Banfield Wellness Plan Review

By | 2018-06-24T16:13:52-04:00 June 10th, 2018|Pet Insurance|1 Comment

Many people think of Banfield Pet Hospital as pet insurance, but in reality, it is an automatically renewing annual wellness plan. It serves as a useful funnel of business to pet hospital facilities for additional medical services, with a ‘discount’ given to wellness plan members.

Banfield was founded by a veterinarian in 1955 in Portland, OR. When it opened its second pet hospital in 1994 inside a PetSmart store, PetSmart saw the strategic advantage of the combination. It invested in Banfield, as did Mars Incorporated. By 2009, Mars owned a controlling interest.

By 2004, one million pets had received preventive care through Banfield’s Optimum Wellness Plans, and by 2007 two million plans had been sold.

Meanwhile, Banfield grew by selling franchises to veterinarians, then re-absorbed them as company-owned pet hospitals. In 2017, it opened its 1,000th hospital in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Today, Banfield offers four basic wellness plans, targeted at puppies, dogs, kittens, and cats.

The Plans  

As Banfield states, its Optimal Wellness Plans offer proactive (as opposed to reactive) pet care. Its plans cover basic wellness and limited illness care at its facilities. They do not cover any emergency or specialist services provided elsewhere.

Puppy Wellness Plan and Kitten Wellness Plan (under six months) are identical: they are offered as ‘Early Care,’ with a ‘Plus’ version that adds spaying or neutering. The plans include comprehensive physical exams, vaccinations, diagnostic testing, fecal exams, dewormings, and unlimited office visits.

Dog Wellness Plan and Cat Wellness Plan (six months or older): offered at three levels (Essential Wellness, Active Prevention and Special Care) which give discounts on the retail cost of other services at 10%, 15%, or 20% respectively. Maximum services include comprehensive physical exams, vaccinations, diagnostic testing, fecal exams, dewormings, dental cleaning, urine testing, electrocardiograms, and unlimited office visits. (Dogs can get preventive x-rays and eye-pressure tests.)

Add-ons: Parasite Control, Spay/Neuter, Additional Dental, Canine Genetic Analysis DNA Test, and Chronic Care options are available.

The Important Details 

Vet Exams: Not required, as plans are not concerned with pre-existing conditions.

Co-Pays and Reimbursement: Do not apply.

Deductibles: No deductibles.

Waiting Periods: No waiting periods.

Renewals: Upon automatic renewal, the new cost of the annual plan will reflect the fee charged at that time to all members at that hospital for that same plan and combination of add-ons.

Pricing: The pet owner commits to an annual fee for a 12-month contract. Monthly installments are deducted directly from a credit card or checking/savings account. Non-Plan services (those not included in the plan) are charged with the appropriate plan discount. Banfield partners with a company called CareCredit if a pet owner needs financing for a costly procedure.

Basic plan fees are the same for all animals in a group: puppies, dogs, kittens, or cats. Location can affect the price. Using the website’s monthly cost calculator for several states for neutered pets under and over six months indicated:

  • Puppy: Early Care $29.95; Early Care Plus $41.95
  • Kitten: Early Care $27.95; Early Care Plus $32.95
  • Dog: Essential Wellness $26.95; Active Prevention $36.95; Special Care $47.95
  • Cat: Essential Wellness $21.95; Active Prevention $30.95; Special Care $37.95

Banfield’s documents refer to a ‘membership fee’ beyond the annual commitment but never specify the amount. Third-party sites refer to a one-time membership fee of around $40.

Banfield offers a multiple-pet discount of $15 on the membership fee for each added pet.

What We Liked Most 

Banfield has convenient evening and weekend hours in facilities that are often located in local PetSmart stores.

Banfield could be an affordable way to budget your pet’s routine care expenses, smoothing out the cost over the year. Unfortunately, anecdotal accounts indicate unending add-ons and upsells beyond the fixed fee. 

What You May Not Like

Banfield makes it extremely difficult to stop a contract from auto-renewing. Also, even if your pet dies, if you try to cancel during the contract year you are obligated to pay the total annual fee.

You must also pay any amount that the undiscounted retail cost of any services rendered to date exceeds that total annual fee. Plans cannot be transferred to another pet or assigned to another person if you must re-home your pet.

Also, Banfield encourages you to ‘drop off’ your pet for a 4-6 hour period, during which it will be attended. Few pet owners want to think of their pet in a carrier for that long.

About the Author:

Sharon O’Day has lived and worked around the globe as a marketer for most of her life. More recently, she has brought her researching and writing skills to the internet, to include writing about pets. Sharon grew up in a dog-loving family, only discovering cats once settled near Miami. Since then, she has shown a series of rescued at-risk kitties how the love can heal early abuse.

One Comment

  1. Paul November 21, 2018 at 11:54 am - Reply

    A little over a year and a half ago I noticed that 1 of my dogs had a tooth that was discolored and had “Plaque” buildup between some her jaw teeth. I took Dolly to Banfield in Columbia, S.C. to get it checked. I had to get the “Wellness Plan” to save some money and pay for Teeth cleaning.. When I got Dolly back the tooth was still discolored and the “Plaque” was still there. I could see where they had scratcher it some with pick type instruments. I have been working with it and have reduced it by about 1/3.
    They sent me a notice that Dolly was due a check-up. I called to see about it and found out that in the FINE PRINT of the contract that they get the right for it to renew and draft your account.
    I finally called the “Main Office (?) @ 1-888-649-2716 and was told that they wouldn’t even Pro-Rate the cost of the plan rolling over. They told me that the amount that I had saved was over $600.00. Other than the “Tooth Cleaning, I remember her getting a check-up w/rabies shot.

    All together I spent a fairly large amount and the main thing that I requested wasn’t done or wasn’t done properly and it cost me a WHOLE extra year’s plan renewal fee. When I called the “Main Office (?)@ 1-888-649-2716 the lady that I spoke to didn’t seem to care or even act like this was a Nice way to conduct a business that deals with an animal that is not only a companion but like a child.

    As “Forrest Gump” would say :”and that’s all I have to say about that”

    A VERY UPSET EX-CUSTOMER of BANFIELD Animal services, hospital (a matter of opinion),Vetranarian or whatever, Paul N. in South Carolina

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