Is it just us, or has caring a four-legged friend gotten more expensive? The data points to YES: The American Pet Products Association (APPA) says that Americans spent a record-breaking $19 billion in 2019, with an annual increase of roughly one billion per year. And unlike medical care for humans, many emergency procedures for pets are held back unless the pet’s owner can pay a deposit up front.
With 6 in 10 Americans reporting that they don’t have the savings to cover emergency vet services, this can present pet owners with an unthinkable decision: scrape together the cash, or refrain from saving your beloved pet’s life.
Enter CareCredit and Scratchpay, two web-based veterinary-financing services. A service designed to help you pay for vet bills – sounds like a great idea! But, how do we know if either of these providers are trustworthy? Which is easier to use? Are there any risks?
As with any lending service, it’s smartest to dig into details like these. Even better if you can do your research before you need them. In this article, we’ll do what we do best, and compare, contrast, and digest allllll of the fine print for you below so that you can figure out if CareCredit or Scratchpay make sense for you. But first, let’s review the basics.
What exactly is veterinary financing and who is it for?
Private veterinary financing is a new type of lending offered by certain veterinary clinics and pet hospitals to help their customers deal with large veterinary bills. In a veterinary emergency or chronic illness for your pet, classic pet insurance would typically cover some veterinary costs but could leave you with a high deductible or with bills that go over their max payouts.
Pet care financing is basically a new type of a loan, and functions a lot like a typical line of credit or credit card, so everything under your credit limit is covered immediately (and without paperwork!)
Just like credit cards, veterinary financing programs have varying rates of interest and loan terms based on your eligibility. Anyone can apply online, it only takes a few minutes, and management of your account is much like any other modern monthly bill, with virtually painless electronic payments and statements.
CareCredit and Scratchpay are two widely used and accepted payment plans for veterinary costs, and although they both serve the same niche, they have some important differences. Let’s start with the biggest one: credit card format vs. line of credit format.
CareCredit is a credit card
CareCredit works much like any of the other credit cards in your wallet: you can use it whenever health expenditures for your pet arise and wherever it is accepted (below a certain limit of course). You make payments based on your balance and interest, and if you are in good standing, you can apply to increase your credit limit at any time.
Scratchpay is a short term loan
With Scratchpay, instead of having an actual card in your wallet that you use when you need it, with you apply for a loan each time a new vet expense comes along, and then the needed amount is paid right to your veterinarian’s office. If something else comes up, and you need more financing, you can apply for another Scratchpay loan and keeping multiple accounts at once.
Is veterinary financing like Scratchpay and CareCredit for everyone?
So, should everyone with a pet have one of these credit options on hand for emergencies? Not really, for a couple of reasons.
First, the rapid-fire application process for both of these products are designed to come to you (and your pet’s) rescue as soon as you need it in case of a veterinary emergency. So, with these services, you can get money for a procedure quickly – you don’t need to apply ways ahead of time.
And second, you may already have a credit card with comfortable terms and may favor using those over adding another credit product with potentially higher interest. If you’ve got a great card, it may very well make sense to use that instead of getting a new source of capital to pay for a procedure at the vet!
Let’s dive in and compare the differences between these two providers, so you can be well prepared should you need to make a quick decision.
Comparing Scratchpay and CareCredit
Scratchpay vs CareCredit: Best Vet Financing
|Format||Installment loan||Credit Card|
|Recommended Minimum Credit score to apply||600-700, also based on income||All are encouraged to apply|
|Minimum lending amount||$35||$1|
|Maximum lending amount||$10,000||There is no maximum lending amount|
|Lowest available Interest Rate||0%||0%|
So why does Scratchpay offer a lower credit limit than Carecredit? Well, since the amount borrowed is based on one singular vet expenditure, and you can apply for multiple loans at once if you need to, there shouldn’t be a need for borrowing more than $10,000. Other than that, the application criteria are more or less similar to major credit cards, requiring a fair FICO credit score or better.
