If you’ve been struggling or unable to pay for an expensive medical procedure, then the CareCredit card might be just the thing you’re looking for. CareCredit is a credit card uniquely designed for the sole purpose of funding medical expenses. CareCredit makes a wide range of medical expenses more manageable, giving people the ability to cover procedures and treatments that they never would have been able to afford otherwise. It also offers flexible payment options to cover emergency medical expenses that come up unexpectedly.

But, what exactly is the CareCredit card? How does it work? And what is the important fine print that you need to know before signing up? Here’s everything you need to know about CareCredit:

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The Best Features of CareCredit At a Glance

  • Interest-free lending for up to two years
  • Large network of accepted providers
  • No extra fees
  • Instant approval

The Worst Features of CareCredit At a Glance

  • Deferred interest can get ahead of you

What Is a CareCredit Card?

A CareCredit card is an actual credit card. It works a lot like a regular credit card: you make purchases and charge the amount of the purchase to the card. Then you pay it back, possibly with interest depending on how long you carry a balance. Unlike other types of credit cards, though, a CareCredit card is a medical credit card. That means it can only be used for medical procedures, treatments, and expenses. You can’t use your CareCredit card to pay for a shopping spree, but you can use it to cover a root canal, wellness checkup or even a knee-replacement surgery.

The idea of a medical credit card might sound unfamiliar,  but medical credit cards have become more and more popular as the price of healthcare rises and fewer procedures are being covered. Additionally, having access to CareCredit can help those who are uninsured access unaffordable medical treatments by breaking them down into smaller payments.

In fact, some major financial players are rolling out medical cards such as JPMorgan, Capital One and GE Capital. Synchrony Bank, for example, has rolled out its own medical credit card, after more than 30 years in business. 

And, why not? CareCredit cards are useful for both the medical care provider and the patient. The provider gets paid immediately, and that they can offer the medical care their patients need without unnecessary financial delays. It also means doctors won’t have to run around chasing down debt and can spend their valuable time helping more patients.

Patients benefit from these medical cards in even more obvious ways. A patient can get the medical treatment they need instantly, without having to worry about finances holding things up. Plus, they can typically get at least a year of 0% APR.

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How a CareCredit Card Works

CareCredit cards are easy to use, especially if you already know how to use a regular credit card. You can sign up for a CareCredit card online, or through your medical provider. Check which specialist, clinic or treatment center accepts CareCredit and is closest to you, and charge the medical expenses to your card. The CareCredit card works with more than 200,000 health care providers across the country, so you are bound to find medical providers in your area that accept the card.

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CareCredit Interest Rates

With the CareCredit card, you have an up to $25,000 credit limit. That can cover a wide spectrum of medical procedures or treatments. You have several financing options to choose from and can get financing of 6, 12, 18 or 24 months for costs exceeding $200. Depending on the plan, you can pay no interest during your initial financing period. You will, however, have to pay off your balance in full before the end of the repayment term. If you don’t pay it off in full and on time, you’ll be charged 26.99% interest on the remaining balance from the date of purchase.

There are also financing options of 24, 36 or 48 months for larger purchases of $1,000 or more. These charges come with a 14.9% APR. Finally, the CareCredit card offers financing for up to 60 months if you spend $2,500 or more. That option will cost you 16.90% APR. Here’s a full breakdown of CareCredit interest rates:

  • $200-$999: 0% APR for 6, 12, 18 or 24 months
  • $1,000-$2,499: 14.90was % APR for 24, 36 or  48 months
  • $2,500 or more (up to $25,000): 16.90% APR for 24, 36, 48 or 60 months

With rates and terms like these, you can spread out your expensive medical treatment into more manageable monthly payments and avoid paying interest for up to two years. If you want to spread out payments over a longer period of time, you’ll pay a lower interest rate than you would with a normal credit card as well.

CareCredit Fees

On top of all that, the CareCredit card has no surprise fees. There’s no application fee, no activation fee and no hidden charges for using the special financing options. There is a late payment fee of as much as $38, and missing a payment can nullify your 0% interest promotional deal, so make sure not to skip out on the monthly payments.

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What’s Covered With the CareCredit Card?

