
- You can earn $200 cash back after spending just $500 within three months of opening an account.
- The cash-back rewards program is lucrative, which is nice when paying medical bills. You can earn at least 1.5% cash back on all purchases. For example, you'd earn $75 when you use the card to pay a $5,000 medical bill.
- No annual fees
- The rewards categories are awesome, but they're complicated. Be prepared to keep up with a lot of categories to truly maximize your rewards.
- The introductory period is solid, but there are cards with longer offers if you think you might need more time to pay off new purchases.
Read our full Chase Freedom Unlimited® review.
Why We Like It: This is another no-annual-fee card offering unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases. What's unique about this card though is it can earn up to 1.8% cash back during the first 12 months. This bonus rate applies to qualified digital wallet purchases like Apply Pay® or Google Pay™. After the promotional period, these purchases will earn the regular earn rate of 1.5%. This card also offers 0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on new purchases and on qualifying balance transfers (then 14.49%-24.99% Variable).
Bonus: Earn $150 once spending $500 on purchases in your first three months from account opening. Plus, enjoy intro 0% APR on purchases and qualifying balance transfers for 15 months from account opening (then 14.49%-24.99% Variable).
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate: Unlimited 1.5% back on your purchases, plus 1.8% back on qualified digital wallet purchases during your first 12 months of account membership.
- You earn a $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first three months after opening an account. This can take a nice chunk out of your medical bill.
- You earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. If you used this card to pay for a $5,000 medical bill, you'd earn $75 cash back.
- This card has no annual fee and an introductory interest rate of intro 0% for the first 15 months on both new purchases and balance transfers (then 14.49%-24.99% Variable).
- Pay your cellular bill with your card and get up to $600 of protection on your cell phone (subject to a $25 deductible) against covered damage and theft.
- There is a fee for balance transfers, but this is standard for cards offering a 0% intro APR period.
- Though it offers a percentage boost for making qualifying digital wallet purchases such as those with Google Pay™ or Apple Pay® in the first 12 months, there are cards out there that offer higher ongoing rewards than the 1.5%.
Read our full Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® card review.
Why We Like It: This is a good card for those who want to choose where they earn bonus rewards. Cardholders can earn 3% cash back on either gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug store, or home improvement purchases; 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 (you'll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchase each quarter, then 1%); and 1% on all other purchases.
Bonus: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate: Earn 3% cash back on either gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug store, or home improvement purchases; 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs up to $2,500 (you'll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchase each quarter, then 1%); and 1% on all other purchases.
- You earn a sign-up bonus of $200 online cash back when you spend $1,000 within the first 90 days after opening an account.
- No annual fee.
- You can earn up to 3% on purchases in a category of your choosing each month, and you can earn 2% cash back on "everyday" expenses like gas and food. This can come in handy for peripheral expenses associated with a family member's medical care.
- If you’re a Bank of America Premier Rewards member you could earn up to 25%-75% more cash back on every purchase made. That means the 3% choice category rewards could be worth as much as 5.25% and the 2% categories could be worth as much as 3.5% back!
- The 3% cash back is great but none of the available categories covers medical expenses. That means you earn just 1% cash back on your medical expenses directly with doctors and providers, BUT if you're buying items online to support your convalescence (or you're just online shopping while you heal up) this card's 3% back in online shopping could be quite lucrative.
- You can only adjust your 3% cash-back earning category once per calendar month. If an unexpected expense comes up in a different category after you've already made your choice, you're out of luck until the following month rolls around.
Read our full Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card review.
Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card has one of the longest introductory 0% APR periods on the market for balance transfers and new purchases. If you need some extra time to pay off medical expenses, this card should definitely be worth your consideration.
Bonus: There is no traditional rewards bonus, but the intro APR periods are bonuses in and of themselves. New cardholders can enjoy 0% intro APR for a whopping 18 months on balance transfers (from the date of first transfer - all transfers must be complete within four months), and 18 months on new purchases. After the promotional periods, regular 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR applies.
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate: This isn't a rewards card, so no traditional rewards are earned on purchases. The big reward with this card is the generous 0% intro APR period which should help take the pain out of paying off some medical expenses.
- The 0% intro APR period is one of the longest we've seen. This can add up to a huge savings if you are using credit cards for your medical bills.
- This card has no annual fee.
- If you have excellent credit, the standard interest rate of 14.74% - 24.74% Variable APR can be very competitive.
- You need excellent credit to be approved for this card.
- This card has no rewards program, so if cash back or accruing miles is important to you, you might want to look elsewhere.
Read our full Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card review.
(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
Why We Like It: This no-annual-fee card stands out because of its solid 0% intro APR offer and ongoing rewards package.
Bonus: Enjoy 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months (then 12.90% - 22.90% Variable).
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate:Earn 5X points per dollar on up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter in categories such as groceries, dining, travel, and automotive, then 1X point, and 1X on all other purchases.
- The intro 0% APR period is decent for a no-annual-fee card.
- Up to 5X points in popular everyday categories is a nice ongoing reward.
- The 0% intro APR offer isn't extended to balance transfers, so if you have an exisiting balance to pay off it may not be the best option for you.
- This card does not offer a traditional rewards welcome bonus to new cardholders.
Read our full ABOC Platinum Rewards Mastercard® Credit Card review.
Why We Like It: At 18 months from account opening, the intro 0% APR period for this card is solid, and plus, it offers other great benefits like cell phone insurance and money management tools, all for no annual fee.
Bonus: There's not a traditional bonus here, but new cardholders are eligible for an introductory 18 months from account opening of no interest on new purchases and qualifying balance transfers (then 16.49%-24.49% Variable). That offer could save you a substantial amount of money if you have new bills to pay or need to consolidate some existing medical bill debt from other credit cards.
