Going to the dentist causes anxiety for a lot of people as it is, and it’s even worse if you leave with a hefty bill due to necessary dental care. If you need to finance dental work, there are several options available to consider and compare, such as personal loans, credit cards, and payment plans. The best option for you will likely depend on your credit score and how much funding you need, as well as how fast you need it.
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What is dental financing?
Dental financing can help cover dental care or procedures not covered by insurance. This financing comes in a variety of forms, such as loans, credit cards, lines of credit, or payment plans from your dentist.
How do dental loans work?
Dental loans are a type of unsecured personal loan. if you decide to pursue a dental loan, you’ll research personal loan lenders and compare interest rate, terms, and conditions. Then, you’ll apply for the loan and if approved, receive funding.
You can then use the dental loan funds to pay for the dental procedure and expenses. Then, you’ll start making monthly payments on the dental loan, plus interest, until it’s completely paid off.
Types of dental financing
If you need help paying for dental care, there are a a number of options to consider:
1. Personal line of credit
A personal line of credit gives you quick access to cash from a lender. You can get a personal line of credit from various financial institutions such as banks, credit unions, and online lenders. However, instead of receiving it as a lump sum as you would with a loan, you’ll make withdrawals from a revolving line of credit as needed. This is like having a credit card, but the line of credit is only available for a certain time period, known as your draw period. You’d then pay interest on the amount you withdraw. This may be beneficial if you have ongoing dental work or undefined costs.
However, because personal lines of credit are typically unsecured, they can come with higher interest rates, typically between 9% and 18%. Additionally, those interest rates are often variable, which means you may end up paying a higher or lower interest rate over the course of the draw period. That said, some lenders offer competitive, fixed rates on personal lines of credit, so always do your research to find the best terms.
Learn more: What is a Personal Line of Credit?
2. Personal loan
Personal loans can be used for just about anything, including medical and dental bills. Typically, personal loans are unsecured, meaning there’s no collateral necessary to back the loan. When you apply for a personal loan, the lender will look at your credit score, history, income, and other factors to determine your interest rate, loan term, and monthly payment. Rates are fixed and range from 4% to 36%, depending on these factors. After receiving the funds to cover your dental care, you’ll then need to make the monthly payments on the loan until it is paid off in full.
With a personal loan, it’s important to know exactly how much money you need to borrow so that you don’t take out more than you need or can afford. In order to know this, you may need to contact your insurance provider to understand what is covered and what is not.
Compare: Best Personal Loans
3. Dental loan
Dental loans, a special type of personal loan, are an option designed specifically to pay for dental bills. While personal loans can be used for just about anything, including medical costs, some lenders offer loans specifically made for dental work. These loans may have lower interest rates or term lengths, and differing borrowing amounts, so they may be a better option than regular personal loans for dental work. However, it’s important to compare interest rates on dental loans with those of personal loans, which range from 4% to 36%, to find the best rate.
It’s also important to know that some dental loans are designed for specific procedures, such as cosmetic dentistry, so be sure to know what your procedure is and how it’s classified before shopping for a dental loan.
4. Medical credit cards
Medical credit cards are credit cards designed specifically for paying for medical treatments, including dental procedures. While like a regular credit card, these cards can only be used to pay for healthcare and medical bills. They can also only be used within a specific network of providers that accept the card, so you’ll want to do research to understand if your dentist is in the card’s network before applying.
If approved for the card, you’ll use it to pay the provider for your dental care. Then, just like a regular credit card, you’ll owe the credit card company and make monthly payments to pay off the balance. Also, like regular credit cards, medical credit cards come with high-interest rates, typically around 26.99% APR. That said, some companies offer promotional periods of anywhere from 6-24 months, during which, if you pay off your balance in full, you won’t owe interest.
5. Intro 0% APR credit card
In some cases, you may want to use a regular credit card instead of a medical credit card to cover dental expenses. For instance, if your dentist isn’t in the medical card’s provider network. However, this may only be smart if you can qualify for a credit card that offers a 0% APR introductory period, which are only available to people with excellent credit.
If you do qualify for a 0% APR card, you won’t owe any interest on your card’s balance during the intro period, as long as you make the monthly payments on time. Typically, this promotional period lasts 12 to 21 months. During this time, you’d be able to finance your dental care interest-free. However, be sure to pay off the full balance before the introductory period ends. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying interest on the remaining balance, and the regular interest rates typically exceed 20%.
