As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to threaten public health, credit card issuers are beginning to roll out assistance programs for cardholders who may be financially affected by the outbreak.
Credit card issuers and networks are seeing impact from the virus, too. Already, Visa and Mastercard have made cuts to their revenue outlooks in response to decreased spending, especially on travel.
As more cardholders’ wallets across the country are affected, whether by a decline in business, reduced work schedules or other limitations to income, banks are responding by implementing assistance programs.
Here’s a rundown of what’s being offered so far and other options you may have if you face payment difficulties:
In response to the virus outbreak so far, several issuing banks have released statements regarding their ongoing monitoring and response for customers. For credit cardholders specifically, here’s what each issuer stated:
Apple notified its Apple Card customers via email that any cardholder seeking assistance may enroll in a Customer Assistance Program, allowing them to skip March payments without accruing additional interest charges on their balances.
Cardholders are encouraged to use digital tools online and via the Capital One mobile app for account management. Customers impacted financially by the virus should contact Capital One to discuss and work out an individual solution.
Account holders who have been affected by coronavirus should call the number on the back of their credit card or on their monthly statement. As a precaution against potential scams, the issuer also advises that, if someone from Chase reaches out to you, they will not ask for confidential information such as your name, password, PIN or other account information.
Eligible Citi credit cardholders may make use of “always on” assistance programs, which include credit line increases and collection forbearance options.
Discover “will be extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of the coronavirus,” according to a statement. “Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.”
U.S. Bank advises customers who have been impacted by coronavirus to reach out by calling 888-287-7817 to discuss individual solutions.
Wells Fargo customers experiencing hardship related to coronavirus and in need of assistance are encouraged to call 1-800-219-9739 to speak with a trained specialist about available options.
Step to take if you are having trouble paying your bills
If you’re not able to pay your bills on time, contact your lenders to let them your situation. It can have a lasting impact on your credit if you get behind on your payments. Financial institutions have been encouraged by the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) and the other financial regulators to work with their customers.
“Most credit card issuers have off-menu options for those struggling financially,” says Bruce McClary, vice president of communications and spokesperson at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. “All that’s required is to be honest about your circumstances when speaking with the account representative and asking direct questions about available short term hardship programs.”
When contacting your lenders, be prepared to explain:
- Your situation
- How much you can afford to pay
- When you’re likely to restart regualr payments
- When dealing with mortgages, be prepared to discuss things such as your income and expenses
When it comes to student loans, you may qualify for a reduced payment program. However, keep in mind that even though you might not need to make payments now, interest will accrue. Contact your student loans servicer to find out more.
Check your credit reports
Check your credit reports if you’re working with lenders on a payment assistance program to make sure everything is accurate and that any delinquencies have not been improperly reported. Remember, your credit report ad scores is a major part of your financial opportunities in the future.