Dental loans: what you need to know before financing dental work – Forbes Advisor
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Dentist visits can be scary, and that’s before you have to worry about footing the bill. Even if you have dental insurance, most plans have a maximum annual benefit that the insurer will pay (often $ 1,000 to $ 2,000), so you may need to cover some expenses out of pocket.
If you need major dental care, especially if it’s been a long time, it’s quite common to go over those limits and have to pay the rest. Unfortunately, this high cost is what keeps many people from getting care in the first place.
But the bill shouldn’t give you a toothache either. Dental loans can help you bridge this gap so that you can get the care you need, if you know how to use it.
What are dental loans?
Dental loans are a special type of personal loan. They are cousins of medical loans, which are also a type of personal loan that can be used to pay for health care.
You can get a generic personal loan that you can use for just about anything, although many lenders offer loans specifically for dental work. Sometimes these dental loans have lower interest rates or different terms and loan amounts, so they may work better for you than a simple generic personal loan.
Dental loans are unsecured loans which means that they are not secured by any collateral that the lender can take back if you do not repay the loan. For example, a lender can repossess your car if you don’t pay because auto loans are secured loans, secured by your car as collateral, but they can’t repossess your fillings.
In general, unsecured loans tend to be more expensive than secured loans because they present greater risk to the lender. But as we have discussed above, dental loans can still be cheaper than other types of unsecured personal loans.
What can I use a dental loan for?
You can use a dental loan to pay for just about any type of dental work, including cosmetic dental procedures. This is especially convenient because cosmetic procedures can be very expensive. Here is an example of the costs of some common dental work for which you can use dental loans:
- Cleaning, with x-rays and dental exam: $ 140 to $ 600
- Composite resin fillings: $ 90 to $ 250
- Root canal on a molar tooth: $ 500 to $ 2,000
- Porcelain wreath: $ 800 to $ 3,000
- Porcelain veneers: $ 925 to $ 2,500 per tooth
- Teeth whitening: $ 500
How to get a dental loan
There are several ways to apply for a dental loan. Most dentists actually offer financing plans, especially those that offer cosmetic dentistry. This can be an internal financing plan of the dentist himself or a lender with which the dentist is a partner. Check with your dentist’s office to find out what financing plans they offer.
You can also apply for a dental loan from a third party lender elsewhere. You can find dental loans in many of the same places as personal loans, including online lenders, banks, and credit unions. Even if your dental office offers its own financing, it’s always a good idea to shop around and see if you can get better rates elsewhere.
When shopping, you can check your rate by entering your social security number, name, address, and other personal information. Just make sure that the lender performs a smooth credit check, so that it doesn’t affect your credit score. This prequalification process will allow them to offer you a more personalized price.
When you are ready to choose a lender, you can complete the application, which will require a serious credit check and will appear as a mark on your credit report. You may need to provide additional documents such as past tax returns, pay stubs, and bank account statements to complete the application.
What to consider when choosing a dental loan
Choosing the best dental loan is similar to choosing any other type of personal loan. Generally, it is best to choose the loan with the lowest interest rate and fees, which are expressed together as an annual percentage rate or APR. Here are some other things you may also want to consider:
- Funding time. Do you need money within a certain timeframe?
- Customer service. What is the good reputation of the lender?
- Terms of office. Do they offer terms that allow you to pay off debt as quickly as possible while keeping your monthly payment manageable?
Dental Loans For Bad Credit
It is generally much easier to qualify for dental loans if you have good or excellent credit, generally defined as 670 or higher. But people with bad credit also need dental care.
It is usually still possible to find bad credit dental loans or even dental loans without a credit check, but you may have to work harder to find these lenders. You may also have to pay higher rates to qualify.
Payday loans may seem like a good option for dental loans without a credit check, but we always advise against them. If you have bad credit, getting a dental loan and making all of your payments on time can be an important way to build your credit score so that you can get better loans and better credit later.
Payday loans, however, are not reported to the credit bureaus, so you don’t get any benefit from the loan. Plus, they’re so expensive that many states have banned them altogether.
Alternatives to dental loans
If you need dental care and can’t pay for it out of pocket, dental loans aren’t your only option. Here are some other things to consider:
0% APR Credit Cards
Many credit cards offer an introductory 0% APR period on purchases after you sign up for the card. For a certain number of months (usually six to 20 months), you won’t pay any interest on any charges you make.
You can actually use this to your advantage and open the card right before you need dental treatment. Then load your procedure on the card and pay it back before the end of the 0% APR period. If you divide the fee by the length of the introductory offer, you can set up automatic payments for that amount so that it is fully refunded at the end. This way you can basically get an interest free loan.
If you are planning on planning some cosmetic work, it may be best to save in a high yield savings account first. This way, you can earn interest on your savings, rather than paying interest to a lender.
However, we don’t recommend postponing necessary dental care like routine fillings and cleanings, as this can lead to even more costly (and painful) issues down the road. But if you can afford to wait for voluntary procedures, this is usually the best option.
Compare the prices
The cost of dental care can vary widely, even among dentists in the same area. If you are going for a routine cleaning and checkup, it may be a good idea to call in town and see what the different dentists are charging.
If you’ve already had an exam and know you need more expensive dental care, you can still shop around, but you may need to transfer your records from your old dentist to your new dentist. Plus, getting a second opinion is always a good option, especially for expensive procedures like braces or root canals.
Using a medical credit card
There aren’t really any specific dental credit cards, but you can also use medical credit cards to pay for dental treatment. These credit cards are only accepted by specific offices, so be sure to confirm with your dentist that they take the credit card you are considering before applying.
Many medical credit cards offer “deferred interest” financing, which is similar to 0% APR financing, except that you need to repay it before the end of the interest-free period. If you don’t, you will be charged interest retroactively from the first withdrawal, so you won’t save money at all.
This is often a good option if you know that you will need multiple procedures in the near future, such as multiple appointments to get fillings. Rather than taking out a lump sum dental loan, you can pay the fees as they arise so that you don’t pay interest on money you don’t need yet. As a bonus, you can also use it for health costs.