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Emergency room visits or even elective medical procedures are inevitable for most people. While many medical bills are expensive, you might get an early pay discount or make a payment plan. The best credit cards can give you rewards and provide flexible repayment terms for your hospital visits. Here are a few things to look out for as well as any cards you might consider.

best credit cards for medical bills
Use the best credit cards for medical bills so you can get necessary checkups and treatment. A health care provider and patient consult on influenza vaccine options in 2017. Credit: CDC

Lump-Sum or Hospital Payment Plans?

It can take several days or weeks to get all of the medical bills for a hospital trip. Most medical providers accept credit card payments and won’t charge the 3% card processing fee. You might get a discount if you pay the entire balance upfront.

The size of the medical bill, your current financial health, and your payment plan options help you decide to pay it all upfront. If you choose the lump sum method, you can easily qualify for a limited-time credit card signup bonus with a high minimum spend.

Best Credit Cards for Medical Bills

If you choose an interest-free monthly payment plan (or choose a lump sum), you can try these credit cards too. Keep reading to learn more.

Citi Double Cash Card

The Citi Double Cash earns up to 2% back on every dollar you spend. Cardholders earn 1% back when they buy plus the other 1% back when they pay. There is no limit to how much can be earned.

Most fixed cash back cards only award up to 1.5% back. You can redeem your rewards for cash statement credit, paper check, or bank deposits. There is no annual fee but this card also doesn’t have a signup bonus.

Related: Best cash back credit cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Another top-notch travel credit card is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Medical bills and other non-bonus purchases earn 1 point per $1. You earn 2 points per $1 on travel and dining purchases.

Each point is worth 25% more (1.25 cents) when booking award travel through Chase or transfer at a 1:1 ratio to hotel and airline partners. You can redeem them for 1 cent each for cash redemptions and gift cards.

The current Chase Sapphire Preferred® signup bonus is 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards worth $1000 in award travel. You earn the bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Some valuable travel and partner benefits include:

The annual fee is $95.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® earns at least 1.5% back (1.5 Ultimate Rewards per $1) on all purchases. New cardholders can earn $200 bonus cash after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. You also earn 5% back on the first $12,000 you spend at grocery stores (not including Target or Walmart purchases) in the first 12 months.

Cardholders also earn unlimited:

  • 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 3% cash back at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery services
  • 3% cash back on drugstore purchases
  • 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

There is no annual fee with the Chase Freedom Unlimited.

Each Ultimate Rewards point is worth 1 cent each for award travel and cash rewards. You can also combine them with your Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred balance for a travel redemption bonus or 1:1 transfers.

Related: Best Credit Cards for Groceries

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One Venture Card is one of the best travel rewards credit cards as it’s easy to earn and redeem miles. You earn 2 miles per $1 on all purchases and can redeem them for travel statement credits. Uber Eats purchases earn 5 miles per $1 through January 31, 2021.

The signup bonus is 50,000 bonus Venture miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. This bonus is worth $500 is travel rewards. You also get a fee credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The annual fee is $95.

Learn more: Rewards Credit Cards

Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express

The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is a good card for daily purchases including medical bills. You earn up to 6% cash back on purchase redeemable for statement credits.

  • 6% back at US supermarkets (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1% back)
  • 6% back on select US streaming services
  • 3% back on transit
  • 3% back at US gas stations
  • 1% back on everything else

Your welcome bonus is $300 cash back after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. If you need it, the purchase APR is 0% for the first 12 months. The annual fee is $95 and $0 for secondary cards (See Rates & Fees).

Related: Best Gas Credit Cards

American Express Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card helps you maximize dining, grocery, and travel purchases:

  • 4x Membership Rewards at US supermarkets (on the first $25,000 per year, then 1x points)
  • 4x points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • 3x points on flights you book at AmexTravel.com
  • 1x points for all remaining purchases

In addition to these purchase rewards, the welcome offer is 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards ($500 value) by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

You also get an annual $100 airline fee credit and up to $120 in yearly dining credits ($10 per month). Your dining credit can cover Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, select Shake Shack locations and Cheesecake Factory purchases.

Your Amex Membership Rewards points are most valuable for booking award flights and select gift cards. You can also transfer them at a 1:1 ratio for airlines and hotels.

The annual fee is $250 (See Rates & Fees).

Southwest Airlines Credit Cards

Southwest Airlines can be one of the best airlines to fly in 2020 for the competitive prices on domestic flights and Caribbean flights. Your medical bills can help you earn a signup bonus which counts towards earning the Companion Pass.

These Southwest Airlines credit cards have a signup bonus of up to 40,000 Rapid Rewards. You can earn the full bonus by spending $1,000 in the first 3 months:

Each card earns 2 Rapid Rewards per $1 on Southwest Airlines and Rapid Rewards partner purchases. All non-bonus spending earns 1 point per $1.

Each card has various anniversary point bonuses and other “fringe benefits.” The most luxurious of these three cards is the Priority Card including a $75 annual Southwest credit and four Upgraded Bookings per year. Its annual fee is a reasonable $149 per year.

Summary of the Best Credit Cards for Medical Bills

Medical bills you must pay for out-of-pocket are not automatic high-interest debt balances. The best rewards credit cards can help you earn bonus points and avoid crazy interest rates that medical loans charge. These cards can also help you maximize your other daily purchases.

FAQs

Which credit card is best for hospital bills?

The best credit card for hospital bills and related medical expenses can be a cash back card like the Citi Double Cash. This card earns up to 2% cash back on every purchase and there is no annual fee. Cardholders earn 1% back when they buy, plus 1% back when they pay for their purchases. Most credit cards only offer 1 point per $1 on medical bills as they are a “non-bonus purchase category.”

However, the best credit card may also be one with the most exciting signup bonus that you can use. It might be a travel credit card or a cash rewards credit card. Making a lump-sum payment can help you easily reach the $3,000, $4,000, or $5,000 three-month minimum spending requirement.

You might inspect these limited-time credit card offers to find an amazing opportunity.

Is it smart to pay bills with a credit card?

Using your credit card to pay bills is a good option when your purchase rewards are worth more than any transaction fees. Government agencies and some small businesses charge an approximate 3% processing fee. But most businesses no longer charge an extra processing fee.

You might also use your credit card to pay bills if you can earn a signup or welcome bonus. Even if you pay processing charges, the signup bonus value usually exceeds these add-on charges.

Also, you should only use your credit card when you can pay the monthly statement balance in full and avoid interest charges.

Can I pay off my credit card as soon as I use it?

Most credit cards require you to wait at least one business day after the transaction date to pay your credit card. It takes one or two days for the purchase to “post” and verify that you made a legit purchase. For instance, gas stations, hotels, and rental car agencies may only place a temporary hold on your card until the final purchase amount posts. Not being able to make instant payments prevents payment confusion.

Paying your credit card balance before the statement closing date has some benefits. The primary benefit is you keep your credit utilization ratio low to boost your credit score. A second benefit is that you’re less likely to accidentally spend your checking account balance on another purchase and carry a high-interest credit card balance.

Related Articles:

For rates and fees of The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of The American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

Josh Patoka
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