RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – If you need an expensive medical procedure, you may be thinking of applying for a Medical Credit card. Depending on your financial situation, the card could be beneficial -- but consumer experts say if you don't do your research, you could end up in a financial trap.
For LeeAnn Evans, a medical credit card works, she says, "I normally do my research on my credit cards." For her, it's a financial benefit. "At the time I knew I needed major dental work done and I had not idea how I was going to afford it so I said hey, why not try this card see what happens."
The medical cards work pretty much like your typical credit card -- the big difference is that these cards are restricted to medical procedures or visits to the emergency room.
Evans says, "I decided to apply for it because I always need different things done that come up, like dental work or dermatology work or the veterinarian, you never know you have an animal when something may arise."
It works for her but Financial Advisor, Patrick Owens, with Clear Point Credit Counseling Solutions says, medical cards are not for everyone.
He says, "I would advise the consumer to look at all their options, if they do enter into a medical credit card they need to make sure they read the entire contract of what they are going into."
Owens says one big attraction to the medical credit cards is the zero percent interest teaser rates. Evans says it got her to sign up. "What attracted me about the card was the fact that you could pay it off within a certain amount of time like six months you wouldn't be charged interest," she explained.
It sounds good -- but financial expert say if you can't finish the payments on time -- prepare for the interest -- you could end up with a financial headache.
Owens says, "Keep communication open with the doctor at the hospital that you are going to. Most of them may even work out a long term payment plan and even if they charge interest, it will be far less than that low to upper 20's that would happen once that zero percent finance is over."
A rule of thumb, read the fine print and if you don't understand, ask lot of questions. Like with any card, falling behind on payments can damage your credit score.
Owens tells us, "Once that balance goes on to the card and they sign that contract that is it, they are stuck with that account and they are going to have work through it the best they can."
Evans advises, "Make sure you are going to be able to pay your bill, that is the main important thing and if it is not going to work for you maybe you should try another method."
Linda is happy with her experience -- but says don't base your decision on her -- do your research. Another thing to keep in mind, not every health organization will accept medical credit cards.