Credit card issuers offer customer support in response to coronavirus

As COVID-19 continues to threaten public health and the U.S. economy, credit card issuers are offering assistance programs for cardholders who may be financially impacted by the outbreak. These programs can help you stay in good standing with your issuer in the short term and protect your credit score lasting effects.

Here’s an overview of what’s on offer so far, and other options you might have if you’re having trouble paying:

Assistance to issuers

In response to the virus outbreak, several issuing banks have issued statements regarding their continued monitoring and response to customers. For credit card holders in particular, here’s what each issuer said:

American Express

Affected American Express cardholders can register at financial hardship program. Eligible cardholders can enroll in a short-term payment plan, which lasts up to 12 months, or a long-term payment plan, which lasts 36 or 60 months.

Cardholders enrolled in both payment plans may receive lower monthly minimum payments and interest rates, as well as some waived fees. But there are key differences between the two. Under the short-term payment plan, cardholders can continue to use the credit card, but with a reduced limit. Long Term Payment Plan cardholders cannot use their card while enrolled.

As long as you follow the program guidelines, Amex will report your account to the credit bureaus as current.

Bank of America

Bank of America cardholders can ask payment assistance by calling the number on the back of their card. According to an August 2020 report from the New York TimesBank of America may waive payments but will not waive interest.

Barclays

Customers in financial difficulty can request payment relief in line. If your current financial assistance has ended, additional assistance may be available.

Capital one

Anyone experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic should contact Capital One directly to find a solution.

“We understand the concern and uncertainty people may feel regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are committed to meeting the needs of our customers and associates as the situation evolves,” a spokesperson said. from Capital One via email. “We also understand that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial hardship. Capital One is here to help, and we encourage customers who may be affected to contact us so that we can discuss and assist. to find a solution.

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Affected cardholders can apply for payment assistance by online registration. Previously, the issuer’s website stated that cardholders could delay up to three payments, but it no longer specifies the exact number of payment deferrals available. The website currently states that cardholders may “be able to defer a payment.”

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Eligible Citi Credit Card Holders may utilize “always on” assistance programs, which include line of credit increases and collection forbearance options. Citi has also started authorizing cardholders use Thank you points for minimum payments. Although many issuers allow you to use rewards as statement credit, you will generally still be required to make the minimum payment.

According to an issuer representative, cardholders are encouraged to reach out if they need assistance so Citi can work with them one-on-one to understand their unique needs and provide support accordingly. You can call directly or log into your online account to request assistance digitally.

Discover

In a 2020 statement, Discover said it “will extend assistance to qualified customers who are experiencing financial hardship caused by the spread of COVID-19. Discover customers may receive assistance which may include scheduling assistance of payment, costs and late payment.

According to Discover’s website, card customers should call 1-800-497-2816 or message directly through the online account center or in the mobile app.

Goldman Sachs (Apple Card)

At the start of the pandemic, Apple Card customers could skip monthly payments without incurring additional interest charges. The issuer’s website no longer offers specific help for cardholders and directs people to customer service representatives instead.

Federal Navy

Federal Navy aid program for members in response to coronavirus previously included credit card limit increases. The website no longer mentions the specific relief the bank is willing to offer.

Synchrony

Synchrony, which issues retail credit cards for many popular national brands such as Lowe’s, Sam’s Club and PayPal, is available to help cardholders affected by the coronavirus and will work with customers one-on-one, according to an email statement. mail.

Customers facing financial difficulties should contact Synchrony and contact the issuer’s customer service teams to discuss options. These can include assessing credit limits to help with purchasing power and waiving fees on Synchrony Bank deposit accounts if necessary.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo customers experiencing difficulties related to the coronavirus and needing assistance can register online. The issuer assesses the needs on a case-by-case basis.

Contact your issuer

If you’re struggling financially and struggling to meet your minimum payments, some issuer-specific options may not be right for you.

“I wouldn’t recommend forbearance unless you’re really desperate, because interest is still running,” says Ted Rossman, industry analyst at Bankrate. “All of this would save you from paying the monthly minimum for a while, but you would end up paying extra later.”

Forbearance plans offered by your issuer may include deferring payments for several months, reducing minimum monthly payments, or even eliminating certain fees. But you should consider abstaining as a last resort. Contact your issuer first to discuss your personal situation.

“If you’re really in trouble, contact your credit card company and explain your specific situation,” Rossman says. “Maybe they can give you a better deal.”

“Most credit card issuers have off-menu options for those in financial difficulty,” says Bruce McClary, vice president of communications and spokesperson for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “All it takes is to be honest about your situation when speaking with the account representative and asking direct questions about available short-term hardship programs.”

Consider other options

Rossman also recommends looking beyond your transmitter for other options. If you have a emergency savings, this can be a moment that requires delving into it. If your credit is healthy enough to qualify for a card with a zero percent introductory rate on balance transfers, this could help avoid increased interest payments for a few months. You may want to consult a Personal loan also with a lower interest rate.

Learn more: What does zero percent mean?

Also consider asking for help within your community. Look for resources such as community centers and places of worship or even friends and neighbors.

“If the problem is serious enough to last more than a few months to get back on track, or if your accounts are already seriously delinquent, it is best to contact a non-profit credit counseling agency like those affiliated with the NFCCsaid McClary.

This story was originally published on March 10, 2020. As Bankrate continues to monitor credit card issuers’ responses to the coronavirus, this page is being updated.

Aurora J. William