The Best Credit Cards for Pet Expenses

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Americans are spending more and more on their pets every year, according to the American Pet Products Association. This year, the association estimates spending will rise to $69.36 billion (up from $66.75 billion in 2016), $16.62 billion of which will go toward veterinarian care (up from $15.95 billion). That means owners may need to prepare to spend more money for their furry family members.

Some vets don’t offer a payment plan directly through their billing office, so applying for a credit card might be your best option to pay for your pet’s medical bills and other expenses (outside of using your savings, borrowing the money from family and friends or crowdsourcing the funds).
The older your pets get, the more likely it is they’ll need medical care, so planning ahead with a pet card can be a good idea. As much as pet owners can try to predict how much they’ll spend on their loved one, it really is impossible to know.

Is a pet-specific credit card a good idea?

A credit card designed for pet health care costs may sound like a great idea, but the truth is, there aren’t many of them. CareCredit is the only card with a specific feature for financing veterinarian bills, and you’ll have to see if your vet accepts it.

The card has a 0% APR promotional offer from six to 24 months, perfect for those who need more time to take care of their pet’s expenses. There are longer financing terms available as well, starting at 24 months and ending at 60 months.

Purchase Amount

CareCredit Financing Options

$1,000 or more

Eligible for a 24-, 36- or 48-month financing
offer with a 14.90% APR

$2,500 or more

Eligible for a 60-month financing offer
with a 16.90% APR

One of the downsides of CareCredit is that it charges deferred interest if you don’t pay off the balance by the time the introductory offer ends. The current standard APR is 26.99 percent.

If you’re going to carry a card that charges deferred interest, make every possible attempt to pay off the balance before that interest kicks in. You can use a credit card payoff calculator to help you figure out what you need to pay monthly in order to get rid of your debt before the promotional APR period ends.

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Other options

Using a pet-focused credit card to take care of vet bills isn’t the only way to spread out the costs of animal health care — or even necessarily the best option.

Below, we’ve listed several credit cards that can help you tackle hefty veterinary bills; what’s best for you will depend on a variety of factors, like how much time you have to prepare for the expense and what your personal financial situation actually is.

For a one-time expense: Cards with a 0 percent introductory APR

Some credit cards offer a one-time 0 percent APR introductory rate on new purchases. That means whenever you spend money during the promotional period, you won’t have to pay interest on those purchases as long as you pay off the balance before the promo period ends.

This type of card is best for people who can anticipate an expense, such as an imminent surgery. Keep in mind that it may take a few weeks to get approved and receive your new credit card, so planning is key.

Also, promotional periods start when your account opens, not with your first purchase, so you’ll want to apply funds to the vet bill as soon as you can after getting the card to maximize the time you have to pay off the balance interest-free. This course of action is really best for a one-time cost: Recurring costs can add up quickly, making it difficult to pay off the balance by the time the special offer runs out.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

Why we like it

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card has a 0 percent intro APR for 21 months, one of the longest periods available. That includes both purchases and balance transfers. Once the promotional period is over, the rates will switch to a variable APR of 13.99-23.99%, depending on your credit score.

This card has no annual fee and is a good option if you’re confident you can pay off the balance before the intro period ends. Otherwise, you could face some heavy interest fees.

Fees and fine print

There is a balance transfer fee of 3 percent of each balance transfer, with a minimum charge of $5. Foreign transactions result in a 3 percent fee, and late-payment fees can be up to $35.

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The Provident Signature CashBack Visa® card from Provident CU

Why we like it

The Provident Signature Cash Back Visa® card from Provident CU is one of the few credit cards that offers both cashback rewards and a 0 percent APR intro offer on both purchases and balance transfers. The offer lasts the first 14 months your account is open, and after the promotional period ends, the standard variable APR rates kick in: 11.99-16.99 percent for purchases and 12.99-17.99 percent for balance transfers. Those rates are somewhat less than other cards on this list, which make it a good option if you’re not sure you can pay off your balance in 14 months.

The card doesn’t have an annual fee and earns unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases. It also has no foreign transaction fees and includes travel accident and trip cancellation/interruption insurance, making it a great choice for pet owners who also like to go places.

Fees and fine print

The biggest downside to this card is its availability: You have to be a member of Provident Credit Union to get it. The credit union is based in California and mostly serves the Bay Area, though you can join if you have a membership with one of a variety of associations.

