The three primary dental financing options are personal loans, practice payment plans, and credit cards. Each has unique pros and cons.
However, a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) offers the best deal in town – if you have access at work. An FSA provides below zero interest dental financing to bad credit patients without a credit check.
Learn about this alternative plan before taking on additional debt.
- Personal loans allow you to choose any provider
- Local dentists with payment plans refer to third party companies
- Credit cards have hidden surprises after the promotional period ends
Personal Loans for Dental Work
Personal loans are the first dental financing option to explore. They work differently than a medical loan or patient-financing program that sends the funding directly to the practice and locks you into a single provider.
If approved, the lender sends the funds directly to you the patient. This puts you in control to shop around for the most affordable dentist – rather than one that “accepts payments.” That rarely happens anyway.
No Credit Check
Personal loans for dental care without a credit check are possible for people with no history on their consumer report. Many young adults find themselves in this position when they have yet to establish a record of prompt payment.
Many specialty online companies will make decisions based on income only in these situations. This means the first-time borrower must have a job, the ability to verify employment, and a bank account to facilitate repayment. Be prepared with this information.
- Loan reason: medical
- Employer name, address, phone number
- Bank account and routing number
Financial assistance programs can sometimes make oral care more affordable for people who do not qualify to borrow money. Save every penny that you can.
Bad credit personal loans for dental care require patients to work with a specialty company. People with a history of delinquency on their consumer report have low scores and a high probability of future default.
Most banks do not approve bad credit borrowers. However, online subprime lenders structure their businesses to fund a greater percentage of these requests. If approved, expect the company to compensate for greater default risk in three possible ways.
- Higher interest rates
- Bigger origination fees
- Insurance premiums
Discount plans have no waiting period and accept all consumers with negative history and poor scores. Make your extensive oral care more affordable without fear of a company turning down your application.
Flexible spending accounts (FSA) offer interest-free loans for dental care to people who have access to this employee benefits program at their job. You cannot participate in an FSA as an individual.
Flexible spending accounts offer an interest-free medical loan from your employer. Bad credit and no history employees can participate without a credit check. This is how it works.
- Choose to contribute to the FSA during the annual open enrollment
- Schedule your procedure during the first month of the FSA plan year
- Your employer must immediately reimburse any qualifying expense
- You have up to 52 weeks to repay your employer using pre-tax payroll deductions
- Pre-tax money yields a better than an interest-free rate
- Federal income tax savings begin at 10%
- FICA tax savings average 7.65%
- State income tax savings vary
Cosmetic procedures are not tax deductible under IRS rules and ineligible for FSA reimbursement.
Dental Payment Plans
Local dentists with payments plans are the second dental financing option to explore. However, offices are experts in oral care (filling cavities, extracting teeth, and fixing smiles). Most practices have no experience or desire to pull consumer reports, send out collection notices, and cut off delinquent patients.
Therefore, most dentists refer customers to a third-party finance company who does the dirty work. If approved, the company sends the funding to the practice, not the patient. This puts the office in control.
Dentures & Veneers
Payment plans for braces and implants are viable because of the extended treatment time. Meanwhile, most patients will need to find an alternative method to fund the upfront fees for bridges, crowns, dentures, veneers, or lumineers because an outside lab is involved.
- Orthodontic braces take 24 months to complete on average. Many orthodontists accept installments over time to match the services they perform (evaluation, installation, adjustments, removal, retainer) at each stage. They rarely ask for all the funds upfront.
- Dental implants involve significant healing time between each treatment phase: extraction, bone grafting, root replacement surgery, and abutment insertion. Many oral surgeons will accept installments at each step rather than all upfront.
- Replacement teeth such as dentures, bridges, crowns, and cosmetic veneers, or lumineers often require a third party laboratory to manufacture the restorative devices. Therefore, expect the prosthodontist to require upfront funding for these services.
No Credit Check
You are unlikely to find local dentists offering payment plans without a credit check. Now you are asking the practice to provide extensive oral care to any person who walked through the door – regardless of their history or ability to pay for services over time.
It would be foolish to provide upfront treatment without a credit check first. The practice would attract the wrong crowd and set themselves up for failure – lost revenue from customers defaulting on installment plans.
No credit check loan companies are better suited to meet your needs.
You may not want a local dentist offering payment plans to people with bad credit to fix your teeth. The practice would be too busy sending out collection notices and chasing down patients for money. Only those offices desperate for business would take on risky customers.
Offices cannot stay in business by allowing customers with bad credit to pay for extensive dental work over time. They might never see the money from these high-risk patients.
Credit Cards for Dental Expenses
Credit cards are the third dental financing option to explore. Most offices are happy to swipe or insert your chip-imbedded plastic card into their reader as compensation in full for services. You pay back the bank over time each month.
People with existing accounts with open to buy (limit minus the outstanding balance) are set to go. Patients needing to open a new account will find that zero interest promotional offers have a hidden downside, and borrowers with poor history and low scores rarely find any help.
Dental credit cards for bad credit do not offer much value to patients. Banks who approve accounts for borrowers with negative history and low scores protect themselves in one of two ways. Neither approach helps pay for oral care.
- Secured credit cards require members to keep money in a checking or savings account. The spending limit equals the amount held at the bank. They are useful for building a positive history at the reporting agencies. However, they do not expand your ability to pay for oral care.
- Unsecured credit cards have tiny spending limits. The bank minimizes losses by declining any transactions that take the outstanding balance above the ceiling. A small limit has little utility in paying for expensive oral care.
Supplemental dental insurance will approve all applicants regardless of negative history or low risk score. Purchase a cosmetic rider to help pay for veneers, lumineers, and similar services.
Credit cards just for dental care often offer a promotional zero interest period. Members have 6 to 12 months to retire the balance in full. This is appealing if you have the cash flow to make it work.
However, anyone with a positive balance at the end of the introductory period is in for a nasty surprise. The contract may call for them to pay extremely high rates of interest based on the opening balance – not the remainder still open.
Read the fine print on the contract before charging any oral care expenses to the card.