Whether you’re looking to adopt a new pet or you’re seeing the medical bills pile up for your current aging pet, believe it or not, your four-legged family member can take a huge toll on your credit score. For future pets, how you acquire it can sometimes make all the difference with your credit score. For current pets, unexpected medical expenses, vet visits and more can all add up to impact your credit utilization ratio. Here’s a closer look at what you should be mindful of when it comes to pets and your credit score:
Caring for an Aging Pet
Just as aging humans typically need more medical care, the same is true with pets. But while humans likely have medical insurance to cover or help offset expenses, pets usually don’t. And when prescriptions, an increased number of vet visits and medical procedures become more frequent, the costs can really add up. If you don’t have the cash on hand, it could drive you into debt. Here’s how to help manage such costs:
- Save for a pet emergency fund: Even setting aside $1,000 a year can really help with your pet’s medical bills.
- Talk to your vet about costs: Just taking your pet to the vet costs money. Speak with your vet to see if they’ll be willing to waive the vet visit fee if you have to take your pet in more than twice a year, for instance. Most vets will work with you this way to retain your business.
- Look into pet health insurance options: While still fairly uncommon, there are options out there. Before selecting one, be sure that it makes sense for you and your pet’s situation.
Acquiring a New Pet
- Are you buying or leasing your pet? Yes, leasing, or renting, a pet is a thing – you might just not know that you’re doing it. Many pet stores offer financing plans for their more expensive pets, but what they won’t tell you is that the pet is technically still theirs until you pay it off. Any financing agreement impacts your credit reporting, and while financing a pet could be a good thing in terms of building credit history, it could also be a bad thing too if you don’t stay up with payments or if the pet store is unethical about the process.
- Speaking of unethical pet stores, many experts state that you should try to use credit cards as payment to adopt pets. Why? Because if something goes awry or the pet store disputes the purchase, you have a paper trail of the transaction. A credit card can help prove that the pet belongs to you. It can also be an ally in your corner if there’s something wrong with the pet in terms of getting a refund if the pet store is uncooperative.
We love our pets. To many, they’re part of the family. But don’t let your furry family member lead you into financially troubling times.