Of all the uses for a credit card, funding cosmetic surgery might seem out of left field. But the fact of the matter is millions of people go under the knife each year, and they need a way to pay. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 13.1 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. during 2010, totaling about $10.1 billion in costs. Since most insurance companies do not cover cosmetic surgery, the brunt of this expense is placed on the patients themselves. Cosmetic surgery need not have a long-lasting detrimental impact on your finances though. Waiting until you have the cash to pay for your procedure is obviously your best option, but consumer impatience often results in people incurring significant debt in the form of medical loans. In light of this fact and the current low interest rate environment, an interesting payment alternative is a 0% APR credit card.
A 0% credit card can be used to alleviate the financial burden of cosmetic surgery in two distinct ways: paying for the procedure from the outset or transferring the remaining balance of a medical loan post-operation. The average surgeon’s fees for the top 5 cosmetic surgery procedures in 2010—$3,700, according to the ASPS—provides a good starting point for comparison of the real-dollar savings these options can provide relative to a medical loan.
With this in mind, let’s consider how a 0% APR credit card like the Citi Platinum Select MasterCard, which has 0% on purchases for 21 months, would benefit a patient. After paying for a procedure with such a card, you have 21 months to pay off your balance before being assessed interest. Therefore, in order to reach zero balance by the end of the 0% introductory period and avoid interest, you would need to make monthly payments of about $129. On the other hand, imagine you paid with your standard credit card, which is likely to have a regular rate of 12% or higher. It would therefore take monthly payments of at least $144 to reach zero balance in 21 months, meaning your procedure would cost you at least $315 more.
Similar savings can be extracted by transferring the balance of a medical loan—for which interest rates typically range from 5.9% to 22.99%—to the aforementioned credit card, which gives you 21 months to pay down your balance interest free. The key here is to pay down the balance completely before the 0% introductory rate concludes and an interest rate ranging from 11.99% to 20.99% kicks in. A credit card payoff calculator is a great tool for determining the monthly payments necessary to become debt free before the intro rate concludes.
Ultimately, there is no escaping the fact that cosmetic surgery is expensive. And since most insurance policies do not cover it, finding a payment method that helps minimize the cost of a procedure is advisable. A credit card can be that payment method. So when you’re thinking plastic surgery, think plastic payment. Both your body and your wallet will be happy you did.
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