The CareCredit Mastercard is a popular credit card offering special healthcare financing options. The card, issued by Synchrony Bank, seeks to provide consumers with a flexible and convenient way to pay for medical procedures and services that may not be covered by traditional insurance. But what is CareCredit, and is it worth using it? Here’s everything you need to know about the CareCredit Mastercard before you consider applying for it:
Table of Contents
What is CareCredit?
CareCredit is a no annual fee healthcare credit card designed to help individuals cover medical expenses not fully covered by insurance. It can be used at over 250,000 enrolled providers and locations across the United States, including doctors, dentists, veterinarians, and more. You can even use CareCredit at pharmacies.
CareCredit works by offering offers various financing options, including short-term promotional periods with no interest and long-term financing with reduced interest rates. These promotional financing options can help save you the upfront cost and steep interest charges of the following procedures:
|Fitness||Hearing||Laboratory and diagnostics||Medical equipment and supplies|
|Sleep specialists||Vision care||Weight loss|
But the CareCredit® Rewards™ Mastercard™, the program’s co-branded credit card, offers far more than just deferred financing. The card also earns 2X points per $1 spent on several health-related transactions, including CareCredit Network purchases, health and wellness buys, and grocery and pet store purchases. In case you’re wondering, the “health and wellness” category includes healthcare, drug stores and pharmacies, gym memberships, sporting goods stores, bicycle shops, health & beauty shops, and more.
All other purchases with the card earn a single point (1X per $1 spent on purchases anywhere Mastercard is accepted), with points redeemable for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, and more.
What are the Benefits of CareCredit?
From that introduction, it’s clear that the CareCredit® Rewards™ Mastercard™ – and the CareCredit program – provide plenty of value for any consumer concerned about unforeseen medical costs. Here are the best benefits of the card:
Flexible Financing Options
As mentioned, the CareCredit Mastercard offers a range of financing options. For short-term expenses, such as dental procedures or elective surgeries, you can take advantage of promotional periods with no interest if the balance is paid off within a specific timeframe. This can provide much-needed breathing room for individuals facing unexpected medical costs.
CareCredit offers the following financing options to cardholders:
- Deferred interest if paid in full in 6, 8, 12, or 24 months (requires an eligible transaction of $200+)
- Reduced APR and fixed monthly payments for 6, 8, 12, or 24 months (requires an eligible transaction of $200+)
CareCredit offers a pre-qualification tool on its website, allowing you to determine if you might be approved for the card before actually applying for it. Pre-qualification does not guarantee approval, but it can give you an idea of your likelihood of success. If you pre-qualify, you can proceed with the full application, which does involve a hard credit check – meaning it will appear on your full credit report.
CareCredit and Synchrony provide an instant virtual credit card upon approval for the CareCredit Mastercard. This means you can use the card immediately, even before receiving the physical version, by adding it to your mobile wallet (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, etc.). This feature can be particularly helpful in health emergencies when time is of the essence.
Beyond a quick approval process, solid reward points on key purchases, and promotional financing for unexpected or elective surgeries or procedures, the CareCredit Mastercard provides several other benefits, including the wide acceptance of the Mastercard payment network. Mastercard is one of the world’s biggest payment networks, currently accepted in over 212 countries. As a full-feature Mastercard credit card, cardholders can expect the following Mastercard benefits and protections:
|Zero Liability Protection||Mastercard Global Services||ID Theft Protection|
But CareCredit’s wide acceptance is due to more than just the Mastercard logo. CareCredit is accepted by a vast network of healthcare providers as well, making it easier for cardholders to find participating professionals and facilities. Whether you need to visit a specialist, undergo a medical procedure, or even care for your pet, you’ll likely find a provider that accepts CareCredit in your area.
Finally, CareCredit offers flexible payment options, allowing cardholders to choose the financing plan that suits their needs. Whether you prefer short-term promotions or longer-term financing with a reduced APR, you can select the option that aligns with your financial situation.
