Updated: October 11, 2019

Sometimes life happens and you find yourself with a bill you didn’t plan to cover. While some of life’s unexpected events are easy to pick up, other events are not so financially friendly, including medical emergencies. In fact, a recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau study found that medical debt is the most common type of past-due bill, and 59% of consumers said they were contacted about a debt in collections related to medical debt. What if there was a way for people to not only keep up with their medical expenses, allowing them to avoid collections, but also provide some added perks? A credit card can do exactly that. Keep reading to learn four reasons why a credit card is your best bet for paying medical expenses.

Why it makes sense to pay your medical expenses with a credit card

0% intro APR periods allow you to pay off the balance interest-free

Getting a surprise medical bill is never fun, but it’s even worse when you can’t pay the bill in full. Although you can always make a payment plan with your doctor’s office, the hospital or the collections agency, doing so isn’t always the best fiscal solution, as you will not only be charged interest or some sort of fee to set up the payment plan, but you’ll also be tied to the company, doctor or organization until the debt is paid off. That’s where a card with a long 0% intro APR on purchases can help. By paying the debt with a new 0% intro APR credit card, you can rid yourself of the debt collector and have a long time to pay off the debt interest-free! Just be sure you pay off the balance before the 0% intro APR runs out, so you can make sure you do not pay any interest.

One great option that charges no annual fee and can help you avoid interest expenses is the BankAmericard credit card which offers a long 18-billing cycle introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers made in the first 60 days (with a 3% balance transfer fee, $10 minimum). Not sure which cards offer the longest 0% intro APR? Visit our 0% APR credit cards to find the right option for you.

You can earn rewards for paying your medical expenses

Even better than avoiding interest is earning cash back for paying your medical expenses. By using a card that earns a flat cash back rate on all purchases, you can get cash back for paying your medical expenses! On top of earning cash back rewards on all purchases, a number of these cards also offer long 0% intro APRs, allowing you to get the best of both worlds.

One card that offers such perks is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. To start, this card earns $150 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first 3 months. You’ll also earn an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Additionally, you’ll get a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% intro balance transfer fee when you transfer a balance during the first 60 days your account is open, $5 minimum — after that, it’s 5% or $5, whichever is greater). On top of that, Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee.

Keep in mind that a travel credit card can also earn rewards on your medical expenses, depending on the card, but most travel credit cards do not offer a 0% intro APR on purchases. If you did want to consider some of the travel rewards options, we’d recommend looking into Discover it Miles or the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, as they both earn a flat travel rate on all purchases.

Credit cards offer more fraud protection

We live in an age of data breaches and scammers, which means fraud protection is something you should take seriously. Even though you may be tempted to pay your medical expenses with a debit card or check, you should know that a credit card is the best option. Not only do credit cards offer the most fraud protection, as explained by the FTC, but they also usually have $0 fraud liability, which means the bank covers any fraud not covered by law. So while you may be tempted to pay your medical bill with a debit card or check to avoid credit card interest or racking up debt, it makes sense to pay the bill with your credit card, then put that cash toward the card. If you can’t pay the bill in full, consider one the cards we detailed above.

You can rid yourself of debt collectors

Debt collectors can be relentless. Even though consumers have rights and protections against debt collectors, the unfortunate reality is that not all debt collectors follow these rules and regulations. As such, it’s completely understandable for you to want to rid yourself of debt collectors and any debt owed to them. While you may be temped to make a payment plan with the debt collector, there is another option: pay them with a credit card. Yes, most debt collectors accept credit cards, which means you can use the other payment tactics we noted in this post to pay your medical expenses (using a 0% intro APR credit card or a cash back credit card) and rid yourself of the debt collector.

Medical debt can be a drag, especially if it’s a surprise. By using a credit card to pay for medical expenses, you can free yourself of the debt and even get some added perks. Visit our reviews of the best credit cards to learn more about the cards in this post, and follow our personal finance blog to get more tips for managing your credit cards and finances.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This content was accurate at the time of this post, but card terms and conditions may change at any time. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.