Beyond membership eligibility, here are some things to consider: Balance transfers carry a fee of $10 or 2 percent of the balance transferred, whichever is greater, and, if you miss a payment, a late-payment fee up to $15.

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For managing existing debt: Balance transfer credit cards

Sometimes your pet has a one-time emergency, like a tooth extraction or hip surgery, that you can’t anticipate. While you can plan ahead for routine needs, it’s hard to be prepared for a procedure that costs several thousand dollars in one fell swoop.

That’s where a card with a balance transfer offer can help. These cards usually offer a low interest rate, sometimes even 0 percent, on balance transfers. If you’re currently paying for your pup’s bills on a card with a high interest rate, consider applying for a card with a 0-percent-APR balance-transfer promotion. Depending on your current interest rate and your minimum payment, you could save hundreds on interest.

This kind of card is best for those who aren’t adding to the balance on a regular basis and are simply trying to pay off one-time expenses. These cards offer this low rate for a certain length of time, sometimes up to 24 months. Ideally, you should pay off the balance before the offer expires so you don’t pay interest on the balance. Calculate how much you need to pay each month so you can do that, keeping in mind it may require making more than the minimum payment.

Discover it® 18-Month Balance Transfer Offer

What we like

The Discover it® 18-Month Balance Transfer Offer is an introductory 18-month balance transfer offer at 0 percent APR. The card also has a six-month introductory APR of 0 percent on purchases. After the intro periods expire, your balance will be subject to the ongoing variable interest rate of 11.99-23.99 percent, depending on your credit. There is a 3 percent fee per balance transfer.

This card has no annual fee and is also a rewards card: You can earn 5 percent cash back in certain categories (the categories change each quarter), and all other purchases earn 1 percent cash back. Discover will match all the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically. Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.

One more benefit is that this card doesn’t charge a penalty APR, which is when card issuers can increase the APR if you miss a payment.

Fees and fine print

Keep in mind that the balance transfer intro offer differs from the purchase intro offer: New purchases only have a six-month, 0 percent APR intro period. The APR and cashback rewards may tempt you to spend more than you should, so be prepared to exercise self-control if you get this card to pay down vet-bill debt.

Discover also waives the late fee the first time you miss a payment, but don’t let it become a habit: Subsequent late payments will cost up to $37.

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Chase Slate®

What we like

The Chase Slate® stands out among many credit cards because there is no balance transfer fee if you complete a transfer within 60 days of the account opening. Any transfers made after 60 days will come with a 5 percent balance transfer fee ($5 minimum).

There is an introductory 0 percent APR on the first 15 months for both purchases and balance transfers and no annual fee. After the intro offer expires, purchases and balance transfers will have a 15.99-24.74 percent variable APR. There is also no penalty APR with this card, so you don’t have to worry about losing the 0 percent offer if you make a late payment.

Fees and fine print

Late payment fees cost up to $37, depending on your balance, and foreign transactions carry a 3 percent transaction fee.

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Citi Simplicity® Card

What we like

The Citi Simplicity® Card is a top pick if you’re looking for a card with a stellar balance transfer offer and other significant perks. This card has no annual fee, no late fees and no penalty interest rate if you miss a payment. There is also 0 percent introductory APR for the first 21 months on balance transfers and purchases, after which it will convert to a standard, variable APR of 14.99-24.99 percent, depending on your credit score.

Fees and fine print to watch out for

While this card might be great for some pet owners, there are some other things to watch out for. The balance transfer fee is 3 percent of the balance ($5 minimum), and this card has a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent.

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For ongoing expenses: Low-interest credit cards

If you have an older pet who needs monthly meds or is on a strict diet, proper care can involve costly recurring expenses. If, as a result, you can’t afford to pay off your credit card balance in full every month, having a low-interest credit card can help.

Interest fees can add up quickly once the balance grows, so be sure to watch how much of the principal you’re paying every month and how much is going to interest. You might be more motivated to pay off the debt in full if you know how much it’s costing you each month.

UNIFY Financial Credit Union Variable Rate Visa® Credit Card

What we like

Any U.S. citizen or permanent resident can join UNIFY, and it offers a credit card with one of the lowest interest rates out there. The ongoing interest rate on this card ranges from 5.99-18 percent APR (variable), so if you have good credit and anticipate dealing with hefty vet bills for a very long time, this card could help you keep your financing costs down. There’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Fees and fine print

This is a no-frills credit card with no introductory periods, so you’ll start incurring finance charges as soon as you start carrying a balance from month to month. If your ongoing expenses are going to last less than a year and a half, you may be better off with something like the Citi Diamond Preferred (described above) because of its long introductory purchase APR.

