Business closures in response to coronavirus have left many service workers temporarily without income. Without a clear indication of when businesses will reopen, workers will have to find ways to make ends meet in the meantime. Of course, this includes paying outstanding bills.
Thankfully, banks are sympathetic to the pressure placed on their customers and are taking action. Many issuers have created Covid-19 relief pages highlighting how the bank is handling the pandemic and directing cardholders to contact the bank in the event of hardship caused by coronavirus.
Several of these pages list the hardship and assistance programs already available to cardholders, while others simply promise help based on individual needs. Below are the issuers that have published a response to coronavirus, what types of assistance they’re offering, and where you can go to request help.
|American Express||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstance||Call: 866-703-4169|
|Apple||Customer Assistance Program||Enroll through received email|
|Bank of America||Yes — consumer and small business cardholders can request to defer payments and receive refunds on late fees.||Reach through Contact us page|
|BBVA||Yes — credit card payment deferrals and extensions, waived and refunded ATM fees for using other bank ATMs||Call: 844-222-3862|
|Capital One||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstance||Reach through Contact us page|
|Chase||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstance. Credit card deferral — credit card payment deferral for up to 3 payments.||Call number on back of your credit or debit card|
|Citi||Yes — credit line increases, collection forbearance programs||Call number on back of your credit or debit card|
|Citizens Bank||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstances||Call: 800-684-2222|
|Discover||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstance||Call: 800-497-2816|
|Fifth Third Bank||Credit card deferral — credit card payment deferral for up to 3 payments and no late fees during this period||Call: 866-601-6391|
|TD Bank||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstance||Call: 888-751-9000|
|U.S. Bank||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstance||Call: 888-287-7817|
|Wells Fargo||Yes — individual solutions based on your circumstance||Call: 800-219-9739|
Of all the issuers addressing coronavirus concerns, only Apple has created a whole new program dedicated to coronavirus response. As of this writing, enrolling in the assistance program will let you skip Apple Card payment for March without incurring interest or penalty fees.
Since this relief is the same for everyone and clearly explained in their cardholder emails, Apple is arguably leading the charge when it comes to a coronavirus relief for cardholders. Hopefully, other issuers will follow suit with more direct communication on how they can help.
Even when it’s not a national emergency, most banks are willing to work with you during times of financial hardship so that you can continue to make your payments. Your credit card assistance options tend to involve the following:
Due date extensions
If a financial difficulty has made it impossible for you to make a specific payment on time, you can request a due date extension on your balance. This is most helpful for sudden, short-term obstacles, like an unexpected expense prior to your normal payment. For furloughed workers, this might not prove very helpful.
A hardship plan
Ongoing financial difficulties, such as illnesses or loss of income, may qualify you for a hardship plan. A hardship plan can include a variety of changes to your repayment terms, including lower fees, lower APR or a fixed payment schedule.
In some cases, your credit card issuer may offer to waive interest on your balance for a month or more. This is the route Apple has taken with its Customer Assistance Program.
A forbearance program lets you postpone all payments on your credit card for a set period of time. However, you’ll still need to pay off your balance eventually.
What’s more, a forbearance will not necessarily stop your account from accruing interest during your non-payment period. This makes forbearance the least desirable solution if you can’t make your credit card payments. If you’re considering forbearance, have a look at your balance transfer card options first.
Need to float your finances while you wait for work to resume? Or need to stave off interest on your existing credit card debt? Check out these 0% intro APR credit cards to find a card that can help.
No matter the status of your repayment agreement, you’ll want to ensure you have the financial means to make your required payments each month. You can read our full guide for making timely payments, but here are a few quick tips:
- Review your budget. The first step to creating a workable repayment plan is to understand how much income you make each month and how much you spend on essentials.
- Prioritize. You’ll want to move card payments to the top of your list, especially if you’re working with a hardship plan or under the terms of a balance transfer card.
- Set up autopay. Don’t risk forgetting a payment. Set up your automatic card payments through your online credit card account.
Even if your credit card issuer hasn’t released an official statement on coronavirus, you should give them a call if you expect to experience financial hardship. You can also review and apply for a 0% intro APR credit card to take interest out of the equation for a much longer period of time.