3 Ways to Finance Dental Care, Even With Bad Credit
Payment plans, special credit cards, and bad credit dental loans can all help you afford the oral care you need.
It’s easy to avoid going to the dentist, especially if you don’t have a ton of extra cash to shell out for a cleaning. But avoiding the dentist can lead to a much larger bill down the line when you end up needing a filling or, worse, a full root canal.
Even with dental insurance, you’re going to end up with a very sizeable bill after a major dental procedure. At that point, the question becomes: How are you going to pay for it?
If you don’t have a lot of extra money, or if you have bad credit, you probably can’t pay for the whole thing out of pocket. Instead, you’ll have to find another way to finance your visit. Here are your options.
1. Payment plans
Many dental practices have payment plans that allow you to pay off the cost of your procedures a little bit at a time. Assuming that you cannot pay the full amount up-front, payment plans are hands down your best option for financing dental work.
These payment plans have something you won’t find with any other form of dental financing: zero percent interest. Since this isn’t a loan or a credit card, you won’t end up paying more in the long run than you would have paid up front.
Unlike a loan or a credit card, payment plans won’t be reported to the credit bureaus—unless you default on your payments and it gets sent to a collections agency. But while not having your payments count towards your credit score isn’t ideal, the zero interest is worth the trade-off.
2. Dental credit cards
This is another payment option offered by many dentist offices. It’s not as good an option as a straightforward payment plan, but it has its benefits.
Instead of letting you pay off your dental procedure a little bit at a time, the office will help you submit an application to a financing company. If you are approved, you receive a credit card that you can use to pay your bill. You then pay off the credit card through monthly payments.
With a dental credit card, your monthly payment should be pretty small, usually something like two to three percent of your total bonus plus a $10-$15 monthly minimum. If you are on an incredibly tight budget, this can give you a lot of breathing room.
But those low monthly payments have a downside. Paying only the minimum payment every month means that it could take years to pay off your full balance. And taking that long to pay off your dental procedure means paying a ton of money in interest.
That’s because, compared to regular credit cards, dental cards have a high APR. In 2017, Time.com cited a rate of 26.99 percent, which is over 10 percent more than the average credit card rate.
On the plus side, those payments will be reported to the credit bureaus, which means that it could end up helping your credit score (or hurt your score if you can’t pay). But honestly, those extra payments on your credit report aren’t worth the extra interest.
If you decide to go with a dental credit card, don’t let those low monthly payments lull you into a false sense of security. Make sure you pay more than your minimum payment every month.
It’s the same as using one of your regular credit cards—which might be preferable to using one of these dental cards, depending on whether you can fit the full cost onto your card.
With credit cards of all kinds, the more you pay every month, the more you save overall.
3. Bad credit dental loans
Dental credit cards have a much higher acceptance rate than regular credit cards—which is generally true of any store-specific card. Still, if you have bad credit, the odds that you’ll be denied for one of these cards is much higher.
In cases like this, you’ll probably have to take out a bad credit loan in order to pay for your dental work. These loans come with much higher rates than standard personal loans, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be a good financial solution.
When you’re looking for a bad credit loan to pay for dental work, make sure you steer clear of no credit check loans. These are products are offered by lenders that don’t care at all about your ability to repay your loan. In fact, they might stand to make more money if you can’t pay your loan on-time.
To learn more, check out our blog post: Payday Loan Rollover: How Short-Term Loans Turn Into Long-Term Debt.
Common no credit check loans include title loans and payday loans—which are sometimes referred to as “cash advance” loans. These are small-dollar, short-term loans that usually have to be paid back within a few weeks or a month. They have incredibly high APRs, often between 300 to 400 percent, but sometimes much higher.
They are exactly the kinds of loans you should be avoiding when looking to pay for dental work.
Instead, you should look for a bad credit installment loan that lets you pay your balance off over time. These payments will be larger than the monthly minimum on your credit card, but they’ll be much smaller than the payments for payday and title loans, which generally require that you pay the loan off all at once.
Make sure you find an installment loan that’s amortizing so that the amount you’re paying towards interest grows smaller over time. And if the lender runs a soft credit check during your application process, even better. That means that they care about your ability to repay the loan the first time, instead of just rolling it over.
Lastly, check to make sure that this lender reports payment information to the credit bureaus. If you’re going to spend a year or more making payments on your loan, you should at least get those payments added to your credit history.
After all, the best bad credit loans will help you fix your credit so that the next loan you get will come with a lower rate.
Other options for lowering the cost of dental care.
The first thing you should do is get dental insurance. It is much cheaper than medical insurance, and good a plan will dramatically lower the cost of dental care. No one loves paying their insurance bill every month, but we can guarantee that you’ll hate paying the full cost of your root canal even more.
Another option is visiting a dental school and letting the students be the ones to give you care. If that makes you a bit squeamish, well, we can’t really blame you. But they will be doing these operations under close supervision, and the cost of the whole thing will be a fraction of what you’d pay at a regular dentist.
You can even talk to your dentist about getting a discount for paying them in cash. Many businesses, including dental practices, are willing to charge less for a service in return for cash payments!
Lastly, a great way to avoid large dentist bills is … to go to the dentist regularly. Preventative care is way cheaper than restorative care, so we recommend you choose regular cleanings over the occasional root canal.
The only thing we won’t ask you do to is to floss regularly. Come on now, we’re not madmen.
To learn more about handling medical costs when you have bad credit, check out these related posts and articles from OppLoans:
- How to Finance a Medical Emergency: An OppLoans eBook
- Does Medical Debt Really Go Away After Seven Years?
- Want to Avoid No Credit Check Loans? Build an Emergency Fund
The information contained herein is provided for free and is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. We are not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law and we do not provide "credit repair" services or advice or assistance regarding "rebuilding" or "improving" your credit. Articles provided in connection with this blog are general in nature, provided for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for individualized professional advice. We make no representation that we will improve or attempt to improve your credit record, history, or rating through the use of the resources provided through the OppLoans blog.