Late payments on the UNIFY credit card incur a fee of up to $25 fee at five days past the due date, and besides the low APR, this card offers very few perks.

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TruWest Visa Platinum

What we like

The TruWest Visa Platinum card has 0 percent Intro APR for the first 18 billing cycles on both purchases and balance transfers, as well as no annual fee. However, its premier perk is its low ongoing interest rates, which range from 6.95-20.95%, some of the lowest available.

Fees and fine print

This card is from TruWest Credit Union, and you must be a member of the credit union to join. However, it’s not easy to become a member. Membership is available to those who work in select Arizona and Texas counties or have worked for select employers including Motorola, Freescale and ON Semiconductor. Relatives of current members are also eligible. Current members must have at least $5 deposited with TruWest in order to apply for a credit card.

Because membership is so limited, only a small portion of the population will be eligible for this card.

There is no penalty APR, but late fees can cost up to $25. Foreign transactions have a fee of 0.8-1 percent — the higher fee applies when the transaction requires a currency conversion.

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The post The Best Credit Cards for Pet Expenses appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

32 Ways to Leave Your High-Interest Credit Card

credit card with high apr

Sure, there were the good times — back when you and your credit card first got together. Maybe your card was giving you a 0% introductory APR. Maybe you went everywhere together, bought everything together … but things changed. Today you feel like you’re giving a lot more than you’re getting, and now you’re wondering how you can leave your high-interest credit card behind.

While there aren’t as many options for leaving your credit card as there are ways to leave your lover (Paul Simon famously notes there must be 50 of those), it doesn’t mean you’re stuck. No, you’re probably not going to be able to slip out the back, Jack (that debt’s not going away even if you run!), but you most definitely can make a new plan, Stan. So don’t be coy, Roy, just listen to me …

1. Negotiate a Lower Rate

Most people don’t bother to ask their credit card issuer for a lower rate, but sometimes lowering your current APR can be as simple as that, so …

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Before you storm out on your credit card, try communicating. It could be worth your time to see if your card issuer will lower your interest rate, especially if your relationship is a long one. Keep in mind, they might pull your credit to see if you’re deserving of a lower APR. That’s why you’ll want to …

3. Check Your Credit Score …

You’ll want to get an idea of whether you’re likely to qualify for a lower APR, lest you incur a hard inquiry on your credit report only to get rejected. (You can view two of your free credit scores, along with some recommendations for credit cards it could help you qualify for, on Credit.com.)

4. … Fix it Up Before Inquiring

If your scores are less than stellar, you may want to try brushing them up before you call up your issuer. You can find 11 ways to improve your credit here.

5. Do Some Research

Are there other cards out there you qualify for that can offer you a better APR? If so, you can use this information to your advantage while negotiating with your current issuer.

6. Begin Negotiating With Your Oldest Card

Like we said before, your issuer might be willing to work with you, especially if you’ve been a cardholder for several years, so start negotiating with whichever card issuer you’ve been with longest to see if you can reduce your interest rate there.

7. Keep It Simple

It’s not a difficult process to ask for a decrease in your APR. In fact, it’s as simple as a call to the customer service line listed on the back of your card. Yes, they could say no, but that’s where your research will come in handy and you can …

8. Leverage Your Loyalty

If they say they can’t reduce your rate, remind them of how long you’ve been with the company, how you’ve never had a late payment or maxed out your card’s balance. Whatever positives you can cite can be helpful. If that doesn’t work, tell them what the other cards you’ve researched are offering. But most importantly …

9. Don’t Give Up Right Away

The old adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” is especially important here. Your issuer may say no, but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Call them multiple times, and ask to speak to a supervisor if their answer continues to be no. Of course, you’ll want to be polite throughout the process. If all of this doesn’t work, it’s time to …

10. Consider an Upgrade

A lot of card issuers have tiered credit card offerings, so you could potentially upgrade to a new card with the same issuer that offers a lower interest rate and transfer your current balance to that card.

11. Keep Watching Your Credit …

Just like when an issuer considers lowering your interest rate, which we mentioned above, they’ll likely check your credit as part of your application for a card upgrade. So, if you think there’s a better credit card available elsewhere, you might not want to ask them to upgrade you.

