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How to Finance Pet Medical Care

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When you have a pet, your animal becomes part of the family. That's why you may find yourself in a tough situation when your furry friend gets sick. After all, you want your family member to get the best care possible, but unfortunately this can sometimes come at a very big price tag.

The bad news is these procedures can cost tens of thousands of dollars, leaving you wondering how to finance the costs of care.

Here are a few possible sources of financing worth considering when you need to pay for emergency vet care.

Personal loans

Personal loans are a great solution to pay for your pet's care and will likely be cheaper than the standard rate on a credit card.

A few benefits of personal loans include:

  • You can get a personal loan in amounts from $1,000 to $50,000+.
  • With some lenders, you can receive money the same day you're approved.
  • You'll pay it off in a set timeline, with set monthly payments.
  • Personal loans generally have lower interest rate than credit cards.

You do not have to specifically seek out an emergency loan that's marketed for vet care expenditures, although such loans do exist. Personal loan lenders don't care what you use borrowed funds for after your loan is approved. So you can apply with any personal loan lender and get the money you need to provide care.

You can use the calculator below to determine the monthly payment on a personal loan. Experiment with different loan terms and amounts to find one that works with your budget.

Financing pet medical care: Personal loan calculator
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Credit cards

Most veterinary offices take credit cards, so you could charge your pet's care if you can't pay for it directly. But credit cards often have very high interest rates -- unless you qualify for a card with a special 0% promotional APR.

If you can qualify for a 0% intro APR credit card and can pay the card back before the promotional rate expires, this can be a very affordable way to pay for your animal's care.

But if you can't qualify for a 0% rate, or if you can't pay off the card before your rate would expire, then you should generally consider a personal loan instead.

CareCredit

CareCredit is a credit card specifically intended to pay for healthcare needs, including medical services for animals. More than 200,000 locations nationwide accept CareCredit, but check with your chosen vet to find out if they are a participating provider.

While CareCredit's standard APR is high at 26.99%, it has certain financing options that are much more affordable. You may be able to qualify for a deferred interest plan if you're paying $200 or more for your pet's care. With a deferred interest plan, interest starts accruing from day one but you aren't charged the interest if you pay off the balance during the promotional period -- which usually lasts 6, 12, 18, or 24 months.

CareCredit also has other lower-interest options for longer-term loans when borrowing larger sums. If you borrow $1,000 or more, you could be eligible for a 24-, 36-, 48-, or 60-month loan at a 14.9% APR. Or if you borrow $2,500 or more, you could be eligible for a loan with a 60-month payment plan at 16.9% APR.

If your vet is a participating vet, you can often apply for CareCredit right at the vet's office. Just make sure you've confirmed this is actually the most affordable source of financing for you. And be aware that if you opt for a deferred interest loan, you could owe a fortune in interest if you fail to repay what you've borrowed on time.

Pet insurance

If you have a pet insurance policy and get insurance to cover your pet's care, this is ideal. Unfortunately, you'll need to have a pet insurance plan in place before your pet gets sick. Pet insurers can and do exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. So if your animal already needs medical care, you will not be able to buy a policy and get covered after the need has arisen.

If you do buy pet insurance, make sure you know how your policy works. Find out if there are limits on what the insurer will spend per condition or in your pet's lifetime. Also make sure to see if you'll have to pay up front and get reimbursed afterwards for the bills. Many pet insurance policies are structured this way, but it can be a challenge to come up with thousands of dollars of cash to pay for treatment up front, even if you will get reimbursed through your insurer eventually.

What's the right approach to pay for your pet's medical care?

Ultimately, every pet owner needs to determine what financing approach is best based on the costs of care and the options available. If you don't have pet insurance and want an affordable source of financing with a set repayment schedule, a personal loan can be a great approach to cover your pet's costs and get your animal companion back on the road to good health.

RELATED: How Does Pet Insurance Work?

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