Annual Fee: $0
Rewards Rate: This card does not earn rewards on purchases, however, if you use your card to pay your cell phone bill you can get up to $600 in cell phone protection (subject to a $25 deductible, and a maximum of $1,200 in coverage a year).
- This card offers a good introductory offer that works well if you are confronted with a large, unexpected medical expense. You pay intro 0% interest on all new purchases and all balance transfers for a full 18 months from the time your card is activated (then 16.49%-24.49% Variable).
- No annual fee.
- Up to $600 per claim in cell phone protection when you use your card to pay your monthly cell phone bill.
- There is no traditional rewards program.
- There is a balance transfer fee: 3% for 120 days from account opening, then up to 5%; min: $5. However, it's common for cards with intro 0% APR period like this to charge a fee on balance transfers.
Read our full Wells Fargo Platinum card review.
Why We Like It: This card earns unlimited two miles on every purchase made, so whether you're buying groceries or paying medical bills, you're getting rewarded for it.
Bonus: Enjoy a bonus of Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Annual Fee: $95
Rewards Rate: Earn unlimited two miles per dollar on all purchases made.
- This card offers an easily-attainable sign-up bonus, especially if you plan to use credit cards for medical expenses. You can earn up to 100,000 bonus miles (worth up to $1,000 in travel) when you spend $20,000 on purchases in the first 12 months from account opening, or still earn 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
- The rewards program is super simple. You earn two miles for every $1 you spend on all purchases.
- Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔™.
- This card does not charge foreign transaction fees so it's great for traveling both near or far.
- There is an ongoing annual fee to consider. An annual fee is pretty standard though for top travel rewards credit cards.
- The annual fee is easily offset with the number of travel rewards this card offers, but if you're not a regular traveler you may not find these benefits to be valuable.
Read our full Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card review.
Why We Like It: This is no-annual-fee card earns 1.5X miles on all purchases, which is an easy way to rack up rewards, but what's really great about this card is its unique welcome offer to new cardholders. At the end of your first year as a cardholder, Discover will match all the miles you've earned during that year. For example, say you earn 35,000 miles, you'll actually end up with 70,000 miles, worth $700 toward travel.
- UNLIMITED BONUS: Only Discover will automatically match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. There's no signing up, no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a Miles-for-Miles match.
- Automatically earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar of every purchase - with no annual fee.
- New! Redeem Miles to pay any part of your monthly bill, including your minimum payment.
- No annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.
- The rewards system is easy to use and easy to understand.
- The match offer has potential to pay off huge.
- The reward rate is good for a card with no annual fee, but if you are a heavy traveler you may be better off with an annual-fee travel credit card that offers more travel perks and higher reward earning rates.
- While the match offer has potential to pay off huge, it's not the most lucrative offer for those looking for instant gratification.
Read our full Discover it® Miles review.
SHOULD YOU PAY YOUR MEDICAL BILLS WITH A CREDIT CARD?
As we mentioned above, there is no clear-cut answer to this. Credit cards can offer some extra time to pay off medical expenses, or earn you rewards on payments, but it's important to remember that unpaid credit card bills have repercussions too. In some cases medical facilities might be able to work with you by offering payment plans or discounts, which are things credit card issuerers don't generally do. With that said though, with responsible use and planning, using a credit card to pay for medical expenses can sometimes be a good option to consider. This is particularly true for credit cards offering a 0% intro APR period, either on new purchases or balance transfers, as these cards give users extra time to pay off balances interest free. Just remember, once these promotional periods expire, regular rates will apply, so it's important to pay off, or at lesat pay down as much as possible, balances before that happens.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT CREDIT CARD FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES
If you've made the decision to use a credit card for medical expenses, you need to evaluate which card best suites your personal needs.
If you are planning to use the card only to pay off the medical bills and then tuck it into a drawer until the next emergency, look for a card that has no annual fee and one with an excellent 0% introductory offer. The longer the better, to give you as much time as possible to pay off that bill. Some type of cash-back rewards program would be a nice bonus.
On the other hand, you might decide to keep the card for regular use, and if that's the case, you'll want to take additional factors into consideration. You will want to look at the standard interest rate that will kick in after any introductory periods expire, as well as take a look at any rewards program that may be available. Do you prefer cash back or are you one who likes to accumulate points or miles to redeem for travel or merchandise? Consider whether the card has a points/miles plan, is easy to understand, and decide if it fits your spending habits so you can best take advantage of the perks available.
Read the fine print and take a look at the fees. Beyond the annual fee, a card might have a balance transfer fee, a cash advance fee, a late payment fee and a foreign transaction fee, to name a few. Some cards also have a penalty interest rate that kicks in if you are late on your payments.
Before applying for any card, know your credit score. If you have only a fair credit rating, it's not worth your time (and can even be harmful) to apply for a card that requires good to excellent credit for approval.
In short, do your homework. Credit cards can be valuable tools when used right, but rash decisions have the potential to harm your financial stablitiy.
WHAT ARE THE OPTIONS FOR PAYING MEDICAL BILLS?
When it comes to paying medical bills, each institution likely has there own policies, but there are some common options that could be available depending on your situation.
Some facilities will offer a discount if you choose to pay your bill all at once by cash or check. This can be a substantial savings if you are in a position to do it.
More commonly, many facilities have a credit department and are willing to work with a patient (or their family) on a payment plan. Often, this will be a zero-interest program. It might require setting up a monthly "electronic check" payment that will take the money directly out of your checking account each month.
Credit cards are also an option. Nearly all medical facilities accept multiple types of credit cards, with Visa and Mastercard the most widely accepted. If you use the right card and budget properly, you can pay off that bill without building up interest charges.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
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