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

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? I did a lot of research about this card, and here’s what I found out.

What I love…

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

What I don’t…

  • Deferred interest can get ahead of you

What Is a CareCredit Card?

Let’s start simple. A CareCredit card is an actual credit card. That means you use it just like any other type of credit card: you make purchases and charge the amount of the purchase to the card. Unlike other types of credit cards, though, a CareCredit card is a medical credit card. That means it can be used for medical procedures, treatments, and expenses only. You won’t be whipping this plastic out for your next Macy’s shopping spree. But you can use it to cover your next root canal, wellness checkup, or knee-replacement surgery.

I know what you’re thinking: a credit card used to purchase medical treatments? Sounds sketchy. Actually, medical credit cards are becoming more and more popular as the price of health care rises and fewer procedures are being covered. In fact, some major financial players are rolling out medical cards like JPMorgan, Capital One, GE Capital, and Synchrony Bank, a financial institution that has been standing for more than thirty years now, that has rolled out a medical card of its own.

And, why not? CareCredit cards are useful for both the medical care provider and the patient. The provider is ensured that they get 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.

How a CareCredit Card Works

CareCredit cards are laughably simple to use. You just sign up for the card, check which specialist, clinic, or treatment center accepts the card and is closest to you, and charge the medical expenses to your card. The CareCredit card works together with more than 200,000 health care providers across the country, so you are bound to find a few professionals in your area that take the card.

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 and can get financing of 6, 12, 18, or 24 months for anything over $200. The coolest part is that you’ll pay no interest during the entire financing period. There is a catch, though. You 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 from the date of purchase.

There are also financing options of 24, 36, 48, for larger purchases of $1,000 or more. These charges come with a 14.9% interest rate. Finally, the CareCredit card offers financing for up to 60 months if you spend $2,500 or more. Of course, that option will cost you 16.9% in interest. So, the break down is like this:

  • $200-$999: 0% interest for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months
  • $1,000-$2,499: 14.9% interest for 24, 36, 48 months
  • $2,500 or more (up to $25,000) 16.9% interest for 24, 36, 48, or 60 months

That’s a great offer. It means you’ll be able to spread out your expensive medical treatment into more manageable monthly payments AND not have to pay any interest for up to two years. If you want to spread it out even longer, you’ll pay a lower interest rate than you would with a normal credit card as well.

Another thing I love about the CareCredit card is that there are no fees involved. 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.

What’s Covered With the CareCredit Card?

The CareCredit card covers a tremendous 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’ll also cover several other medical expenses such as purchases made at drugstores like Rite Aid and Bowflex products. Here’s a more comprehensive list of what’s covered by the CareCredit card: (Note: While these may be covered by the 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.)

  • 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 including gastric bypass, slim band, gastric sleeve, and bariatric bypass
  • Urgent care centers
  • Veterinary services
  • Vision centers

Who Can Apply for the CareCredit Card?

Another awesome part of the CareCredit card is that it is really easy to get approved for. 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. 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 (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 it’s a safe bet.

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 9AM-9PM 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.

As I said, the beauty of applying for a CareCredit card is that approval is generally instantaneous, 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 applied for a standard credit card will appreciate immensely.

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, and it is the money behind 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.

Additional Benefits

In addition to having a fabulous way to afford pricey medical procedures without the stress, the CareCredit card offers other benefits like:

  • 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 save on clutter around your apartment, 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.

Deferred Interest

The single 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:

  • You charge $1,200 to your CareCredit card to be paid out over 6 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.

Learn more information about how credit cards work here.

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