The economics of proper oral health can be discouraging. This is a subject we've discussed often on our blog, and for good reason: the number of Americans without adequate dental insurance coverage and the high retail cost of out of pocket dental services leads to patients neglecting oral health best practices.
If there is a silver lining around this cloud, however, it’s the fact that dentists have recognized the need for affordable dental care, and some provide creative financing and other low- or no-cost options to put oral health back within reach of most Americans.
Among the many options available, some of the most popular include dental discount cards and dental credit cards.
But are these just variations of the same thing? What’s the difference, and does it matter which you choose?
What is a dental discount card?
A dental discount card can be used through a membership plan that you can join for a small monthly or annual fee. In return, the plan provides you access to a list of participating dental professionals who have agreed to offer a set discount off their normal retail cost for oral health services. Upon making an appointment, you can simply present your card, receive your services, then pay the discounted bill as you normally would.
While they all offer savings on the cost of dental services, dental discount plans differ in which services are included and at what discount levels. For example, the Dental Solutions dental discount card automatically includes the entire household, so there is no need for an individual or family plan. All those factors should be taken into consideration before settling on the discount plan that makes the most sense for you. Explore the details of the Dental Solutions discount dental plan.
What is a dental credit card?
As its name suggests, a dental credit card is actually a credit card much like the one you may have in your wallet already, except that it’s designed strictly for use on dental (or, in some cases, all medical) expenses. For that reason, they are designed with features such as special promotional financing offers and packages that include complementary services to help pay for various healthcare-related expenses.
"A dental discount card can be used through a membership plan that you can join for a small monthly or annual fee. In return, the plan provides you access to a list of participating dental professionals who have agreed to offer a set discount off their normal retail cost for oral health services."
In most cases, dental credit cards are not processed through the large credit card company systems like MasterCard, Visa, or Discover, and they will have a list of participating providers that have agreed to accept the card as payment. Like other credit cards, however, they offer the option of deferring payment for needed services until a later date and/or spreading a large fee out over several months to fit your budget.
For most dental credit cards, approval of your application will be based on your credit history, so it is possible to apply and not be approved, or to learn that the interest rate may not be as low as initially advertised.
Due diligence is recommended as any credit card can be detrimental to your financial health if not managed appropriately.
What are the similarities and differences between them?
In short, the purpose of both these options is to make it easier and more convenient for the average person to be able to afford adequate oral health care even if dental insurance is not practical or possible for them.
A dental discount card offers a guaranteed discount to help you save money off the full price of services. On the other hand, a dental credit card helps you finance the costs of services through interest-based payments over time.
Does it matter which you choose?
A number of different factors must be considered before determining which dental financing option is best for you and your unique circumstances, and thorough research is highly recommended. The most important point to keep in mind is the importance of prioritizing your oral health as opposed to neglecting it due to costs.
Ultimately, anyone joining a discount dental plan and applying for a dental credit card share the same goal: receiving the preventive and recommended treatments necessary to keep your teeth and gums in prime shape.
Interested in learning more about how a dental discount card works? Learn how you can automatically save 20% to 50% off your dental bill below.