What’s the best credit card to use for hospital or medical bills?
That’s one of the most common questions I get, but also the hardest to answer. Hard, because there are a heck of a lot of permutations, and I don’t want to steer anyone wrong. Given how expensive hospital bills can be, the pain of using the wrong card could well send you right back inside.
But since most of us will probably end up in a hospital at some point in our lives, let’s attempt to provide some structure to this question, and see if we can work out a few general principles.
|💳 What’s the best card for…|
|This guide forms part of the “best card” series. Check out other category specific guides below, or the overall guide here.|
|💗 Charitable Donations | 🏫 Education | 🥡 Food Delivery | 🏥 Hospital Bills | ☂️ Insurance | ⛽ Petrol | 🚍 Public Transport| 🚰 Utilities Bills|
How are hospitals classified?
It’s first necessary to understand how hospitals are classified in Singapore. Here’s how the MOH organizes things:
1. Alexandra Hospital
|1. Bright Vision
2. Jurong Community
3. Outram Community
4. Sengkang Community
5. Yishun Community
|Not-for-Profit||1. Mount Alvernia||1. AMK- Thye Hua Kwan Hospital
2. Ren Ci Community
3. St Andrew’s Community
4. St Luke’s
|Private||1. Concord International
2. Farrer Park
4. Mount Elizabeth
5. Mount Elizabeth Novena
6. Parkway East
7. Raffles Hospital
8. Thomson Medical Centre
|🏥 What about restructured hospitals?|
|You may hear the term “restructured hospital” mentioned in insurance materials. This is basically a public hospital. As per the MOH: “The Government has restructured all its acute hospitals and specialty centres to be run as private companies wholly owned by the government. This is to enable the public hospitals to have the management autonomy and flexibility to respond more promptly to the needs of the patients.”|
The following specialist centres are also classified as public institutions:
Why does the classification matter? Because it affects the hospital’s MDR (Merchant Discount Rate- the fee paid to accept credit card payments).
In general, public and non-profit hospitals pay lower MDRs, while private facilities pay higher. The lower the MDR, the less profit the banks make on a transaction, and the less likely they are to offer credit card rewards.
What MCC do hospitals code as?
There are two main MCCs that hospitals can code as:
- 8062: Hospitals
- 9399: Government Services Not Elsewhere Classified
The MCC distinction is important, because almost every bank excludes 9399 from earning points, but not every bank excludes 8062.
Do note that despite the government association, most public hospitals don’t actually code under 9399. Instead, most fall under 8062, such as Changi General, NUH, and SGH.
If this wasn’t complicated enough, it’s possible that within a given hospital, different departments may bill differently. For instance, Ng Teng Fong’s pharmacy codes as MCC 9399, while Ng Teng Fong itself codes as 8062.
There is no comprehensive list of which hospitals code as what. You can find a few scattered data points on this crowdsourced spreadsheet and on WhatCard, but I can’t vouch to their accuracy or recency.
For what it’s worth, my understanding is that very few hospitals still code under 9399, and most of them would be on 8062 by now.
When in doubt, always test a small amount first and check the MCC with the bank’s CSO.
What credit cards earn rewards for hospital bills?
Here’s a summary of each bank’s policy for transactions made at hospitals:
Except VOYAGE & Visa Infinite
Except on Reserve & Visa Infinite Metal Cards
Awards points on all hospital payments
Let’s start with the simplest one first. All American Express cards will earn points on hospital payments, regardless of the MCC. This makes them the least stressful option to use.
Perhaps the better question is: are AMEX cards accepted in the first place? If so, here’s how many miles you can earn.
|AMEX Solitaire PPS Credit Card||1.3 mpd|
|AMEX PPS Credit Card||1.3 mpd|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend||1.2 mpd|
|AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card||1.1 mpd|
|AMEX Centurion||0.98 mpd
|AMEX Platinum Charge||0.78 mpd
|AMEX Platinum Reserve||0.69 mpd|
|AMEX Platinum Credit Card||0.69 mpd|
|AMEX Rewards Card||0.63 mpd|
Awards points on all hospital payments, except 9399
This is the position the majority of banks take. So long as the transaction does not code under 9399, points will be earned as per the regular T&Cs.
Assuming the MCC is 8062, here’s some cards you can use:
|UOB Reserve||1.6 mpd|
|Citi ULTIMA||1.6 mpd|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card||1.4 mpd|
|SCB Visa Infinite||1.4 mpd
(Min $2K overall spend
per statement, otherwise 1 mpd)
|Citi Prestige||1.3 mpd|
|HSBC Visa Infinite||1.25 mpd
(1 mpd if first year or if
previous year spending <$50K)
|SCB X Card||1.2 mpd|
|Citi PremierMiles||1.2 mpd|
|Maybank Visa Infinite||1.2 mpd|
Does not award points
Don’t bother using any DBS, Bank of China, OCBC or UOB cards in hospitals, because they both exclude the category altogether, regardless of private/public.
Exceptions apply for OCBC VOYAGE, OCBC Premier Visa Infinite, UOB Reserve and UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card cards.
What about other medical facilities?
Based on past data points, polyclinics code as 8062 and not 9399, and hence earn regular credit card rewards (most also accept Paywave, so 4 mpd with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa is possible).
The same logic applies to dentists. Dental treatment at a hospital (or the National Dental Centre) will earn points, subject to the usual 9399 exclusion. If you’re visiting a stand-alone dentist (like Q&M or Nam Seng Dental), it will most likely code as 8021.
To my knowledge, no bank has excluded this category, and you should earn points as per normal.
While it’s increasingly tricky to earn rewards for transactions at hospitals and polyclinics, the good news is that it’s not impossible. If you have a choice of treatment facility, it makes sense to look up its MCC beforehand so you know which card can help you earn the highest rebate.
If you have any more MCC datapoints for medical facilities, please help the community by reporting them below.