The CareCredit card covers a range of medical expenses including things that are covered by your more traditional medical insurance copays, elective medical procedures, doctors, dentists, surgical centers, hearing and vision care, hair restoration and even vet visits. It can also cover several other medical expenses such as purchases made at drugstores like Rite Aid. Here’s a more comprehensive list of what’s covered by the CareCredit card: Chiropractors

  • Cosmetic surgeries and treatments
  • Day spas
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Hearing centers
  • Health care specialists
  • LASIK surgery
  • Primary care facilities
  • Weight loss clinics and procedures such as gastric bypass, slim band, gastric sleeve and bariatric bypass
  • Urgent care centers
  • Veterinary services
  • Vision centers

It’s important to note that while the things on this list may be covered by a CareCredit card, you’ll have to find a healthcare professional or facility that accepts the card in order to pay for the expenses with the CareCredit card.

Who Can Apply for the CareCredit Card?

Another appealing part of the CareCredit card is that it is really easy for you to get approved. Unlike other credit cards, there is no credit check involved, and you don’t have to have impressive credit history, employment records and sterling debt to income ratio to be approved. In fact, you can get approved instantly for the CareCredit card, and there are only a few qualification requirements including:

  • You must be at least 21 years old or 18 if applying online
  • You must have a Social Security number or ITIN

That’s all it takes to apply. You aren’t guaranteed approval, but many people can qualify.

Read: How Does My Personal Credit Affect My Business?

How to Apply for the CareCredit Card

There are three ways to apply for a CareCredit card. You can:

  • Apply over the phone Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST with a representative or at any time using the automated phone system at 1-800-677-0718. To apply over the phone, you must be 21 or older.
  • You can also apply online anytime you want. To apply online, you must be 18 or older.
  • Finally, you can find an application form at most medical centers or health care provider offices. Just fill out the form and get approved on the spot.

When applying you’ll be asked for some basic information like:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Net income
  • Housing information

You’ll also be asked about specific doctors or health care facilities that you intend to use your CareCredit card at. It’s worth noting that cardholders can use their CareCredit cards anywhere they want — so long as the facility accepts the card — after they’ve applied and been approved. So, you are not limited to the doctor or facility you put down on the application form. It’s just used as a starting point.

Among the best aspects of the CareCredit card is that approval can be instant, so you don’t have to wait to find out if you can get the medical treatment you need. You also don’t have to have an excellent credit score to get approved for the card, something that many people who’ve been declined for a standard credit card will appreciate immensely.

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What Is SYNCB and Why is it Showing Up On My Credit Report?

SYNCB stands for Synchrony Bank. This is a financial establishment that provides banking products and services of various kinds including things like savings accounts, IRAs, certificates of deposit, mobile banking solutions and more. For your purposes, Synchrony Bank is the company behind many types of credit cards, including the CareCredit credit cards. That’s why it’s showing up on your statement and what relationship it has to you vis-a-vis your credit card. You might see this show up on your credit report in a number of ways, including SYNCB, SYNCB/CareCredit or even syncb care credit. Know that if you have a CareCredit card and you see any of these terms on your reports or statements, it’s simply reflecting you medical credit card issued by Synchrony Bank. 

Additional Benefits

In addition to providing access to afford pricey medical procedures, CareCredit offers other benefits:

  • Paperless statements: What’s good for the earth, must be good for you, right? Well, whether you’re doing it to be earth-conscious or to keep your apartment free of clutter, CareCredit cards let you enjoy the convenience of paperless statements.
  • Card security: Another important feature is the CareCredit card security. This insures your account for up to $10,000 in the event of things like unemployment, hospitalization, leave of absence, nursing home stay, disability or loss of life. You’ll pay $1.66 for every $100 on your remaining balance each month, and if any of those things happen, you won’t be liable to pay for up to $10,000 of your account balance.

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Deferred Interest

The primary downside to this card is the way it charges interest. Deferred interest isn’t the same as no interest. The first one pushes off the interest until the end of the promotional period, while the second one cancels it out altogether. The CareCredit card charges deferred interest. Here’s how that looks as an example:

  • Let’s say you charge $1,200 to your CareCredit card to be paid out over the next six months.
  • Every month, you pay $100, so by the end of the six months, you’ve paid off half of your debt.
  • When the six months are over, you’ll end up paying interest on the full $1,200 that you charged (not just the $600 remaining on your balance).

That’s deferred interest. It doesn’t go away unless you pay the entire balance within the promotional period. You can stay ahead of this easily by ensuring that you pay off your balance before the promotional period ends. Just remember the minimum monthly payments might not be enough to cover the entire balance, so plan accordingly.

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