Pet Wellness Guides > Pet Insurance VS Care Credit: Which is Better? - Pet Insurance Review

Pet Insurance VS Care Credit: Which is Better?

Posted: 09/13/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Pet care , Top Tips

If you have a fur baby in your life, you know it isn’t exactly cheap to take care of them. In fact, according to The American Pet Products Association, pet parents spent $136.8 billion on our pets in 2022. $35 billion of that went to vet care & products sales. How can pet parents finance the medical care of their pets so they don’t break the bank? Pet insurance VS Care Credit: which is really better?

In this blog post we’ll simplify what is often confusing and outline the pros and cons of both pet insurance and financing options like Care Credit so you can make an informed decision. 

Key Takeaways

  • Care Credit acts like a credit card and you must first apply for a line of credit.
  • Care Credit allows for immediate payments and all medical treatments are covered.
  • With Care Credit, you are responsible for paying back the entire loan with interest applied.
  • Pet insurance is customizable and allows you to choose your premium, deductible and reimbursement rate.
  • While a handful of insurance pet companies do pay the vet directly, most require you to pay upfront and file a claim.
  • Pet insurance can pay up to 90% of your bill for you.
  • Care Credit and Pet Insurance can work well together.

Care Credit

pet insurance vs care credit

There was a time when vet clinics themselves offered pet financing. But nowadays you’d be hard pressed to find a clinic that offers this option. To fill the void, many companies, like Care Credit, are offering their own pet financing solutions. 

Care Credit acts much like a regular credit card. You must apply for a line of credit. Whether or not you are accepted will depend on your yearly income as well as credit score. Unlike pet insurance, you don’t need to have a plan in place before a medical emergency. You can actually apply for credit right from the vet’s office or emergency clinic and get approved for a specific amount in minutes. 


The following are some of the things pet parents may appreciate about Care Credit:

Immediate Payment

You can use your Care Credit card immediately at the time of checkout.  With most pet insurance policies, you will need to pay out of pocket first and then be reimbursed by your provider.

Everything is Covered

Since Care Credit is essentially a credit card, you can be certain that all expenses will be covered, as long as you don’t exceed your credit limit. With a credit card, you’ll be sure you can pay for things like routine checkups, diagnostics and treatments for pre-existing, chronic, and hereditary conditions, cosmetic and elective surgery, and even medical supplies. Many pet insurance providers, on the other hand, have certain exclusions of coverage such as elective surgery and many hereditary conditions.


And now let’s break down some of the main points of concern with Care Credit:

The Interest

the elephant in the room is that credit card purchases come with interest tacked on. What starts off as a $5,000 purchase to be paid off can eventually turn into $7,500 that you actually pay. Ouch. 

There are also the additional penalties and fees should you not pay on time or in full within a specified time period. It should also be mentioned that late payments and an inability to pay off the entire debt can negatively impact your credit score.

The Total Costs

The good news is Care Credit will pay your entire bill upfront. The bad news is you are now responsible for paying that bill in full. With pet insurance, your provider may pay up to 90% of the bill on your behalf.

Limited Acceptance

While it is becoming more widely accepted, Care Credit is currently only accepted at roughly 75% of vet clinics in the country. So you’ll need to see if your vet and local emergency clinic accept it.

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is a completely different financial model. Consumers are able to customize their coverage to suit their budget and pet’s needs. While there may be some coverage exclusions, you’ll end up paying far less of the bill thanks to high reimbursement rates.

Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons:


The following are some things many pet parents appreciate about pet insurance:

You Can Use it Anywhere

Unlike Care Credit, which is not widely accepted, pet insurance providers will reimburse you as long as you go to any licensed vet or emergency clinic in the United States (and sometimes even Canada!) This is great for those people who take their pets with them while they travel.

High Reimbursement Rates

As we mentioned, many pet insurance policies will reimburse you for a large portion of the entire vet bill once you’ve reached your deductible. Many have reimbursement rates of between 70% and 90%. This can ultimately save you thousands of dollars, whereas with Care Credit, you’re on the hook for paying the entire bill back.


Most providers allow you to customize your plan so you get the kind of coverage you need and can afford. Choosing a different deductible and reimbursement rate can help to lower your monthly premium. Many pet insurance providers also offer different kinds of discounts to bring that payment down as well.

No Interest

With pet insurance, you never have to worry about having to make large monthly payments that may increase over time as interest rates climb.


Here are some things to be aware of with pet insurance:

Out of Pocket Costs

Most pet insurance providers will not pay the vet directly, although some do. This means you are responsible for paying the initial bill upfront. Once your claim has been filed and approved, you will receive your reimbursement payment.

Age Limits

Some pet insurance providers have a cut off age for older pets. This means you cannot enroll your pet past a certain age, usually 14. However, if you enroll your pet when they are young, they will be insured for life no matter how old they get.


All policies have exclusions that are not eligible for coverage. The most common are pre-existing conditions as well as some hereditary conditions and dental care.

Pet Insurance + Care Credit = A Match Made in Heaven

As you can see, each payment option has its pros and cons. By combining these two you get the best of both worlds.

So for instance, with Care Credit you can instantly pay the bill without having to cash out your savings account. You then file a claim with your pet insurance provider and they reimburse you for up to 90% of the bill. And these payments are often made within 7-10 days. You can then turn around and use that money to pay off the majority of your Care Credit balance so you don’t have to make hefty monthly payments with added interest. 

So, don’t think of Care Credit and pet insurance as adversaries; think of them as complementary tools you can use to ensure you can afford the very best care for your very best friends when they need it the most. 

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References: “Pet Industry Market Size, Trends & Ownership Statistics” 


The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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