A sudden toothache that needs immediate attention can be a problem for folks already struggling to cover their monthly bills. For some, the answer is a credit card that makes it easier to stretch out dental work payments.
While credit cards are no substitute for dental insurance, they can provide a little breathing room by suspending interest payments for defined periods. That can be important when facing an unexpected four-figure dental bill. In the article that follows, we’ll take a look at several of our experts’ top picks for the best credit cards for dental work available today.
The Best No-Interest Cards for Dental Work Financing
Understanding the terms of a dental credit card before applying is important. One offers 0% financing only if paid in full within the specified period. Others provide a 0% financing period without accruing interest. Here is information to help you select the card that best fits your financial needs.
You can use the CareCredit card from Synchrony Bank to finance out-of-pocket medical and dental costs from enrolled providers. It offers 0% promotional financing for 6, 12, 18, or 24 months, depending on your creditworthiness.
- 0% financing for 6 to 24 months, depending on your credit score
- 26.99% APR after the 0% period expires
- Accepted by more than 200,000 healthcare providers
- No annual fee
If you don’t fully repay your bill before the end of the promotional period, you will be charged interest for the entire original purchase. It also offers longer financing terms of up to 60 months with reduced APRs.
The Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card is a solid options for saving on interest thanks to its 18-month 0% APR introductory offer good on both new purchases and balance transfers (balance transfers must be made within 120 days of account opening; transfer fee applies).
- Receive 0% APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 18 months
- Receive up to $600 in cellphone protection
- Pay $0 annual fee
In addition to a competitive introductory offer, this card comes with a number of Wells Fargo and Visa benefits, including up to $600 in cellphone protection when you pay your bill with your card, as well as free FICO credit scores and $0 liability protection.
(The information related to Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card has been collected by CardRates.com and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product or service.)
The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Credit Card offers a 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 18 months. It charges no annual fee and does not accrue interest during the introductory period. Card benefits include $0 liability protection, the ability to choose your payment date, seamless integration with Apple Pay, and access to Citi Concierge for help with shopping, dining, travel, and entertainment. You also can use Citi Private Pass for special deals on entertainment events and venues.
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
- No annual fee
- No minimum to redeem for cash back
- Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
0% 15 Months
The no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited® offers an introductory 0% APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, with no interest accrual during the period. You earn 3% cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases made the first year and 1.5% cash back on all purchases thereafter. Cash back rewards don’t expire as long as the account remains open. The card protects you with $0 liability protection, free credit scores via Credit Journey, purchase protection for 120 days on product damage or theft, and extended warranty protection.
- Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter!
- Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.
- 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, with a minimum of $5.
- No annual fee
0% Intro APR on Purchases 15 months
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers 15 months
14.99% - 23.74% Variable
You get 15 months of 0% APR purchases and balance transfers when you acquire a Chase Freedom®. This no-annual-fee card offers a modest cash back bonus when you spend the specified amount in the first three months, which may be easily attainable if used to finance your dental procedure. The card pays 5% cash back on quarterly rotating bonus categories that you must activate. All other purchases earn 1% cash back, and cash back rewards don’t expire while the account remains open.
The Best Card for Dental Work Financing with Bad Credit
You won’t find many credit cards that offer 0% financing to consumers with bad credit. In fact, it can be hard for those with bad or no credit to qualify for any unsecured card. If you need to finance dental work, an unsecured card is more flexible than a secured or prepaid one.
at the issuer'ssecure website
- Pre-qualify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
- Less than perfect credit is okay
- Mobile account access at any time
- Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
- Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
$0 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit
The Indigo® Mastercard® is designed for customers with bad, limited, or no credit. You can prequalify for the card with no credit score impact and receive a decision in 60 seconds. The card lets you choose among several designs. You can access your account at any time via your tablet, desktop, or mobile device.
Can You Pay for Dental Work with a Credit Card?
Virtually all dentists accept credit card payments. Of course, it’s a good idea to check first. The more important question is whether you can obtain a new credit card to take advantage of 0% financing when you need dental work, but you don’t have the cash to pay for it upfront.
Five of the cards we recommend for dental work provide an interest-free introductory period of six to 24 months. Naturally, the longer the no-interest period, the more breathing room you have to pay off the bill.
The CareCredit card differs from the others in that you will have to pay all accrued interest if you don’t pay off the bill by the end of the promotional period. This means you run the risk of facing a big payoff amount if you can’t pay off the full balance before the end of the interest-free period.