The Drawbacks of CareCredit
A medical credit card might sound like a gamechanger – and in many ways it is. But there are limitations of the program you need to know about before applying:
|High APR||While CareCredit offers promotional financing options, the regular purchase APR with the card is far in excess of what most patients pay when taking out a personal or medical loan to pay for procedures. If you don’t pay off your balance within the promotional period, you may be subject to the regular APR, which is very high when compared to other rewards credit cards for health purchases.|
|Deferred interest||As mentioned, one of the two financing options with CareCredit comes with deferred interest. If you fail to pay off the entire balance within the promotional period, you’ll be charged interest on the original amount financed, not just the remaining balance. It’s crucial to manage your payments carefully to avoid unexpected interest charges.|
|Limited rewards||CareCredit earns bonus points outside of CareCredit procedures and services. Despite this, these bonus categories are limited to health and wellness-type transactions. If you want a credit card that offers more versatility and can be used for everyday expenses, you may need to consider other options.|
How to Maximize Value with CareCredit
Ensuring you get the most value for your money with CareCredit is essential to maximizing your experience as a cardholder. Fortunately, there are a few helpful tips to help you accomplish this goal:
- Understand the terms: Familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your chosen promotional offer. Note the promotional period’s end date, minimum monthly payments, and any potential deferred interest charges. By understanding these details, you can plan your payments accordingly.
- Use automatic payments: Consider setting up automatic payments for your CareCredit account to avoid late fees and interest charges. This will help ensure that your payments are made on time and in the correct amount. However, monitor your account regularly to ensure the payments are being processed correctly.
- Track your spending: Keep track of your CareCredit spending to stay within your budget and avoid accumulating excessive debt. It’s easy to overlook small purchases, but they can add up quickly. Regularly review your statements to stay on top of your expenses.
- Explore other financing options: While the CareCredit Mastercard can be useful, it’s always a good idea to explore other financing options before deciding. Consider alternatives such as personal loans, medical payment plans offered by providers, or even negotiating payment arrangements directly with healthcare professionals.
Is CareCredit Worth It?
Determining if the CareCredit Mastercard is worth it depends on your circumstances and financial goals. If you have upcoming medical expenses not covered by insurance and need a flexible financing option, CareCredit can be a viable solution. However, it’s crucial to carefully consider the terms and conditions, especially regarding promotional periods and potential interest charges.
Before applying for the CareCredit Mastercard, assess your ability to manage payments within the promotional period and ensure you have a clear plan for paying off the balance. If you believe you can responsibly handle the financing terms and take advantage of the promotional offers, CareCredit can provide valuable financial assistance for your medical needs.
Other Options to Consider
There aren’t too many “health and wellness” credit cards out there – but a few exist that can serve a similar function. Perhaps the biggest completion for the CareCredit Mastercard is the Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Visa®. The Upgrade Triple Cash earns an unlimited 3% cash back on health, home, and auto purchases, with no hidden fees and a regular APR significantly lower than CareCredit. The “health” category is exceptionally broad and includes expenses such as:
|Bike shops||Chiropractors||Counseling services||Dance studios|
|Health spas||Beauty spas||Hearing aids||Hospitals|
|Labs||Membership clubs||Country clubs||Nursing|
|Golf courses||Recreational||Sporting goods||Sports apparel|
The myWalgreens™ Mastercard® is another health and wellness credit card issued by Synchrony. This $0 annual fee retail credit card earns up to 10% back in rewards on Walgreens purchases, 3% on grocery and health & wellness purchases outside of Walgreens, and more. It’s not exactly the same as the CareCredit Card, but it can still help you offset some of the costs of your prescriptions, health and wellness supplements, and even any last-minute shopping should you need a quick gift, card, snack, or anything else from Walgreens brands (including Walgreens, Walgreens.com, and Duane Reade stores).
Summing It Up
The CareCredit Mastercard offers a range of benefits for individuals facing medical expenses that are not fully covered by insurance. With its flexible financing options and wide acceptance at healthcare providers, it can provide a convenient solution for managing healthcare costs. However, it’s important to understand the potential drawbacks, such as deferred interest and high APR for standard purchases. By carefully considering the terms and managing your payments responsibly, you can make the most of the CareCredit Mastercard and navigate your medical expenses more easily.
Featured image by Freeimages
Check out more
Credit Card Advice
Editorial Disclosure – The opinions expressed on BestCards.com's reviews, articles, and all other content on or relating to the website are solely those of the content’s author(s). These opinions do not reflect those of any card issuer or financial institution, and editorial content on our site has not been reviewed or approved by these entities unless noted otherwise. Further, BestCards.com lists credit card offers that are frequently updated with information believed to be accurate to the best of our team's knowledge. However, please review the information provided directly by the credit card issuer or related financial institution for full details.