Also – the zero percent interest rates may seem too good to be true. We’ll explain more below about what you need to do to get that zero percent interest rate from the two providers (hint, you need to follow a very specific, sort of quick, repayment plan!) (You can learn more about APRs and interest rates here.)
Now, let’s dig a little deeper into the details of how easy our two options are to obtain, use, and manage:
Scratchpay vs CareCredit: Compare Pet Payment Plans
|Acceptance at Clinics and Hospitals||Good||Excellent|
|All species of pets eligible||✔️||✔️|
|All veterinary procedures eligible||✔️||✔️|
|Prescriptions eligible||Only from Vet||Yes, from anywhere|
|Pet only||✔️||Human procedures too!|
|Easy to Apply||Very Easy||Easy|
|Have to talk to a sales person||✖️||Optional|
|Easy to manage account||✔️||✔️|
So how do you know if your favorite veterinary provider will accept either Scratchpay or CareCredit?
Where are Scratchpay and CareCredit accepted?
While Scratchpay is growing, their network currently rings in at about 200,000 veterinary and healthcare providers. CareCredit, on the other, hand is accepted at ~25,000 veterinary providers nationwide, which equates to ~75% of US providers. CareCredit is accepted at 260,000+ healthcare provider locations nationwide. And its website offers a search function where you can quickly enter your zipcode and city name to locate your local options.
What procedures are covered by CareCredit and Scratchpay?
For both cards, both routine and emergency pet care are covered, and that includes chronic illnesses, emergency procedures, dental work, prescriptions, and, not that anyone wants to think about this, but… they also cover pet cremations.
For both cards, routine care includes things like:
- Annual check-ups
- Teeth cleanings
- Food and nutrition
With CareCredit, you have the added benefit of being able to use if for you or your family’s dental or medical expenditures and purchases for medical supplies, whereas Scratchpay is exclusively for Animal care.
How to apply and get approved by ScratchPay and CareCredit
For those that would rather a phone application process is available for CareCredit applicants along with the online application. And for the truly old school, in person application is available at most veterinary clinics that accept Carecredit. Along with all the usual identifying data, the application also asks users to identify their plans for using the card. It doesn’t have to be authorized by a veterinarian or anything, but they just want to know your reason for use to begin with. After that, you can use the card freely at accepting clinics without reporting to CareCredit.
Once you’ve accepted your offer, you are asked to provide ID and sign a promissory note. The last step is receiving an email with an “Agree and Submit” button, with which you can seal the deal.
For Scratchpay, you can apply right from your phone and quickly view the products and interest rates that are being offered to you based on your information and credit rating. We like that you can do this anytime of day, 24/7 and still get a response.
One thing that customers love about Scratchpay is that they perform a soft credit check when you apply, meaning that your credit doesn’t show the inquiry or receive any “dings” (to use the technical term). Scratchpay also uses a “merit based” approval using their own internal algorithms, and carry your loan in-house, so they are able to make their own decisions on who to lend to without being tied to another cooperating lender.
How CareCredit works
After applying, CareCredit usually notifies you and your veterinarian of your status that same day, so that your furry (or scaly) friend can begin their treatment ASAP.
Automatic monthly payments are available either via mail, online account, or the CareCredit app. Interest rates vary, but they usually range from 14.90 and 17.90 percent APR.
CareCredit certainly has more products to choose from than Scratchpay, including options for a longer 0% APR promotion:
CareCredit Pet Care Financing Options
|“Pay Later”||“Deferred Interest”||“Fixed APR until paid in full”|
Promotional Financing Term
|90 Days||6, 12, 18, or 24** months||24||36||48|
|0%||No interest will be assessed if you pay promo purchase amount (within promo period) – otherwise will be assessed on the promo purchase from date of purchase at 26.99% interest rate.||14.90%||15.90%||16.90%|
|Interest accrued from date of purchase at|