Paying for health care can be a headache. Even with health insurance, a lot of expenses might not be covered. If you don’t have the cash available to pay out of pocket for health care, medical equipment, and/or services, one option to consider is a health care credit card.

Health care credit cards are special-purpose credit cards that you can use for medical procedures, equipment, elective surgery, alternative therapies, deductibles, and sometimes even veterinary care. Many banks and finance companies offer health care financing, with various options and requirements.

We’ve researched three of the best-known health care credit cards and compared them side by side: ALPHAEON CREDIT vs CareCredit vs United Medical Credit.

In This Article

Pros and Cons of Health Care Credit Cards

There are some unique benefits to using a health care creidt card for your out-of-pocket costs, but there are disadvantages you should watch out for too.

Pros

  • Convenience: Your health care provider may be able to sign you up for a health care credit card in the office — with instant approval.
  • Deferred interest: Most cards let you borrow a certain amount without paying interest, as long as you pay on time.
  • Flexibility: Many cards will let you add the cost of future purchases and/or procedures after the initial loan amount.
  • Accessibility: Some lenders will work with you even if you have bad credit; others will let you apply with a co-signer.

Cons

  • Big penalties: Those “0 percent financing” terms are deferred interest, not free interest. If you’re late with one payment or don’t pay off the balance during the promotion period, the interest kicks in — and it’s not just interest on your payments going forward; you’ll be charged the maximum rate back to the original date of the loan. This may make your loan costs much higher than a regular credit card account would have charged.
  • Complicated agreements: What if you make additional purchases after the first loan? Are they deferred interest too? What if you pay off the initial loan on time but not the extra purchases? Each finance company has different terms, and you’ll need to make sure you understand them before you borrow money.
  • Limited options: Some health care credit cards are only accepted by providers in their network. If you’re starting a long course of treatment, make sure you’re happy with your provider. Finding a new one who accepts your card might be a hassle.

What Can You Use A Health Care Credit Card For?

Health care credit card companies have different restrictions on where the card can be used and for what types of products and services.

ALPHAEON CREDIT

You can only use your ALPHAEON CREDIT account or a limited number of services, and your provider must be part of the ALPHAEON network.

You can use your ALPHAEON CREDIT account for:

  • Bariatric (weight-loss) surgery
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Plastic surgery
  • Some orthopedic services
  • Some wellness services.

Find an ALPHAEON CREDIT provider near you.

CareCredit

Your provider must be enrolled in CareCredit’s national network providers and retailers. CareCredit works with a wide variety of providers and services for you and your pet, including:

  • Chiropractic
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Day spa services
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Health care specialties like allergy testing, cord blood storage, physical therapy, prosthetics, sleep clinics, and treatment for spider veins and varicose veins
  • Hearing testing and hearing aids
  • Primary care or urgent care
  • Veterinarians
  • Vision and LASIK services
  • Weight-loss surgery

And this these are popular topics, here are our articles about what to know about using CareCredit at Walmart and at 1-800 Contacts.

Find a CareCredit provider near you.

United Medical Credit

United Medical Credit isn’t a lender and it doesn’t work directly with health care providers. United Medical Credit is a brokerage that matches customers with loans from a large network of banks and medical lenders. You may or may not have to use an enrolled provider, depending on the lender you’re matched with.

United Medical Credit can match you with financing for various services, including:

  • Bariatric (weight-loss) surgery
  • Cosmetic procedures
  • Dentistry
  • Fertility treatments
  • General health care costs
  • Hearing aids
  • Veterinarians
  • Vision and LASIK services

United Medical Credit has a resource list of medical associations where you can find a doctor for the services you need.

What Are the Payment Terms?

ALPHAEON CREDIT

When you use an ALPHAEON CREDIT card, your loan is financed by Comenity Bank, which is best known for providing store credit cards for retail clothing stores and other specialty lenders. ALPHAEON CREDIT cards have many restrictions on where and how you can use them.