Learn more: Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates
How to qualify for a dental loan?
A great to excellent credit score (670+) is required to get the best interest rate on any type of dental financing. You’ll likely also need to prove a steady income and have a solid credit history. To qualify, follow these steps:
for the best lender
Fill out an application
Can I get a dental loan with bad credit?
Having poor credit can make it more challenging to get dental financing, but it’s not impossible. Typically, a poor credit score is considered 580 or lower. While there are lenders out there that will work with borrowers with bad credit, the interest rates are typically much higher—36% rather than 9%—meaning you’ll end up owing much more than you originally borrowed. That said, having a cosigner with good credit on the loan can significantly lower the interest rate.
If you have poor credit, another good option is to talk to your dental provider about financing options. They may be able to set up a payment plan with better rates than if you worked with an outside lender.
Pros and cons of dental loans for bad credit
|No collateral required||More difficult to get approved|
|Can help build credit||High interest rates|
|Dental provider may have better options||Terms not as favorable|
How to get a dental loan?
To get a dental loan, take the following steps:
- Check your credit score. Review your credit score and credit report and be sure the information is accurate, complete, and your score is high enough to qualify you for lower interest rates and better loan terms.
- Compare your options. Research available lenders, including your own dentist’s financing options or lenders your dentist may be partnered with. Find ones that offer loan terms and amounts you’re looking for and that you qualify for with your credit score. Then, compare interest rates and customer service reviews.
- Get prequalified. Where possible, get prequalified for a loan of your desired amount. This won’t affect your credit score but will give you a more personalized estimate of the loan amount, monthly payments, and interest rate you’d qualify for, helping you compare options easier.
- Submit an application. Once you find the lender that’s right for you, submit a loan application. You’ll be asked to provide personal information and documentation proving things like income. Online applications typically only take a few minutes.
- Sign loan agreement and receive funds. After your application is approved, which can take minutes with an online lender or a few days at traditional banks, you’ll have to review and sign the loan agreement. Read the terms and conditions carefully before accepting. When the loan agreement is signed, the lender will deposit the funds into your bank account, typically within one to two business days.
- Repay the loan. You must start repaying your loan right away. Late or missed payments could result in fees or penalties and damage to your credit score. If you can, set up automatic payments to ensure you never miss one.
Is dental financing a good idea?
Dental financing can be a good idea to cover essential or emergency procedures not covered by insurance. It will be the most beneficial for people who have good credit and a steady income to repay the loan on time. Otherwise, you may have to pay fees or penalties and risk defaulting on the loan and damaging your credit.
It’s also worth looking into alternative insurance plans that will cover the care you need now and in the future. If you are looking into dental financing to cover elective procedures, which typically aren’t covered by insurance, you might consider how long you can wait to have these procedures and if you can save up for them instead.
What to know before applying for a dental loan?
Dental work is expensive, especially if it’s not covered by dental insurance. But even with dental insurance, procedures may cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. To care for your dental health, you may need to explore financing options.
Before applying for a loan, make sure the procedure is necessary. For example, you may want to get a second opinion from another provider. Additionally, you might consider obtaining the care from a local dental school where it can cost much less.
If you do pursue a loan, you’ll want to compare lenders carefully and understand the terms, conditions, interest, fees, and other loan factors before applying or committing to financing. If you have time, take steps to improve your credit score (if necessary) to try to get better interest rates and loan terms.
Pros and cons of dental loans
Pros Cons Fast funding Fees Unsecured (no collateral) High interest rates with bad credit Lower interest rates with excellent credit Can lower credit score Loans specifically made for dental/medical needs Smaller loan amounts Can help build credit
Can work directly with your dentist
|Unsecured (no collateral)||High interest rates with bad credit|
|Lower interest rates with excellent credit||Can lower credit score|
|Loans specifically made for dental/medical needs||Smaller loan amounts|
|Can help build credit|
|Can work directly with your dentist|
Alternatives to dental financing
Whether you don’t qualify for financing due to your credit score or you want to explore alternatives to dental financing, there are other ways to pay for the care that you want or need.
1. Use your dental insurance
If you have dental insurance, it may cover some of your care if you see an in-network dental provider. If you need a procedure done, start by looking at your dental coverage to understand what is and isn’t covered and at what percentage you will personally be responsible for. Then, find a dentist that’s in the provider network, meaning they will be covered at a higher rate. You can do this online or by contacting your insurance company.
