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Wellness

14 unexpected things you can buy with your FSA

From skin care to travel pillows, purchase these things instead of letting your FSA money expire

fsa-travel-essentials

You can purchase all sorts of unexpected items with your FSA funds, including travel essentials, first-aid kits, heating pads and more.

FSA Store

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) exist for you to save money for out-of-pocket healthcare costs, which more often than not means copayments for doctor's office visits or insurance deductibles.

While it's great to use your FSA funds for those reasons, you might be missing out on some great deals your FSA can provide for you -- whether you're in need of pain relief or pregnancy tests.

Here are some unexpected health items you can buy with your FSA.

Read more: FSA vs. HSA: What's the difference?How to shop at Amazon with your FSA or HSA card

First, a quick disclaimer: The government provides an A-to-Z eligibility list, but if you're ever unsure about what you can or can't purchase with your FSA, be sure to check with the terms of your account first.

1. Skin care

Many skin care products SPF moisturizers and hand cream are FSA-eligible, as are acne treatment and prevention products. You can even buy a light therapy device for acne treatment with your FSA.

Some skin care products, such as toner or spot treatment, require a prescription from your doctor to be eligible. Treatments for conditions such as eczema and rosacea also require a prescription, and anything with mainly cosmetic purposes -- such as chemical peels and microdermabrasion -- does not qualify.

2. Condoms, pregnancy tests and fertility kits

Let your FSA pay for your sexual health and family planning needs. Condoms, pregnancy tests, fertility kits and pregnancy monitors are all FSA-eligible purchases. With a prescription, you can also purchase female contraceptives such as birth control pills, patches and IUDs with FSA money.

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As long as you have a prescription, you can buy sunglasses with your FSA money.

FSA Store

3. Glasses and sunglasses

For those who weren't born with perfect vision, an FSA covers prescription glasses and sunglasses, even high-end brands like Ray-Ban and Versace. Just make sure to visit your optometrist for an updated prescription before purchasing a pair (you can use your FSA to cover the optometry exam, too).

Wear contact lenses instead? You can also pay for those with your FSA money.

4. Staple medications

Over-the-counter medications do require a prescription to be FSA-eligible, but a simple visit to your doctor could allow you to stock up on pain relievers, allergy medicine, heartburn relief, antacids and other medicine cabinet staples. Check the FSA Store's list of eligible OTC medications.

5. Heating and cooling pads

Struggle with lower back pain or nagging injuries? Heating and cooling pads can help, and you can purchase them with FSA funds. Many brands and types are available on the FSA Store online, but you can also just pick one up from your local drugstore.

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Many different first-aid kits are FSA-eligible, including large travel and adventure kits.

FSA Store

6. First-aid kit

Pretty much any first-aid kit is FSA-eligible, and this is one way to get around the prescription required for over-the-counter pain medications: Many first aid kits include travel-sized bottles of pain relievers, and you don't need a prescription to buy a first-aid kit.

7. Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a surprisingly expensive essential -- most cost at least $10 and go up in price significantly from there, depending on the brand you choose. Use your hard-earned FSA dollars to pay for it. SPF lip balm and mineral sunscreen are also covered.

8. Thermometer

Your FSA funds cover a whole range of thermometer types and brands, including smart thermometers. Choose from digital, in-ear, forehead, mouth and other designs.

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9. Blood-pressure monitor

Your FSA funds cover a variety of blood-pressure monitors, including the Quardio Arm, Omron Evolv and the Withings Wireless, all of which are compatible with Apple Watch and iPhone.

10. Other home medical devices

Blood pressure monitors aren't the only at-home medical devices you can purchase with your FSA. You can also buy oximeters, stethoscopes, home medical tests, glucose tests and monitors, CPAP accessories, medical alert devices, emergency equipment such as a defibrillator, inhalers and respiratory masks.

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In addition to home medical devices, you can also buy items like acupressure pads and foam rollers with your FSA card.

FSA Store

11. Breast pump

For new moms, breast pumps and breast pump accessories are covered under an FSA. This includes cleaning wipes, disposable nursing pads, reusable baby bottles, tote bags and breast milk coolers.

12. Shoe inserts and foot care

You can buy shoe inserts, as well as toe cushions and arch braces, with your FSA. Wart removers and other foot grooming treatments, such as callus trimmers, are also qualified FSA expenses. You may even be able to purchase a foot massager with your FSA.

13. Sleep aids

Oral sleep aids are only eligible with a prescription from your doctor, but you can purchase sleep masks, vaporizers, bed warmers and other non-prescription sleep aids with your FSA funds.

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Memory foam neck pillows are just one of many sleep and travel products you can buy with FSA money.

FSA Store

14. Travel preparation

According to the IRS Publication 502, you can't pay for a vacation with your FSA money -- but you can buy travel essentials with those funds. For example, travel pillows, sunscreen, motion sickness bands and more are all eligible FSA expenses.

Bonus: Alternative medicine

Wanting to try out acupuncture, chiropractic care or another complementary medical treatment? This ultimately depends on your employer, but many businesses allow employees to use their FSA funds for these kinds of health treatments.

If your employer does allow you to use FSA money for this, make sure to check with the clinic or practice you want to visit, too.

Some new tech-driven health clinics like Forward Health also take FSA accounts to pay for membership fees. 

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