BEST OF

5 Medical Loans for Health Care Expenses

Medical loans can be used to refinance existing medical debt or to pay for emergency or planned procedures. Here’s where to find medical loans plus other ways to finance medical expenses.

Steve NicastroFebruary 25, 2020
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Medical loans — which are unsecured personal loans applied toward medical expenses — can be used to consolidate existing medical debt, cover emergency or planned medical procedures like root canals or plastic surgery, or pay for high deductibles and out-of-network charges.

Medical loans are likely the most expensive way to cover your medical costs, and you must have excellent credit to qualify for the lowest rates offered by lenders. For this reason, medical loans should be considered only after you’ve exhausted other options, including payment plans and medical credit cards.

Summary of Medical Loans for Health Care Expenses

Our picks for

Medical loans

Avant

on Avant's website

Avant

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Avant

Min. Credit Score

550

Est. APR

9.95 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $35,000

on Avant's website


Min. Credit Score

550

Key facts

Avant's low starting rates make it a good option for borrowers with low credit scores and income.

Pros

  • Able to fund loans the next business day.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Offers secured loan option.

Cons

  • Charge an origination fee.

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • No co-sign or joint loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 550.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Administrative fee: Up to 4.75%.

  • Late fee: $25 (most states).

  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15 (most states).

Disclaimer

A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33. Minimum loan amounts may vary by state. If approved, the actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. An administration fee of up to 4.75% will be deducted from the loan proceeds. Avant branded credit products are issued by Webbank, member FDIC
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Lightstream

on LightStream's website

LightStream

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lightstream

Min. Credit Score

660

Est. APR

4.49 - 20.49%

Loan Amount

$5,000 - $100,000

on LightStream's website


Min. Credit Score

660

Key facts

LightStream targets strong-credit borrowers with no fees and low rates that vary based on loan purpose. It offers high borrowing amounts for financing costly medical procedures or consolidating medical debts.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Competitive rates among online lenders.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Special features including rate beat program and satisfaction guarantee.

Cons

  • No option to pre-qualify on its website.

  • Requires several years of credit history.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660.

  • Several years of credit history; excellent-credit borrowers have at least five, according to LightStream.

  • Multiple account types within your credit history, like credit cards, a car loan or other installment loan and a mortgage.

  • Strong payment history with few or no delinquencies.

  • Investments, retirement savings or other evidence of an ability to save money.

  • Enough income to pay existing debts and a new LightStream loan.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Your loan terms are not guaranteed and may vary based on loan purpose, length of loan, loan amount, credit history and payment method (AutoPay or Invoice). AutoPay discount is only available when selected prior to loan funding. To obtain a loan, you must complete an application on LightStream.com, which may affect your credit score. You may be required to verify income, identity and other stated application information. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $5,000 loan at 12.8% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $168. Some additional conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. SunTrust now Truist is an Equal Housing Lender. © 2020 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust®, Truist, LightStream®, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by SunTrust now Truist Bank.
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SoFi

on SoFi's website

SoFi

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi

Min. Credit Score

680

Est. APR

5.99 - 18.85%

Loan Amount

$5,000 - $100,000

on SoFi's website


Min. Credit Score

680

Key facts

SoFi is a strong option for good-credit consumers, offering high borrowing amounts, low rates, no fees, and flexible payments.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Offers co-sign and joint loan options.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Offers unemployment protection.

  • Provides mobile app to manage your loan.

Cons

  • No secured loan option.

Qualifications

  • Must legally be an adult in your state.

  • Must be a US citizen, permanent resident or visa holder.

  • Must be employed, have sufficient income or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.85% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of February 25, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
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Upstart

on Upstart's website

Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

8.27 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

on Upstart's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Upstart may be a good fit for borrowers who are new to credit, since the lender considers other factors, including education and employment, in the application process.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with some debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

  • Charges origination fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580.

  • Minimum credit history: None, this lending platform accepts borrowers with credit history too limited to produce a FICO score.

  • Minimum gross income: $12,000.

  • Employment: Full-time job, full-time job offer starting in 6 months, a regular part-time job, or another source of regular income.

  • Must have U.S. residential street address where borrower resides (unless military personnel on active duty).

  • Must be at least 18 years old.

  • Valid email account required.

  • Personal bank account with U.S. routing number required.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 8%.

  • Late fee: 5% of past due amount or $15, whichever is greater.

Disclaimer

● Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5,100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100. ● This offer is conditioned on final approval based on our consideration and verification of financial and non-financial information. Rate and loan amount are subject to change based upon information received in your full application. This offer may be accepted only by the person identified in this offer, who is old enough to legally enter into contract for the extension of credit, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a current resident of the U.S. Duplicate offers received are void. Closing your loan is contingent on your meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to the terms and conditions on the www.upstart.com website. ● The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 3-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 25.79% and 36 monthly payments of $37 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.
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Lending Club

on LendingClub's website

LendingClub

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lending Club

Min. Credit Score

600

Est. APR

8.05 - 35.89%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $40,000

on LendingClub's website


Min. Credit Score

600

Key facts

LendingClub is a pioneer of peer-to-peer lending and an option for fair- to good-credit borrowers.

