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How To Pay For A Pet Emergency

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Many pet owners are willing to do anything to give their animal companions the care they deserve, even if it means taking a hit to their bank accounts. As many as 78% of Americans said they would consider going into debt to cover a pet emergency, according to a March 2023 report by Consumer Affairs. Of that 78%, 43% said they would go into debt for their pet while 35% said they might. While the statistic may seem heartwarming, keep in mind that getting too deep into debt can have adverse consequences on your personal finances.

Below, CNBC Select dives into a few ways to make pet emergencies more affordable so you’re only turning to debt as a last resort.

How to pay for a pet emergency

Get a pet insurance policy

Pet insurance can help cover some of these unexpected medical expenses. A basic policy might only cover accidents and/or illnesses, but some policies can also cover things like routine wellness expenses. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, accident and illness coverage for dogs costs an average of $53.34 per month (the number is much lower at $16.70 for accident-only coverage).

Still, though, $53.34 per month is a small price to pay to avoid paying completely out of pocket for your pet to be treated when they’re sick or are involved in some sort of accident.

There are lots of solid pet insurance companies available, but CNBC Select ranks Spot Pet Insurance as the best overall. That’s largely thanks to its wide variety of maximum annual coverage options, deductible options and reimbursement choices that make it easy for policyholders to tailor their coverage to their pet’s needs (and their budgets). Spot also offers a 10% discount for insuring multiple pets.

Spot Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    Spot Pet Insurance offers accident and illness and accident-only coverage for cats and dogs. It has a variety of choices of reimbursement rates, annual limits (including an unlimited policy), and deductibles to cater your coverage to your needs and budget. The option to cover preventative care procedures and exams (including a dental cleaning and wellness exam) for an extra fee is available.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    There are no upper age limits for new enrollments to Spot and plans include coverage for microchipping. Spot also offers access to a 24/7 veterinary helpline to address questions about wellness and health concerns.

Pros

  • Accident and illness plans are available, with wellness options available
  • Access to a 24/7 veterinary helpline included with coverage
  • 10% discounts for additional pets

Cons

  • Pets must be eight weeks old to enroll
  • A 14-day waiting period applies for coverage

Lemonade is also a good choice for pet insurance provider, and it offers plenty of discounts. That includes a 5% discount when you pay annually, a 10% discount for bundling pet insurance with another one of their insurance products (i.e., homeowners insurance, renters insurance, etc.) and a 5% discount for paying for two or more pets.

Lemonade Pet Insurance

  • Cost

    The best way to estimate your costs is to request a quote

  • Policy highlights

    Lemonade offers affordable pet insurance options for base accident and illness coverages, while wellness options are available for an extra cost. There are a variety of additions you can make to a policy, including things like coverage for behavioral conditions, coverage for acupuncture and chiropractic care, and coverage for dental illnesses.

  • App available

  • Standout features

    A special puppy/kitten preventative care package is available for an extra cost, which can help pay for the cost of vaccines, parasite testing, microchipping and spay or neutering procedures. Lemonade also offers injury coverage with a short 2-day waiting period.

Pros

  • Available option to bundle with homeowners or renters insurance
  • 2-day waiting period for injury coverage

Cons

  • Only available in 37 states

Build a pet emergency fund

Most pet owners wouldn’t hesitate to call a seriously sick or injured pet an emergency. So why don’t you have a fund set aside for such an unfortunate incident? Putting money aside in an emergency fund would create your first line of financial defense if you lack pet insurance coverage.

You can either lump your pet emergency fund in with your regular emergency fund or keep the two separate — the choice is yours. Just remember to keep your emergency fund in a high-yield savings account so you can earn interest on your balance, which will help it grow even faster. High-yield savings accounts pay you more in interest compared to traditional savings accounts.

Of course, you won’t earn hundreds of dollars in interest each month but every dollar counts and it’s still better than earning barely any interest at all.

The UFB High Yield Savings currently offers one of the highest APY’s earning up to 5.25%. So it can be ideal for anyone who wants to earn a higher amount of interest on their balance (just keep in mind that APY’s are subject to change at any time).

The Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings is also a popular choice since it doesn’t charge fees for excessive transactions, overdrafts, or monthly maintenance. It’s a fairly straightforward savings account.

UFB High Yield Savings

UFB High Yield Savings is offered by Axos Bank, a Member FDIC.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

  • Minimum balance

  • Monthly fee

  • Maximum transactions

    No max number of transactions; max transfer amounts may apply

  • Excessive transactions fee

  • Overdraft fee

    Overdraft fees may be charged, according to the terms, but a specific amount is not specified; overdraft protection service available

  • Offer checking account?

  • Offer ATM card?

Marcus by Goldman Sachs High Yield Online Savings

Goldman Sachs Bank USA is a Member FDIC.

  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

  • Minimum balance

  • Monthly fee

  • Maximum transactions

    At this time, there is no limit to the number of withdrawals or transfers you can make from your online savings account

  • Excessive transactions fee

  • Overdraft fee

  • Offer checking account?

  • Offer ATM card?

Consider working out a payment plan with your vet

According to Animal Foundation, a nonprofit animal shelter based in Las Vegas, it’s possible to negotiate your bill and even work out a payment plan with your pet’s veterinarian. Having a payment plan can take some of the stress out of making a large lump sum payment. You’ll be able to break it up into smaller monthly installments that may better fit your budget.

The site also suggests comparison shopping if your pet needs a certain treatment or procedure. By asking around at different animal clinics, you can try to get the lowest price possible for your pet’s treatment. Of course, this is best geared toward non-emergency treatments; if your pet requires emergency treatment you likely don’t have time to comparison shop.

Lastly, you can also look into financial aid for your pet’s medical costs. The Animal Foundation lists several financial aid opportunities that are accepting applications. There’s no guarantee, but you could potentially get the entire treatment covered with no out-of-pocket costs for you.

Use a 0% intro APR credit card

If you’ve exhausted your other options and have to take on debt to pay for your pet’s medical emergency, you’re better off using a credit card that gives you a 0% intro APR period. This way, you won’t be charged interest during the introductory period and you can pay off the entire balance before that period ends.

The Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card, one of our favorite cards in this category, charges 0% intro APR on any new purchases for 12 months after opening the account (and then charges a variable APR 18.24% – 28.99% after that period ends). If you need a little more time without having to worry about interest, the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card‘s 0% intro APR period lasts for 15 months for new purchases (and has a variable APR of 18.24% to 29.24% after that period ends; see rates and fees).

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card

  • Rewards

  • Welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for 21 months on balance transfers; 0% for 12 months on purchases

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum. Balance transfers must be completed within 4 months of account opening.

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

  • Rewards

    2X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1X), 1X Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you make $2,000 in purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening

  • Regular APR

    18.24% to 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit needed

Bottom line

Why trust CNBC Select?

For rates and fees of the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.





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