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How Banks and Credit Card Issuers are Helping Consumers During the COVID-19 Crisis

How Banks and Credit Card Issuers are Helping Consumers During the COVID-19 Crisis

Economic upheaval caused by COVID-19 will come with some inevitable consequences, and that’s particularly true when it comes to consumer finances. Some experts are saying that job losses could easily outpace those caused by the Great Recession, and the pain will run much deeper in industries hit hard by social distancing such as hospitality and travel, retail, gaming, sports, and entertainment.

How will consumers who lose their income keep up with their bills? And how will they avoid letting this hardship lead them toward a lifetime of bad credit? Many people will inevitably fall behind, which is part of the reason the federal government is working on a stimulus package that includes cash payments to Americans.

How Are Credit Card Issuers Helping Consumers?

Banks and lenders are also doing their part to lessen the damage and make keeping up with bills considerably easier. Further, most credit card issuers have a page on their website by now that explains how they may be able to help customers in the midst of financial hardship due to job loss or a loss in income. Here’s how some of the major card issuers are handling the crisis:

Image Name American Express®

American Express® says you can use their online chat tool or call their financial hardship program at 866-703-4169 in order to talk over your options. American Express® may be able to lower your monthly credit card payment, lower your interest rate, or waive late fees if you need to pay your credit card bill beyond its due date.

Image Name Bank of America®

Bank of America® has a new page on their website with information on how to contact them to talk over your payment options. “Contact us and our teammates will work with you to create a solution tailored to your particular situation,” they write. They also link to an online form that lets you apply for a payment deferral.

Image Name Barclays®

If you have a Barclays® credit card, their contact page is a good place to start the process. Barclays has said they may allow customers experiencing financial hardship to skip a payment or receive a credit line increase. They may also be willing to waive late payment and cash advance fees for customers who meet their hardship criteria.

Image Name Capital One

Capital One also has a page on their website with information for customers dealing with the financial fallout from COVID-19. They don’t discuss specific options they’re offering customers who can’t pay their bills, but they do say they encourage customers who may be impacted or need assistance to reach out so they can discuss and “find a solution for you.”

Image Name Chase®

Chase® also has a page on their website for customers seeking help with their Chase® loan and credit card accounts. Currently, the bank says they have new payment options for mortgage customers. They also say that you should call the number on the back of your credit card if you need to talk over your options when it comes to your accounts or payments.

Image Name Citi®

Citibank’s® webpage on coronavirus says the bank is willing to waive account management fees as well as early withdrawal penalties on CDs. Credit card customers can inquire about credit line increases or potential forbearance on their monthly payments.

Image Name Discover®

Discover® also offers a resource page on their website with contact information for credit credit card, savings account, and Discover loan customers. While Discover® isn’t sharing the exact assistance they’ll offer customers experiencing hardship, they state that they “have support in place for qualified Discover® customers who experience hardship as a result of the outbreak.”

Image Name Wells Fargo®

Finally, Wells Fargo® claims customers experiencing financial distress can contact them to talk over their options. In a statement, the bank states they are offering fee waivers, deferrals on some payments, and other expanded assistance for loan and credit card customers.

Why You Should Contact Your Bank If You’re Struggling

While the major banks we included above are all offering some assistance for their customers, plenty of smaller banks are also extending flexible payment options and even forbearance during these troubled times. That’s why, if you’re getting close to missing a credit card payment or a payment on any other loan, you should reach out to your lender to let them know of the hardship first and foremost. Considering all that’s going on in the world, they likely have a plan in place with specific options that might help you skip a few payments, secure a lower interest rate, or get out of any late fees you’ve accrued over the last month. If you need access to more credit in order to stay afloat, it’s also possible your card issuer will extend your credit limit.

Whatever you do, you should not skip credit card payments without calling your card issuer. Keep in mind that your payment history is the most important factor that makes up your FICO score at 35%, right ahead of the amounts you owe in relation to your credit limits, which makes up 30% of your score. {Related: 5 Ways Credit Cards Can Impact Your FICO scores}

If you pay your credit card bill late or simply stop paying without calling your card issuer to ask about your options, you’ll take a hit to your credit score that may take a while to overcome. Worse, you’ll get hit with credit card late fees and potentially even a much higher penalty APR.

If you’re struggling to pay your credit card bills, you don’t have to suffer alone. Call your card issuer to see about options they offer that might buy you some time as you look for ways to get back to work and back on track.

Banks around the country are stepping up to help their customers out, but you have to call and let them know you need their help.

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