While most insurance companies won’t cover dental procedures 100%, using your insurance and an in-network dentist can help lower your bill.
2. Shop for less expensive care
Whether you have dental insurance or not, ask your dental provider how much your procedure would cost out-of-pocket. If the procedure is not an emergency, you may be able to shop around different providers for cheaper alternatives and begin saving up to cover the cost.
As with other types of medical bills, you may be able to negotiate the total cost of your bill with your dentist prior to receiving treatment. If you know you can only pay a part of the bill, start by doing research to find out the local going rate for the treatment you need and negotiate a lower bill if your dentist is charging more.
You can also ask for discounts, such as a discount for paying cash up front, or monthly payment plans.
4. Borrow from friends or family
If you feel comfortable, you might consider borrowing the funds from friends or family members. However, be sure you can repay the borrowed funds within a reasonable period. Otherwise, you may risk damaging the relationship. It’s also smart to put all terms, such as any payment plan and how long you have to repay them, in writing.
You could also ask a friend or family member to cosign a personal loan with you, which can help increase your chances of getting approved and getting a lower interest rate.
How do I use a dental loan?
Dental loans can be used for just about any type of dental work, including emergent or cosmetic procedures. For example, dental loan funds can be used for:
- Cleaning, X-rays, or a dental exam
- Resin composite fillings
- Root canal
- Teeth whitening
- Braces or Invisalign
Where to get dental loans?
Dental loans or personal loans for dental expenses can be found at most lenders, such as banks and other financial institutions. You can also check with your dentist to learn about any financing options they offer directly.
Who are dental loans best for?
Dental loans are best for people who need to have a dental procedure done and don’t have the savings or emergency funds to cover the expense. Dental loans are a type of debt, so it’s important to only consider a dental loan or dental financing if you don’t have another option.
These loans can be used for either necessary or cosmetic procedures. However, it’s important to have great to excellent credit, a good credit history, and a steady income to ensure you get the best interest rate, loan amount, and loan term possible. Above all, it’s critical you’re able to repay the loan on time to avoid any fees and penalties or damage to your credit history.
When should I get a dental loan?
You should get a dental loan if:
- You need financing to cover a necessary or cosmetic dental procedure(s).
- You have an excellent credit score and can qualify for low interest rates.
- You have a steady income that will cover your monthly payments.
- You’ve considered all your financing options.
- You’ve compared lenders to find one that’s best for you.
What to consider when choosing a dental loan lender?
To decide which lender is best for you, compare factors such as:
Borrowers with lower credit scores may be charged higher interest rates, but rates vary from lender to lender.
When using a personal loan to cover dental bills, the loan term ranges between one and seven years. Remember, longer terms mean smaller monthly payments, but it also means you’ll accrue more in interest and end up paying more over time. Shorter terms have higher monthly payments but you’ll owe less over time.
Many lenders don’t offer loans for under $600. If you need a small loan amount, you might consider using a medical credit card or asking your care provider about a payment plan.
Check the origination fees and any monthly charges you’ll incur during the life of the loan. Use those as a comparison point between lenders. Also be sure to compare the loan’s minimum requirements, like minimum credit score or income.
How do I apply for a dental loan?
Once you’ve chosen the lender and calculated the loan amount you need, fill out the loan application (either online or in person). You will need the following documentation in physical or digital format:
Valid State Driver’s
License or State ID
Proof of current
Valid checking account
for direct debits
W2 or 1099
The lender will then run a credit check. This will result in a “hard inquiry” on your credit report that might drop your credit score by a few points for a short period of time. However, your score will increase over time as long as you make all your monthly payments on time. After reviewing your application, the lender will approve or deny the loan.
Yes, some dentists do offer financing, or they may partner with a lender to offer dental loans. Ask your dentist about the financing options they have available and review the terms and conditions to understand when payments are due and whether or not you will be charged interest.
Dental loans can be used for any necessary or cosmetic dental procedures you may want or need, such as X-rays, exams, cleanings, braces, fillings, root canals, veneers, dentures, and more.
Not all dental plans are the same, so you’ll want to check with your insurance provider to understand what is and isn’t covered. However, generally, elective treatments aren’t typically covered, such as cosmetic dentistry (like teeth whitening) or other procedures such as orthodontics or dentures.