The other four cards that offer a promotional 0% APR period don’t accrue interest during the period. That means when the promotional period ends, you’ll only begin to accrue interest on any remaining balance owed.
If you can’t obtain a new credit card with 0% financing due to bad credit, you can use your existing credit cards to pay the dentist, assuming you have other cards and they provide enough total credit. Another option is to take out a personal loan to pay your dental bill. A personal loan may charge you less interest than your current credit cards will.
Do Dentists Accept Payment Plans?
Many dentists, but by no means all, offer their own payment plans or can help you obtain a CareCredit card.
Private dental payment plans differ from one practice to the next. This gives you an incentive to shop around to see the plans offered by your local dentists. Even if a dentist offers an attractive in-office payment plan, it makes sense to check online reviews and verify that the dentist is reputable.
Your dentist’s payment plan may require a large down payment. A simple cavity filling can cost several hundred dollars. Caps, crowns, bridges, and implants can easily run up a bill of several thousand dollars.
It’s likely that your dentist’s plan won’t report your payments to the credit bureaus unless you default. Not reporting your payments can be a good thing, because it means your credit score won’t suffer if you are occasionally late making a payment.
Many dentists offer the CareCredit card to help patients obtain financing. It’s possible your dentist will offer CareCredit in addition to his or her own in-office plan. Check to see if their payment plan charges accrued interest. If not, it may be a better deal. Also, verify whether they report your payments to the credit bureaus. If you are confident that you will make timely payments, then credit bureau reporting can improve your credit score.
Does CareCredit Hurt Your Credit?
There is a scenario in which CareCredit may hurt your credit score. This could happen if you have poor or no credit and qualify for a low credit limit from CareCredit. One dental procedure can cause you to use a large percentage of your available credit.
The credit bureaus monitor your credit utilization ratio, which is the amount of credit you use divided by the credit available to you. The major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax) frown on high credit utilization ratios because it indicates that you could be vulnerable to default if you suddenly incur another large expense. Under those circumstances, your credit score could suffer.
However, the same concerns apply to the other credit cards we review in this article. In general, your credit limit will depend on your credit score and history. If you have a fair, poor, or no credit history, then you will likely be offered a limited amount of credit, at best. Therefore, your credit utilization ratio can suffer from any of these cards.
On the other hand, if your score is already low, these credit cards can help you improve your credit score by reporting your activity. You must pay on time and pay more than the minimum payment to benefit from credit bureau reporting. You can get free credit reports from the major bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com.
In a similar vein, CareCredit and all other credit cards that do a hard pull of your credit reports can temporarily hurt your credit score. Creditors perform a hard pull to read your credit reports. The effect is minimal and usually lasts no longer than a year.
Who Qualifies for Free Dental Work?
Forgoing dental care can seriously jeopardize your health. You may qualify for free dental care through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or through Medicaid, which offers free dental care for folks who are out of work or have very low incomes.
CHIP covers all enrolled children up to age 19. Medicaid coverage is offered on a state-by-state basis. Some states offer full dental care, and others offer limited dental treatments. The Veterans Administration also provides dental care for certain qualifying veterans, while offering the low-cost VA Dental Insurance Program to all veterans.
If you feel you can’t afford to see a dentist, you can seek out free dental work from several sources:
Dental schools: Dental students need hands-on practice, and most dental schools will offer reduced prices to the public. If you are unable to pay, the school may waive all charges. You may be wary of trusting student doctors with your dental health, however, they are supervised by professionals who teach the correct way to administer treatment.
D-DENT: Dentists for the Disabled and Elderly in Need of Treatment, Inc. is a 501C(3) nonprofit organization in Oklahoma comprised of dentists who offer free dental care to patients who are elderly, developmentally disabled, veterans, or special-needs persons (i.e., patients with cancer and/or awaiting transplants). You must be uninsured and have a low income to qualify. Although D-DENT is limited to Oklahomans, your state may have a similar program of free dental clinics.
Online Directories: Websites such as Tooth Wisdom, Dental Lifeline Network, America’s Dentists Care Foundation, and 211.org, list places offering reduced or free dental care throughout the country. You can find links on these websites to free dental care from dental schools, health departments, federally qualified health centers, dental hygiene programs, and dental clinics.
Mend Your Oral Health with the Right Financing
The price of dental care can be high, but the cost of neglecting your teeth can be a lifetime of disease, disfigurement, and disability. The right credit card can provide dental financing at a reduced cost. By stretching out your payments over several months at a 0% APR, the right credit card can make the difference between good and poor oral health.