The Best Credit Cards For Doctors

The Best Credit Cards For Doctors

The Best Credit Cards For Doctors

If there’s one career that constantly pulls you in different directions, it’s being a doctor. Not only do physicians have to understand the unbelievably complex human body, but some have to manage their own healthcare practices as well. And while patient health is the primary goal of practicing medicine, a doctor’s office is also a small business that needs the right tools to get the job done. The right business credit card can offer these business owners valuable perks and cardholder benefits to help their medical practices thrive.

What to Look for in a Credit Card for Your Medical Practice

As a physician, you may be considering two different types of credit cards— and we’re not talking about Visa or MasterCard: 

A business credit card. This type of credit card is appropriate for physicians with their own healthcare practices, or who operate as independent contractors and want to use a credit card to pay for business expenses. 

Keep in mind that some business credit cards often have different terms and cardholder protections than consumer credit cards. In addition, some business credit cards report to personal credit only if you miss payments, while others will report all account activity. Business credit cards can also be used to build a business credit history with the major business credit bureaus.

A personal credit card. This type of credit card will be appropriate for personal purchases. These cards can also be quite rewarding. Some business owners pair a personal credit card with a business credit card to earn even more rewards. 

How Business Credit Cards Can Benefit Doctors

The two main benefits of these types of cards are rewards and improved cash flow. With rewards, you or your business can earn cash back or travel rewards such as points toward travel, travel insurance, access to airport lounges, etc. Sign-up bonuses, whether in the form of bonus cash back rewards or bonus miles, can increase the initial value of a rewards card significantly.

The other major benefit to your business is cash flow. If you pay your bill in full you’ll likely avoid interest charges. Depending on the timing of purchases, you can benefit from the “float” (use of the credit card issuer’s funds) for a month or more. In addition, some cards offer introductory APRs of 0% which may apply to purchases, balance transfers, or both. This gives you the opportunity for interest-free financing for 6-15 months, depending on the offer.

Best Credit Cards for Doctors

1. American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card offers cardmembers a solid rewards program along with an appealing welcome offer.

  • Rewards: Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%.
  • Welcome offer: Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months.
  • Intro APR: 0% on purchases for 12 months from date of account opening.

Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage are included as well as numerous benefits as part of the American Express’s OPEN for business program.

  • Standard APR: 16.24% - 24.24% Variable.
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 2.7% of each transaction after conversion to US dollars.

2. The Plum Card® from American Express

One of the problems with running a medical practice is that the payments from patients and insurance companies don’t always line up exactly with your expenses. The Plum Card® from American Express can help your practice smooth out cash flow by offering you 60 days to pay with no interest charges.

Paying early pays off: get a 1.5% Early Pay Discount on your statement on the amount paid within 10 days of your statement closing date and no cap on what you can earn back.

  • Annual Fee: $250
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: None

3. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

If you’re looking for a personal credit card with excellent travel rewards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a consistent top travel card pick. 

It has an extremely lucrative welcome offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.. Ongoing travel rewards are solidly competitive: Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.

Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel. In addition, with Pay Yourself BackSM, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.

This card also comes with trip cancellation/interruption insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver, lost luggage insurance and more.

The annual fee on this card is $95 and there’s a $0 foreign transaction fees. If you’re willing to pay a much higher annual fee (currently $550), you may want to consider the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card for even more points and rewards including a Global Entry or TSA Pre-check fee credit.

4. Citi Rewards+® Card

The Citi Rewards+® Card is a personal credit card that offers very competitive rewards, a 0% introductory APR and a solid welcome offer. Highlights include:

  • Rewards: Earn 2X ThankYou® Points at Supermarkets and Gas Stations for the first $6,000 per year and then 1X Points thereafter. Plus, earn 1X ThankYou® Points on All Other Purchases. For a limited time, earn 5 ThankYou® Points per $1 spent at restaurants up to $6,000 in the first 12 months and 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent thereafter.
  • Welcome offer: Earn 20,000 bonus points after you spend $1,500 in purchases with your card within 3 months of account opening; redeemable for $200 in gift cards at thankyou.com.
  • Intro APR: 0% for 15 months on Purchases and Balance Transfers.

The Citi Rewards+® Card is the only credit card that automatically rounds up to the nearest 10 points on every purchase – with no cap.

  • Purchase APR: 16.49% - 26.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: 3%

How to Apply for a Credit Card as a Doctor

The best way to apply for a business credit card is online. You can apply 24/7 and get a decision almost instantly in most cases. Whether you are applying for a personal or business credit card you’ll need to supply information about your personal finances; specifically your income. You can include income from all sources, not just your practice, if you choose. 

If you are applying for a business credit card, you’ll also need to supply information about your business, including its Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN). 

Business credit cards often have different terms and cardholder protections than consumer credit cards. Some business credit cards report to your personal credit scores only if you miss payments, for example, while others will report additional account activity like balances. Business credit cards can also be used to build a business credit history with the major business credit bureaus, depending on whether they report your account activity. You can check your business and personal credit scores for free on Nav to see how your credit cards are impacting your scores.

How to Qualify for a Credit Card as a Doctor

Most credit card issuers require a personal credit check, regardless of whether you apply for a small business or personal credit check. Most cards require good to excellent credit scores. A few business credit cards also check business credit scores. (You can review your business credit for free with Nav.) 

Note that the high income most physicians earn will likely help you qualify for a high credit limit. In most cases this will benefit your credit scores.

Are There Credit Cards Specifically for Doctors?

Not exactly. There are credit card providers that tailor to members of the healthcare industry, like the NIH Federal Credit Union. This credit union offers several personal and business credit cards to its members in the National Institute of Health family. 

However, these credit cards are essentially the same as regular business or personal credit cards. There are perks for healthcare professionals who use this type of credit card provider — like it may be easier to qualify for a card with this type of bank if you have a low credit score. But credit cards for doctors aren’t necessarily different from other credit cards on the market.

Can You Get a Credit Card if You Have Student Loan Debt?

If you’re a doctor, you likely have a lot of student loan debt from your years in college. But these loans shouldn’t make a big difference on your ability to qualify for a credit card. 

Student loans are installment debt, or debt you pay a specific amount on each month. And installment debt doesn’t affect your credit score as much as other types. Your credit card balance has a much larger credit impact, for example. 

Additionally, credit card issuers know that you have a high income, so you should be able to pay your bill. Because of this, you’ll look less risky in the card issuers’ eyes and be in a better position to get approved.

Other Financing Options for Doctors

Credit cards can be great for earning rewards and for short-term financing. But if you are looking for medical business loans, keep in mind you’ll have a variety of small business loan options to consider.

Line of credit: Every medical practice should have access to a line of credit for working capital and cash flow purposes. Banks and credit unions typically offer the lowest rates, but getting a line of credit from an online lender will be much faster and likely require less paperwork. 

Term loans: If you are renovating or expanding your office a term loan can be a good option. In particular, the SBA 504 loan can be extremely cost effective. 

Equipment financing: If you are investing in equipment, consider medical equipment financing or equipment leasing. This type of financing can be very cost effective and may offer tax advantages as well as asset protection benefits. 

Personal loans: Finally, if you need to borrow longer-term for personal purchases you may want to consider a personal loan. You’ll have predictable payments, usually over a period of 1-5 years. 

This article was originally written on August 14, 2017 and updated on August 5, 2022.

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