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Best credit cards for paying your medical bills

May 10, 2021
10 min read
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information. This page includes information about the Discover It Miles that is not currently available on The Points Guy and may be out of date.


There’s nothing quite like a big medical expense that can throw off even the best mapped-out financial plans. Even if you have coverage from health insurance — medical, dental and veterinary bills can quickly soar into the thousands and decimate emergency funds and saving accounts. So, how can you come up with a strategy for tackling these unexpected expenses?

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Financing through medical credit accounts is one way. These accounts tend to operate like store-issued credit cards and are usually linked to specific providers. Many medical, dental and veterinary offices will submit applications on behalf of patients, often negotiating 0% interest financing periods. However, typical interest rates on these accounts are likely to be higher than that of your credit cards, especially for borrowers with excellent credit.

These accounts also tend to be particularly costly for borrowers who can’t pay balances off during promotional balance periods. Balances not paid in full often face interest charges — at rates as high as 27.99% — on the full amount from the initial date of a charge. They also don't earn rewards.

This is why you might also want to consider a traditional credit card for tackling those medical expenses. Let's take a look at your options.

A rewards card may be your best bet

Medical bills typically don't fit into traditional credit card bonus categories, although there is one exception. But a 0% APR offer and the chance to earn miles or cash back can make everyday spending cards a solid bet for paying medical expenses — especially for borrowers who are confident they’ll be able to pay off their bills within promotional financing windows.

Related: Maximizing points and miles on healthcare spending

Consider a cash-back card that will help you pay off statement credit charges or deposit rewards straight into your bank account. The Citi® Double Cash Card has no annual fee and offers up to 2% cash back on all your purchases (1% when you buy, 1% as you pay), making this one of the most high-earning cash-back cards out there. This card incentivizes you to pay off your charges so that you can earn the additional 1% of cash back. There's an introductory 0% APR period for the first 18 months for balance transfers (subject to an introductory balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5). After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5). After, the variable APR ranges from 17.74% to 27.74% based on your creditworthiness. If you're using this card for balance transfers, note that you won't earn cash-back rewards.

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Furthermore, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a worthwhile choice if you're looking for a rewards card to pay your medical bills. It comes with an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back! The card has no annual fee and offers a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months from account opening. If you're a new cardholder, you'll want to make sure you pay your balance before your intro APR offer expires, as regular interest rates on the card are a variable APR of 17.99% - 26.74%. You'll earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3% on dining and drugstore purchases and all other purchases automatically earn 1.5% cash back.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

If you're over Chase's 5/24 rule and can't qualify for the Freedom Unlimited at this time, consider the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards credit card instead. Also with no annual fee, you'll earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all your purchases and a $200 sign-up bonus after making $500 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. This card comes with a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months of account opening (17.99%-27.99% variable APR after that); 3% fee on the amounts transferred within the first 15 months.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Or, sign up for the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Every purchase earns 2x miles per dollar with an annual fee of $95. Venture miles are worth 1.85 cents each, according to TPG valuations and can be used for flights and hotels or transferred to any of Capital One's 19 airline and hotel partners.

(Photo by The Points Guy)
(Photo by The Points Guy)

Prefer to avoid an annual fee? Try the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, which offers 1.25x miles for every dollar spent on the card and has no annual fee.

Related: The best credit cards for everyday spending

The Discover it Miles also has no annual fee and earns 1.5x miles for every dollar you put on the card, which you could use to take yourself on vacation to celebrate your recovery. At the end of your first year (12 consecutive billing periods), Discover will match the miles you've earned on the card.

The information for the Discover it Miles has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Use these cards to maximize large purchases

Health-related cards

There are various credit cards specifically catered for health-related reasons. While you'll bypass earning any rewards on most of the cards, they do come with financing offers that can help you avoid any additional interest.

AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The AARP Essential Rewards Mastercard is the only card on this list that actually delivers rewards at a rate of 2% cash back on eligible medical expenses. And best of all, it covers a broad range of expenses such as dentists, orthodontists, osteopathic physicians, chiropractors, optometrists, ophthalmologists, opticians, optical goods and eyeglasses, chiropodists, podiatrists, hospitals, medical and dental labs, hearing aids, ambulance services, orthopedic goods, prosthetic devices, nursing and personal care facilities and other medical services.

The card also features a 0% intro APR for balance transfers made within the first 45 days of account opening for the first 15 billing cycles if you need to transfer over medical debt from a high-interest credit card (then a variable APR of 16.74% to 25.74% applies). The card has a balance transfer fee of 3% (min. $5).

The information for the AARP Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Wells Fargo Health Advantage® Card

The Wells Fargo Health Advantage card could be a good bet if you don’t have access to 0% financing, low-fee, low-interest balance transfers, or don’t think you’ll be able to pay off a promotional balance in time to avoid what’s sure to feel like an exorbitant interest charge.

This card comes with a 12.99% APR and offers occasional financing promotions. Once you're approved, this card is accepted by many medical, dental, hearing, vision and veterinary providers.

The information for the Wells Fargo Health Advantage card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

CareCredit

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

CareCredit is like any other credit card but is used only for paying medical expenses. It doesn't earn rewards, but CareCredit can be used to pay for out-of-pocket expenses at more than 225,000 medical, dental and veterinary providers across the U.S. Once you open a CareCredit account, you can use it at any provider that accepts CareCredit.

CareCredit offers 0% interest financing on transactions of $200 or more for up to 24 months with minimum monthly payments. Longer-term financing is available at rates between 14.9% and 17.9% for 60 months.

Note that CareCredit’s regular purchase APR is 26.99%. Like medical lines of credit, CareCredit uses deferred interest financing, meaning interest is charged on full loan amounts from initial transaction dates on balances that aren’t paid in full when a financing promotion expires.

The information for the CareCredit has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Loan repayment program: If you have less-than-stellar credit

Photo courtesy of AccessOne.

The AccessOne MedCard is a patient financing program that won't turn down borrowers due to poor credit, nor does it require a minimum credit score and doesn’t report to credit bureaus. Interest rates start at 0% and loan terms can be as long as 100 months. Patients will only need a statement from their medical care provider to get set up.

Technically, the AccessOne MedCard isn’t a credit card — it’s a loan repayment program for medical expenses. Its focus is to provide low-interest loans to anyone in need of medical care.

The information for the AccessOne MedCard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Best credit cards for building your credit

Bottom line

Medical expenses don't have to drain your savings account. Several unique credit programs exist to help people deal with and finance these often unexpected bills, though they don't bring the rewards many cardholders have become accustomed to. Alternatively, your favorite everyday spending card can earn you cash back or points toward what may be a much-needed vacation after you've recovered.

Additional reporting by Stella Shon and Juan Ruiz.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023