12. … & Limit Your Card Applications

In fact, every time you apply for new credit you’re going to have a hard inquiry and a ding to your credit scores. These can add up if you have too many in a short span of time and even impact your ability to qualify for a new card, so be very selective or you could end up hurting your credit. (You can read here about how often you can apply for new credit without hurting your credit scores too much.)

If you’ve tried all these steps with your current credit card issuer to no avail, it’s time to look at starting a new relationship with a new issuer.

13. Get a Balance Transfer Card

Let’s say you’ve tried everything to lower your current APR with your card issuer and they just won’t work with you. Perhaps you’ve had some late payments or you just haven’t been with them that long. Getting a balance transfer credit card could make sense for you.

14. Find an Introductory 0% APR

There are lots of options to choose from in the world of balance transfer credit cards with a low or even 0% introductory APR. Here’s how to find the right one for you …

15. Comparison Shop

You can start by checking out some of the best balance transfer credit cards and comparing what they offer.

16. Give Yourself Plenty of Time

There are balance transfer cards that offer as long as 21 months at 0% financing for balance transfers and even new purchases. If you have a lot of current credit card debt, that could be very beneficial to you, as you’ll eliminate your interest while paying down your principal.

17. Don’t Forget the Transfer Fees …

Of course, most balance transfer cards charge you a fee for transferring your balance – typically 3% to 5%, so be sure to compare those amounts as well.

18. … & the Annual Fees

Some cards also charge an annual fee, so you’ll want to consider that cost as well as you compare balance transfer offers.

19. Make Sure You Time it Right

If you’re looking at buying a new house, car or other major purchase anytime soon, you’ll want to time your credit card application with that in mind since your credit scores will be impacted by that aforementioned hard inquiry that takes place during your application process.

20. Include Your Balance Transfer Amount in Your Application

This can help ensure the transfer goes smoothly and quickly. The new issuer will reach out to your current card issuer once you’re approved and get the transfer process started right away, saving you the hassle of doing it later.

21. Pay Off Your Balance

Once you have your new balance transfer card, it’s important to focus your attention on getting that balance paid off before your introductory rate expires. Otherwise, your balance is going to revert to the standard variable rate.

22. Keep Your Old Card

No, keeping your old card isn’t exactly leaving it, but hear us out. You might be tempted to close your old card, particularly if your card issuer refused to reduce your APR when you transferred your balance, but keeping it open can be good for your credit score.

That’s because your credit scores improve the longer you have a credit account in good standing, so if you had a decent payment history, keeping that card open could really help. Moreover, your total credit line will be higher if you keep it open, also helping your scores. (You can find a full explainer on how closing a card can affect your credit here.)

Go ahead and cut it up, though, if it makes you feel better. That will also keep you from using it.

23. Keep Your New Interest Rate Low

Now that you have a card with a lower APR, even if it’s just an introductory rate, there are things you can do to keep your rate as low as possible. You’ll want to …

24. Make Your Payments On Time …

Late payments can send your APR soaring, so make all of your payments on time to avoid a penalty APR.

25. … & Keep Your Balance Low

If you can’t pay off your balance each month, at least try to make payments that keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit, though below 10% is even better if you want to do your credit scores a real favor.

26. Don’t Take Cash Advances

These usually come with a higher variable APR than purchases or balance transfers, so try to avoid them if you want to keep your rates down.

27. Try Some Other Alternatives …

If you’ve had a bad run financially and aren’t going to qualify for a credit card with a lower APR, you still have plenty of money-saving options, so don’t give up just yet. You have some alternatives …

28. Like a Personal Loan …

You may be able to pay off your credit card debt with a personal loan from your bank or credit union, but keep in mind that unless you have excellent credit, you’ll likely need some kind of collateral to secure it. Be sure to ask about the lender’s credit requirements before applying.

29. Or a Home Equity Line of Credit …

If you own a home and have some equity built up, this can be a great option for paying off debt at a lower interest rate. You can save a ton by moving your debt to a HELOC.

30. … But Don’t Spend Your Savings

Use the money you save by refinancing through a HELOC on creating an emergency fund (if you don’t already have one). Once that’s set up, you can use the money as prepayment against your home loan or to boost your retirement savings.

31. Consider a Debt Management Plan …

A debt management plan allows you to turn over all of your debt information to a credit counseling agency. You make one monthly payment to them, and they pay your credit cards and other debts for you. These plans usually last three to five years, and a lot of lenders lower your interest rates when you participate in such a plan. You’ll want to be sure to find a reputable credit counseling agency, so do your research.

