Even the healthiest pets can get injured or sick and when that happens, you might need to seek out veterinary care. However, veterinary treatments can be quite costly, and you may need help to pay vet bills.
Fortunately, there are multiple veterinary financing options you can choose from, such as credit cards or personal loans, and there are even pet loans for bad credit or vet financing with no credit check to help you cover vet visit costs.
Here’s everything you need to know about veterinary financing:
- What is veterinary financing?
- Can you get veterinary financing for bad credit?
- What are my options for veterinary financing?
- How does veterinary financing compare to pet insurance?
- Do vets do payment plans?
- What vets accept payment plans near me?
What is veterinary financing?
Veterinary financing is borrowing money from a bank or lending institution to pay for your pet’s treatment at the vet, which could otherwise cost thousands of dollars out-of-pocket.** **It is generally intended to cover emergency vet visits and expensive pet surgeries, although some providers allow you to finance the purchase of a pet.
Just like with personal loans, there’s an application process for veterinary financing. The lending institution will review your financial information and credit history to see whether you qualify for a loan. If you do qualify, the lender will decide on the terms, including the interest rate and spending limit.
If you are seeking financing for veterinary care/services, you should be aware that these loans come with a fixed term, which means that you have to repay them within a set period of time. The rest of the terms will vary depending on the lender and your financial situation.
Veterinary financing is different from veterinary business loans, which can make sure that veterinary practitioners have the capital they need to start or expand a practice. There are also pet loans for the purchase of a puppy or kitten, which are actually customer financing programs offered by pet stores so that their customers can get the pet they want and pay them off in a few years or less.
Can you get veterinary financing for bad credit?
Yes, some pet financing companies offer pet loans for bad credit and/or will approve vet financing with no credit check.
Typically, credit card issuers and lenders look at the credit score, positive payment history, and debt-to-income ratio in order to decide whether you qualify for pet financing and to determine your terms.** **However, some companies don’t have a minimum credit score requirement, so any pet owner is welcome to apply no matter how their credit is doing.
It should be noted, however, that veterinary financing for bad credit can have an extremely high APR, so be sure to look for ones you can pay off quickly.
What are my options for veterinary financing?
As mentioned before, pet financing can be structured like a credit card for vet bills while others provide one lump-sum loan.
Credit cards allow you to pay interest on only what you borrow. They have revolving balances, which means that you only pay back what you spend. Credit cards usually come with higher APRs, though some consumers might qualify for a 0% promotional financing period.
Personal loans, on the other hand, are lump-sum loans that are repaid over an agreed-upon period of time. They have fixed monthly payments and APRs, but their APRs are also higher for borrowers with credit scores below 640.
You can use any credit card or personal loan to cover pet-related expenses, but there are certain credit card issuers and lenders that specialize in veterinary financing. Here are some options to consider:
CareCredit veterinary financing is a healthcare credit card that offers no interest on purchases of $200 for 6, 12, 18, or 24-month periods, as well as reduced APR long-term financing. Unfortunately, CareCredit for pets may only work with certain veterinary providers.
LendingUSA vet bill financing offers a line of loans specifically for pet owners at an introductory 0% APR. It also charges no prepayment penalties and no interest rate penalties. However, the lender does not pre-approve loans without a hard credit pull, meaning it may impact your credit score.
Scratchpay medical financing for pets offers four different loan products: a 90-day loan with 0% APR, 12-month loan, 24-month loan, and “Take 5” (pay 20% down the day that you sign on with the plan, then make four additional payments of 20% each due every two weeks). However, Scratchpay requires applicants to have a credit score above 580. The lender also charges fees on late payments and payments that are less than the full amount due.
A Credova pet financing plan may provide veterinary financing with bad credit**. There are several different programs to choose from, each with low monthly payments and no hard credit inquiry, so applying won't affect your credit score. However, financing is available to a maximum amount of $6,500.
The iCare veterinary financing program approves borrowers for veterinary financing with no credit check**. It's important to note that this healthcare credit card is not insurance. It is simply a way to finance large vet bills over a long period of time.
How does veterinary financing compare to pet insurance?
People typically turn to financing when they can't afford veterinary bills and need a solution.
Pet insurance is one of the most popular tools used by pet owners to proactively lower pet medical costs. But how does it compare to pet financing?
Coverage for pre-existing conditions
When comparing pet insurance and veterinary financing, you can use the latter to pay for the treatment of any pre-existing conditions your pet might have, which is something no insurance company will provide coverage for.
Requires credit approval
Another downside of veterinary financing as a pet insurance alternative is that it requires credit approval. Every credit card issuer and lender has different requirements. Generally speaking, they will look at your income, debt, credit history, and other indicators to determine if you qualify. Pet insurance is accessible to any pet owner who is able to spare a small sum of money each month, regardless of their credit score.
Initial vet bill can increase over time
Because most veterinary financing comes with interest rates, your initial vet bill can increase over time. For instance, if you take out a $1,500 loan at a 5.99% APR and repay it over a period of three years, you might pay back a total of $1,643. In other words, having the opportunity to pay your veterinary bill over three years could cost you an additional $143 in interest fees.
Deferred out-of-pocket costs
Veterinary financing offers deferred out-of-pocket costs, but you might have to pay interest on top of the principal balance, leading to a larger bill in the long run. Pet insurance, on the other hand, follows a reimbursement-based model. This means that when you take your pet to the vet, you pay the vet bill at the time of service and then file a claim for reimbursement.
Can only be used at vets that accept payment plans
As mentioned earlier, pet financing options may only work with certain veterinary providers. Most pet insurance providers, on the other hand, allow policyholders to use the services of any licensed vet in the US. Some pet insurance providers (like Pets Best, Trupanion, and Figo) also cover pets in Canada and Puerto Rico, whereas others (like Nationwide) cover pets worldwide.
Do vets do payment plans?
Not all vets offer payment plans, but some do. Some veterinarians are willing to negotiate payment plans depending on the customer's needs. If you are eligible for a payment plan, you may be able to spread out your payments into installments over the course of several months.
The difference between in-house installment plans vs lending money from a financial institution is that the former offers interest-free payments. This gives pet owners better value for money than using a bank loan or credit card.
What vets accept payment plans near me?
Pawlicy Advisor has a search tool that helps you quickly find a directory of “vets near me”, complete with hours of operation, office locations, and contact information to find vets that accept financing.
While there’s no guarantee that you will find a veterinarian that accepts payment plans in your area, pet insurance can be used anywhere because it reimburses you instead of paying the veterinarian. This means that your pet health insurance will work at any licensed veterinarian or animal hospital across the States and you don't need to worry about being "in-network".
Pawlicy can also help pet parents compare and buy pet insurance to ensure the best pet care and help lower the cost of covered vet bills in the future.