Despite the 2010 passage of Obamacare, health care deductibles and out-of-pocket costs have spiraled. And many American families will face medical expenses this year due to the coronavirus outbreak. Here are a few credit cards that can help you pay your medical bills.
In fact, for the 2020 plan year, the out-of-pocket maximum for a marketplace plan is $8,150 for individuals and a whopping $16,300 for families.
In addition to people who have pricey deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums to meet, there are also those who don’t have any health insurance and have to pay in cash as they go. And thousands of American families affected by the COVID-19 outbreak will be faced with medical expenses in the weeks and months to come.
With these issues in mind, it’s no wonder some families need to put some of their medical expenses on a credit card each year. Doing so may not be ideal, but it may be the only option for consumers who require medical care they absolutely have to pay for ahead of time.
Which credit card should you use for medical bills?
Since credit cards come with an average APR over 16%, not just any card will do. We recommend using a credit card that offers 0% APR for a lengthy period as well as a rewards component that can help lessen the blow of your medical bills. Here are three cards we think you should consider this year.
See related: When should you use medical credit cards?
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
- Earn a $150 statement credit when you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening
- Earn 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then it’s 1%), 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1% on other purchases
- No annual fee
- 0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months from the date of account opening, followed by a variable APR of 13.99% to 23.99%
- Terms Apply
Why you should consider it: Not only can you earn an initial bonus of $150 (via statement credit) by meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, but you can earn 3% cash back on U.S. supermarket spending as well as rewards on regular purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited*
- Earn a $200 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
- 5% cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2022)
- 1.5% back on all other purchases
- No annual fee
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 14.99% to 23.74%
Why you should consider it: The Chase Freedom Unlimited can work well for medical expenses you need to charge for a credit card. Not only can you earn an initial bonus if you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening, but you’ll earn a flat 1.5% back for each dollar you spend on medical bills.
You’ll also save money on interest with 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, although you should keep in mind that your introductory APR will reset to the much higher variable APR once your offer is over.
At the end of the day, this card is ideal for anyone who needs to charge a small amount of medical bills to a credit card and then pay them off interest-free for a little over a year. You’ll avoid interest in the process and you’ll earn rewards on your medical bills, too.
Capital One® SavorOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card*
- Earn a $150 cash bonus when you spend $500 on your card within three months of account opening
- Earn 3% back on dining and entertainment, 2% back at grocery stores and 1% back on other purchases
- No annual fee
- 0% APR for purchases and balance transfers for 15 months, followed by a variable APR of 15.49% to 25.49%
Why you should consider it: The Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is yet another option that can help you save money on interest for 15 months while you earn rewards on your medical spending and other bills.
This card could be a good choice for anyone who spends a lot on takeout or at the grocery store. Just remember that, like other rewards credit cards on this list with 0% APR, these offers don’t last forever and your balance will eventually be charged the much higher variable APR.
See related: How to clean your credit card
Should you put your medical expenses on a credit card?
Should you put your medical expenses on a credit card? That’s really up to you to decide. There are definitely benefits that come with using credit, but as we mentioned already, the long-term costs can wind up being substantial if you don’t pay your balance off before your introductory offer ends.
Before you pay medical bills with a credit card, consider these pros and cons:
- Credit cards are convenient to apply for and use as a form of payment. You can apply for a credit card online, then use it to pay your medical bills in person, over the phone or through the regular mail.
- You can earn rewards. Not only can you earn an initial bonus on your medical bill spending, but you can earn additional rewards based on how high your medical bills climb. Of course, you can also use a rewards credit card to rack up more points on all your other bills.
- Avoid interest for a limited time. The cards we’ve outlined here and plenty of others offer 0% APR on purchases, balance transfers or both for a limited time.
- Introductory 0% APR offers don’t last forever. While securing 0% APR for 15 months can help you save money, don’t forget that your interest rate will eventually reset. Since the average credit card APR is over 16%, you won’t want to use your credit card as a short-term loan for long.
- Balance transfer fees can apply. If you’re transferring medical debt from another card to a new one to score 0% APR, keep in mind that balance transfer fees usually apply. These fees can vary, but they normally work out to 3% or 5% of your balance, and that amount is added to your balance upfront.
- Credit cards make it easy to rack up more debt. Credit cards are almost too convenient sometimes, and they also make racking up more debt a breeze. If you decide to use plastic to cover medical bills, you should make sure you have a plan to pay your debts off.
See related: How the coronavirus pandemic could impact women
Like other financial products, credit cards offer an imperfect way to finance purchases you want to pay off over time. You can earn rewards and secure 0% APR with a credit card, but expensive medical bills could easily leave you drowning in debt after your card’s introductory offer is over.
With that in mind, credit cards may work best for people who have minimal medical debt they can pay off in a short amount of time.
If you are drowning in medical expenses that might take years to pay down, consider negotiating with your hospital or medical provider. Also, consider the prospect of borrowing money with a much lower interest rate with the help of a personal loan.
*All information about the Chase Freedom Unlimited and the Capital One Savor One Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuers. These cards are no longer available through CreditCards.com.