  • Promotional offerings:
    • Zero percent financing with on-time payments and early payoff during the promotional period
    • Structured payments by payment amount or by fixed interest rates
    • Joint accounts for authorized users after the account is opened, with both account holders equally responsible for the balance
    • No application fee
    • No prepayment penalties
  • Financing options:
    • Value: $1,000 to $25,000
    • Time: Six months to seven years
    • Interest: 0 percent to 28.99 percent
  • Learn about the different types of terms available.
  • Your agreement: See a standard agreement on ALPHAEON’s website. Your specific interest rate and other terms may vary based on your credit history and approved loan amount.

CareCredit

Note: CareCredit is owned by Synchrony Financial, formerly GE Capital. In 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau took action against GE Capital for deceptive and discriminatory business practices. GE Capital paid millions in penalties and refunds. Synchrony Financial now offers specialty credit cards for various businesses, including Amazon, Walmart, and Cathay Pacific Airways.

CareCredit offers short-term loans with deferred interest and long-term loans with fixed interest rates. You can keep using your card after the initial purchase, but check your agreement carefully to make sure you know the interest rates and payoff periods on new purchases.

  • Promotional offerings:
    • You can open a joint account with both owners equally responsible for the balance.
    • The account can stay active as long as you use it at least once per year.
  • Financing options:
    • Short-term loans include:
      • Loan amounts of $200 or more
      • Payoff periods of six, 12, 18, or 24 months
      • Zero percent interest with on-time payments and payoff during the promotional period.
    • Long-term loans include:
      • Payoff periods of 24, 36, 48, or 60 months
      • Minimum loan amounts of $1,000 for up to 48 months or $2,500 or up to 60 months
      • Reduced interest rates of 14.9 percent to 16.9 percent
      • Fixed monthly payments until the loan is paid in full.
  • Learn more about CareCredit financing options.
  • Your agreement: Download a standard agreement from the CareCredit website. Your specific interest rate and other terms may be vary based on your credit history and approved loan amount.

United Medical Credit

  • Financing options: The specific terms of your loan will depend on the lender you’re matched with. You may be approved for the whole amount requested or for a partial amount.
  • Your agreement: United Medical Credit doesn’t have a standard loan agreement. Your interest rate and other terms of your agreement will depend on the lender you’re matched with.

How Do You Apply?

ALPHAEON CREDIT

You can apply for ALPHAEON CREDIT online or through a health care provider. Approval is instant. If you are declined, you can reapply in 30 days.

CareCredit

You can apply for CareCredit online, by phone at (800) 677-0718, or through your health care provider. Approval is instant.

United Medical Credit

You can apply through United Medical Credit online. You will match you with a lender based on your location, credit history, and the type of services you are looking to finance. You’ll find out within one business day if your application is accepted by a lender. If you’re declined, you can apply with a co-signer.

How to Make a Health Care Credit Card Work for You

Health care credit cards have some unique advantages, but, just like any loan or credit card, it’s important to understand the terms of your agreement before you sign it. You should also shop around to make sure you’re getting the best interest rate and the most favorable terms. Also, think through the risks and benefits of the loan term and payment requirements. Are you facing any life changes that could affect your income or make it harder for you to make regular payments?

Deferred interest agreements have strict payment schedules. You must make minimum payments before they’re due and pay off the balance before the promotion period ends. Some health care credit cards offer a flat payment schedule with the same amount due every month. Others show you a minimum amount due, but those minimum payments won’t pay off the balance. Know ahead of time which type of payment you’re making. If a late payment will slam you with retroactive interest, be sure you make payments on time and in the correct amount.

In Summary

And that’s ALPHAEON CREDIT vs CareCredit vs United Medical Credit. If your health insurance doesn’t cover the medical services or supplies you need, health care credit cards are an option. The key to making a health care credit card work for you is understanding your options and comparing plans to find the right fit. We’ve made that easy with a point-by-point comparison of ALPHAEON CREDIT, CareCredit, and United Medical Credit.