6 of 6

Fertility on a Budget

Lesson 6 of 6

Loans, Credit Cards, & Money-Saving Tips

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Loans

Many patients opt to finance their treatment through loans and credit cards. There are several options to consider if you plan to use this option, which we unpack here.

As always, the options available to you may vary by region, and the information here should not be taken as financial advice.

Fertility Loans

Lenders that focus specifically on fertility financing typically partner with doctors’ offices, and you can usually use this type of financing only if your doctor offers it. Fertility-specific lenders may not have the best interest rates, but the doctor’s office typically coordinates with the lender and receives the funds directly, removing some of the headache patients may face obtaining financing on their own. One of the most well-known fertility lenders pre-approves patients within 24 hours.

Credit Union Loans

Many banks no longer offer personal loans but credit unions typically still do. These personal installment loans have fixed rates with monthly payments. Credit unions are often a useful choice for personal loans as they usually have amongst the lowest interest rates available and can be open to lending to members with less-than-stellar credit. Federal credit unions are required to cap their interest rates at 18%, which is lower than consumers with bad credit would get with other financing options.

The downsides: Credit union loans usually require a lot of paperwork and documentation, and they can take longer to be approved than online options. Additionally, credit unions often require a hard credit check in the application process for you to see your rate, which can temporarily ding your credit. But if you’re able to wait and your credit score can take a minor bump, the lower interest rates can be worth it.

Who It’s Best for: Patients who prioritize a low interest rate over speed or patients who have credit issues

Amount you can borrow: Varies by credit union

APR: Typically from 7% to 18%

Term options: Vary by credit union

Fees: Some credit unions require an application fee

Online Personal Loans

If you can’t get a loan through a credit union, or if you’re in a hurry to pay for treatment, online installment loans are often approved and funded faster than credit union loans, sometimes within one day. Another perk: online loans may have more options than credit unions when it comes to term length and the amount you can borrow. Interest rates are fixed and can be low for those with excellent credit. Patients with credit issues may face steep annual percentage rates. Additionally, some lenders charge percentage-based origination fees, which are based on your credit (the better your credit, the smaller the fee).

Some lenders with experience offering loans for fertility treatments include Prosper, Lending Club, and LightStream. Please contact each individually to confirm the details of their offering.

Home Equity Loan & Second Mortgages

Some patients have successfully leveraged the equity in their home to pay for treatment. How helpful this option will be is largely dependent on the borrower’s financial and credit circumstances. Since interest rates fluctuate over time, this may be a more attractive option when interest rates are lower. It’s important to discuss this option with a financial advisor before starting the process.

Credit Cards

If you can’t qualify for a credit union or online personal loan, or if you need to finance a small portion of treatments, credit cards could be an option. Credit cards typically have lower credit limits than the amount you could borrow with a loan, and you won’t know your credit limit until you are approved. Additionally, interest rates can be lofty — especially if your credit score is low — and carrying a high balance can hurt your credit.

But if you qualify, zero-interest cards can be a useful way to help fund at least some of your fertility treatments, especially if you need to borrow a few thousand dollars to meet an insurance deductible. Some cards offer no interest for up to 21 months, giving you time to pay the balance before interest kicks in.

Who they’re best for: Patients who need to finance a portion of treatment or can get a zero-interest card and pay off the balance before the interest-free period is up

APR: As low as 10% for cards from credit unions, or 11% to 24% for cards with big issuers

Fees: Some cards have annual fees

Minimum FICO score: Typically a score of at least 630 is needed

Grants

There are many fertility grants offered across the US by a variety of organizations. Some grants focus on particular patient populations (for example, patients with a cancer diagnosis), others are open to anyone.

Grants often have eligibility criteria (such a specific income) and many require a fee in order to apply. That said, for many patients, the cost, time, & effort to apply may be well worth it.

We have a comprehensive list of grants in the US you may be eligible for here.

Additionally, some clinics offer in-house grants or discounts that you may be eligible for.

Money-Saving Pro-tips

Ask about relevant discounts

  • Some clinics offer discounts for members of the military, teachers, and other essential workers.

Ask your OB/GP to order tests

  • When you’re setting up a consult with a fertility specialist, call ahead to ask about what kind of bloodwork they will need. See if your GP or OB can order it for you.
  • Discuss with your doctor what types of insurance codes they are able to use for the order. For example, using the code “infertility” may result in the claim being denied, but “irregular menstrual cycle” may be covered. When applicable, ask if your doctor can use a code that is more likely to be covered by insurance.

Ask your insurance about discounts

  • Some insurance plans that do not cover infertility sponsor programs for self-pay patients that provide discounts.

Ask your clinic about need-based assistance

  • Some clinics are able to offer discounts based on your personal and financial situation. New York, specifically, offers a program that provides coverage for IVF patients, though there is often a long waiting list.

Understand the process for disputing and appealing denied claims

  • Keep track of all conversations you have about money, especially with your insurance company. Write down the name, date, time of the call, and the name of the person you spoke with. This can be incredibly helpful later if you need to dispute a charge.

Don’t overpay for medications

  • Price compare at pharmacies and ask for a price match if you find a lower priced option.
  • Only order the medications you need a few days at a time so that you don’t over buy and end up with extras.
  • If you qualify, sign up for the Compassionate Care discount for your fertility medications.

Utilize available tax deductions

  • Keep a log of everything you have paid related to treatment, prescriptions written by your doctor, and your receipts—including “extras” like acupuncture and travel related to treatment. You may be eligible for tax deductions.
  • Utilize pre-tax dollars from HSA and FSA when possible.