Pros

  • Offers co-signed and joint loan options.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

Cons

  • Borrowers can only choose from two repayment term options.

  • Rates are high compared to other online lenders.

  • Charges an origination fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 600. LendingClub uses FICO 8 credit scoring model.

  • Minimum credit history of three years.

  • Debt-to-income ratio of less than 40% for single applications, 35% combined for joint applicants.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1% to 6%

  • Late fee: Greater of $15 or 5% of payment after 15-day grace period.

Disclaimer

A representative example of loan payment terms is as follows: you receive a loan of $13,411 for a term of 36 months, with an interest rate of 12.16% and a 5.30% origination fee of $711, for an APR of 15.99%. In this example, you will receive $12,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $446.46. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000 and loan term lengths are 36 months or 60 months. Some amounts and term lengths may be unavailable in certain states. APR ranges from 8.05% to 35.89% and is determined at the time of application. Origination fee ranges from 3% to 6% of the loan amount. Lowest APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit. Advertised rates are subject to change without notice. Loans are made by LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC (“LendingClub Bank”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of LendingClub Corporation, NMLS ID 167439. Loans are subject to credit approval and sufficient investor commitment before they can be funded or issued. Certain information that we subsequently obtain as part of the application process (including but not limited to information in your consumer report, your income, the loan amount that your request, the purpose of your loan, and qualifying debt) will be considered and could affect your ability to obtain a loan from us. Loan closing is contingent on accepting all required agreements and disclosures at Lendingclub.com. “LendingClub” is a trademark of LendingClub Bank.
Read Full Review

Compare medical loans

Here are some key factors to consider when shopping for medical loans.

Annual percentage rate. A loan’s APR represents the true annual cost of borrowing, including interest and fees, helping you make an apples-to-apples cost comparison between loans. APRs on personal loans range from 6% to 36%. You’ll need strong credit to get the lowest rates.

Fixed or variable rates. The loan’s rate can either be fixed (interest costs and payments stay the same), or variable (interest costs and payments can rise or fall, depending on market rates). A fixed-rate loan comes with peace of mind that your payments won’t rise over the loan term.

Origination fee. Some lenders charge one-time origination fees to cover the cost of processing the loan. The fee typically ranges from 1% to 6% and is included in the APR calculation.

Most lenders subtract the origination fee from the loan proceeds; a $10,000 loan with a 3% origination fee would cost $300, leaving you with $9,700.

Loan term. The repayment period length affects your monthly payments. A longer repayment term results in lower monthly payments, but higher total interest paid over the life of the loan. Aim for a loan term with payments that fit within your budget. Use our personal loan calculator to see estimated payments at different loan terms.

Speed. If you need fast funding to cover medical expenses, consider a lender with a quick application to funding process. Some online lenders can provide funding within a day or two, while others can provide funding within a week.

How to pre-qualify for a medical loan

Pre-qualifying for a medical loan with an online lender lets you see potential loan terms, including the loan’s interest rate, loan amount and payments. Take the steps to pre-qualify and compare offers to find the loan that gives you an amount you need and a payment you can afford.

Alternatives to medical loans

There may be better ways to finance a medical procedure or pay medical debt than through a personal loan.

Payment plans. Your best option may be to establish a payment plan with the medical provider and avoid paying interest on the debt if it’s repaid within the term, says Kari Jean Glosser, a financial advisor and partner at Abacus Wealth Partners in Santa Monica, California.

Some health care providers require a deposit followed by monthly payments; others may accept just monthly payments until the debt is repaid in full, says Glosser, who used a payment plan for her own dental surgery.

Ask your medical provider about any fees or charges associated with the payment plan, so you know the full cost of this option.

Medical credit cards. These are specialty credit cards available through many medical providers.

CareCredit is a specialty credit card that offers a short-term financing option at 0% interest if paid in full by the end of the term (6, 12, 18 or 24 months). For longer terms, the APR depends on the purchase amount and term length.

The card, issued through Synchrony bank, is accepted at over 200,000 health care providers. CareCredit’s approval and terms are based on your credit, and not all medical providers offer promotional financing options.

0% credit card. A 0% interest credit card is another option that can include a sign-up bonus and rewards. You’ll need strong credit to qualify, and you must pay off the debt in full before the promotional period expires or you'll pay high interest charges.

It’s best to dedicate a regular credit card for medical expenses only. Mixing medical debt with other purchases makes it harder to keep records for tax deductions or a health savings account, Glosser says.

Other options. If you’re facing hospital bills, a medical bill advocate can help spot potential errors and negotiate on your behalf to have your total bill reduced. Some medical providers may also offer hardship plans for low-income borrowers.

Last updated on February 25, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Medical Loans for Health Care Expenses