Tag: Credit cards

Why Do Doctors Offer Credit Cards?

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (When Your Doctor Sells Credit Cards) documented the growth in credit cards issued to finance elective procedures such as LASIK, plastic surgery and dental implants. The article covered the usual points but missed one important but little-known aspect of the industry.

Briefly, physicians offer the cards for procedures not covered by insurance. The cards have a zero percent interest rate and no fees, usually for the first 12 months. After that the interest rates spike and to make matters worse customers are also charged retroactive interest on their first year’s balance. Ouch! The article details the pitfalls you’d expect from cards like these, and of course there have been some abuses.

A card company spokesman quoted in the article says, “the vast majority of account holders pay off their balances before the promotion ends.” That statement doesn’t surprise me, because most people who have these elective procedures are relatively well off.

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