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. Not sure which cards offer the longest 0% intro APR? Here are some of our top picks:

Citi Simplicity Card – No Late Fees Ever

medical expensesIf you want the longest 0% intro APR on purchases, the Citi Simplicity Card – No Late Fees Ever (a NextAdvisor advertiser) is your card. That’s because it offers a whopping 21-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% balance transfer fee). This means you’ll have almost 2 years to pay off your medical expenses. On top of that, the Citi Simplicity Card – No Late Fees Ever has no annual fee, no late fees and no penalty APR — ever! Cardholders can pick their own payment date, which means you can easily align the date with your paycheck.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card

medical expensesThe Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card is another option for those looking to avoid interest on their medical expenses because it offers an 18-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% intro balance transfer fee for 18 months, then it’s 5%). Cardholders will pay no annual fee and if they use their Wells Fargo Platinum Visa Card to pay their cell phone bill every month, they’ll get up to $600 in mobile phone protection against covered damage and theft (maximum of 2 claims per year). There is a $25 deductible per claim, but this one-time fee is likely a lot cheaper than what you’d pay your cell phone provider for insurance.

BankAmericard Credit Card

medical expensesRounding out our list of the best 0% intro APR credit cards for paying medical expenses is the BankAmericard Credit Card. As our top-rated balance transfer credit card, we usually recommend it for balance transfers, but the BankAmericard Credit Card is also a solid choice for someone looking to make a big purchase. That’s because it offers a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases. It also has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers made within the first 60 days of account opening, and you’ll get a $0 intro balance transfer fee for transfers made in the 60-day period (after that, it’s a fee of $10 or 3%, whichever is greater). The balance transfer aspect of this card probably isn’t something you’ll use, unless you already paid your medical expenses with another credit card and you want to transfer the balance to pay it off. The BankAmericard Credit Card also has no annual fee.

You can earn cash back 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! For example, if you use a card like the Well Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card (detailed below), which earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, to pay a $1,200 medical bill, you’ll get $18 back. On top of that, you’ll get a $200 bonus for spending at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months, bringing your total cash back to $218 — that’s $218 less you have to pay toward your bill! 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. Here are three cards that offer such perks:

Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card

medical expensesKicking off our list of the best cash back credit cards for medical expenses is the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card. As noted above, this card earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, including your medical expenses. It also offers a $200 cash rewards bonus to cardholders who spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Additionally, the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card has a 12-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 3% intro balance transfer fee for 12 months, then it’s 5%). If you can pay your medical expenses using Apple Pay or Android Pay, you’ll earn even more cash back because cardholders earn 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile purchases made during the first 12 months from account opening. Other perks of the Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card include no annual fee and cell phone protection to those who pay their monthly mobile phone bill with their card.

Barclaycard CashForward World Mastercard

medical expensesAnother option for paying your medical expenses is the Barclaycard CashForward World Mastercard, which combines cash back rewards with a 0% intro APR period. This card earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases and has a $200 cash rewards bonus to those who spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days. On top of that, you’ll get a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases as well as balance transfers completed in the first 45 days of account opening (note there is a 3% balance transfer fee). What’s more, every time you redeem your rewards, you’ll earn a 5% cash rewards bonus to use toward your next redemption, which is a great ongoing bonus, and you’ll pay no annual fee. It should be noted that this card is only available to those with excellent credit (usually considered a credit score of 750 or higher) — the other cards in this post are available to those with good to excellent credit (a credit score of 700 or higher). This means that if your credit is less-than-perfect, the Barclaycard CashForward World Mastercard probably isn’t a fit for you.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

medical expensesOur final pick for the best cash back cards to pay medical expenses is Chase Freedom Unlimited. To start, this card earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Next, when you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, you’ll earn a $150 bonus. Additionally, you’ll get a 15-month 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers (with a 5% balance transfer fee) and pay no annual fee.

Keep in mind that a travel credit card can also earn rewards on your medical expenses, depending on the card, but we opted to only include cash back credit cards in this post because 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, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, as they all 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 credit cards are 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.