How do dental loans work?
A dental loan can be a fast and flexible way to pay for dental expenses not covered by insurance. Among the procedures a dental loan might cover are:
Online lenders, some banks and some credit unions offer personal loans that can be used for any purpose, including dental care. Each type of lender has different borrower requirements, rates and loan terms, so it’s best to pre-qualify with multiple lenders and compare your options. Personal loan rates generally range from 6% to 36%, and terms can be two to seven years.
Pre-qualify to see your potential loan offers and find the loan with monthly payments that fit in your budget.
To qualify you, lenders consider your credit score, income and existing debts. If approved for a dental loan, you’ll receive the money in a lump sum in your bank account, typically within a few days. You then use the loan to pay for your dental care. Going forward, you’ll make fixed monthly payments to your lender until the end of the contract term.
How to compare personal loans for dental work
Annual percentage rate and fees. A personal loan's APR can be higher than its interest rate because it reflects the entire cost of a loan, including the interest rate and any fees. Some lenders charge origination fees that can range from 1% to 10% of the loan amount. Other possible fees include late payment and returned payment fees.
Borrower requirements. Some lenders have minimum income or credit score requirements. Or they may allow a maximum amount of debt compared to your income, expressed as a debt-to-income ratio.
Time to fund. While some lenders offer same-day funding, others can take up to a week to fund. You can speed up the application process by gathering all the required documents before applying and by promptly responding to lender questions.
Repayment term. A longer loan term can mean smaller monthly payments, but it can also result in more interest over the life of the loan.
For example, a $2,500 loan with a five-year term and 8% APR will require a $50 monthly payment and cost $541 in total interest. The same loan with a seven-year term would put the monthly payment at $39, but cost $773 in interest.
A personal loan calculator can help you decide what repayment term fits best with your budget
» MORE: Best medical loans
Dental loans for bad credit
If you have fair or bad credit (a score of 689 or below), you may still be able to get a loan for dental work; however, you’ll likely get a rate that’s on the high end of a lender’s APR range. If you have bad credit and decide to pursue a dental loan, consider a co-signed loan to potentially receive a lower rate.
Avoid loans with APRs above 36%, which is the maximum rate deemed affordable by financial experts and consumer advocates. A three-year, $3,000 loan with a 36% APR costs almost $2,000 in interest.
Alternative dental financing options
Medical credit card. Some offices offer financing through a medical credit card, like CareCredit. The standard APR for CareCredit financing is 26.99%, but some dental providers may offer 0% interest if you pay the full balance by the end of the term. CareCredit offers terms of six, 12, 18 and 24 months. Be sure to ask your dental care provider if 0% financing is available as some locations may not participate in the promotion.
0% credit card. If you have good or excellent credit (a score of 690 or above), you might qualify for a 0% APR credit card. These cards have an introductory period — usually 15 to 18 months — when you won’t accrue interest on purchases. If you can pay off your balance within the specified time, you’ll pay for the procedure interest-free.
Dental savings plan. A dental savings plan could be an affordable option to cover dental costs, as they allow you to pay an annual fee to receive discounts from dentists in the plan’s network. You can get a dental savings plan through some insurance companies.
Last updated on March 29, 2023