32. … Or File for Bankruptcy

As a last-resort option, you can consider getting out from under your high-interest credit card debt by declaring bankruptcy. You’ll lower your debt and have many years to pay it off depending on the type of bankruptcy relief you file for. Just remember you’ll also have a major blemish on your credit reports for up to 10 years that could seriously affect your ability to get credit (in general and at n affordable rate) during that time. Still, if your debt is significant, this could be the right option for you. Talking to a credit counselor or bankruptcy attorney before deciding could help you make the right choice for your circumstances.

Have another question about credit card debt? Leave it in the comments section and one of our credit experts will try to get back to you.

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4 Credit Cards That Could Help You Get Out of Debt Faster

0% credit cards

Are you struggling under the weight of credit card debt? As unsecured debt, credit cards can have much higher interest rates than loans secured by your home or your car. And unlike a home mortgage or a student loan, credit card interest charges are never tax deductible.

When you have credit card debt, you continue to incur interest charges each day on your balance, and it can consume a substantial proportion of your monthly payments. Thankfully, there are some credit cards that can actually help you to get out of debt sooner than staying with your current credit card.

Many credit cards offer interest-free promotional financing on balance transfers. When you open an account with one of these cards, you can transfer your existing balance to your new card and enjoy 0% APR financing for more than a year. However, nearly all credit cards with interest-free promotional financing on balance transfers will charge a fee of 3% or 5% of the balance you want to carry over to the new card.

During this promotional financing period, 100% of each payment you make goes directly towards paying down the principal. As a result, you can pay off your credit card debt sooner without making larger payments each month. Better yet, you can use the end of the promotional financing offer as a goal for paying off your entire debt. When you have an added incentive to pay off your debt before interest begins to accrue, you can work even harder towards avoiding all interest charges.

Here are some of the best credit cards that can help you to get out of debt faster.

1. Chase Slate

This is the only credit card from a major bank that offers 0% APR balance transfers with no balance transfer fee or annual fee. New applicants receive 15 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with no fee for transfers completed within 60 days of account opening. 

In addition to its outstanding balance transfer offer, this card also features Chase’s Blueprint program at no additional cost. Blueprint allows you to set a date for paying off your debt and it provides you with the amount you have to pay each month to reach that goal. Or, you can input the amount you are able to pay each month, and it will tell you how much time it will take for you to pay off your debt. Blueprint also allows you to avoid interest on some charges by paying them in full while carrying a balance on others. There is no annual fee for this card, and it has no penalty interest rate.

2. Citi Simplicity

Citi’s Simplicity card offers the longest promotional financing offer available from a major bank. It features 21 months of interest-free financing on both new purchases and balance transfers, with a 3% balance transfer fee. Simplicity also has no late fees and no penalty interest rate. Other benefits include extended warranty coverage and access to Citi’s Price Rewind service. There is no annual fee for this card. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

3. BankAmericard From Bank of America

This card offers 18 months of interest-free financing on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening, with a 3% balance transfer fee. And since it’s issued by one of the nation’s largest banks, those who have an existing checking or savings account with Bank of America can have the convenience of making transfers between accounts rather than payments between institutions. This card is also compatible with mobile payment systems including Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay. There’s no annual fee for this card.

4. JetBlue Plus Card From Barclaycard

This card allows you to pay down your balance faster, while also offering travel rewards and benefits. New cardholders receive 12 months of 0% APR financing on balance transfers completed within 45 days of account opening. You also earn 6x points for JetBlue purchases, 2x points at restaurants and grocery stores and 1x on all other purchases. Travel benefits include a 50% savings on in-flight purchases, 10% of your redeemed points back and a free checked bag on JetBlue flights. There’s a $99 annual fee for this card, and no foreign transaction fees.

A Note on Balance Transfers

Once you transfer your balances to a 0% APR card, it can be tempting to spend again on the clean, debt-free card, but it’s important to try to keep your balances as low as possible on both cards. Card balances and a heavy amount of debt influence your credit scores in a negative way, and a low credit score can limit your options in the future. Mortgage rates, car loan rates and even cellphone down payments are influenced by your credit score. If you’re curious to see how your debts are influencing your credit scores, you can see two of them for free, updated every 14 days on Credit.com. 

At publishing time, the Chase Slate, Citi Simplicity and the JetBlue Plus card from Barclaycard are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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