If you are a credit card holder whose finances have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be experiencing a lot of pressure. Thankfully, almost all credit card issuers have put policies in place designed to help personal and small business cardholders. Federal law also protects you, especially when it comes to consumer credit reporting and credit scoring damage.
If you have entered into an arrangement with your issuer that allows you to put payments on hold, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act requires credit card companies to report the account as current on your credit report (as long as you were in good standing before you deferred the payments).
Do not hesitate to reach out to your credit issuer and ask how they can help you make it through this tough time. As you do, give yourself plenty of time to deal with the situation, especially if you’ll be calling and speaking with a customer service representative.
Hold times will almost certainly be long. Take it slow and get it done, and ask plenty of questions. Be specific about what you’re looking for.
Here are the major credit card issuers and what they have stated they’re doing for their cardholders who have been financially affected by the pandemic. Some are publishing more thorough details than others, but all are assisting those in need.
COVID Support Page: https://www.americanexpress.com/icc/company/notice/covid-19/
- Customer representatives are answering calls from home to protect their safety.
- The company will work with you to identify a solution for your situation.
- You may be eligible for a payment “holiday,” during which payments are deferred for a specific number of months.
- Late fees will be waived while your payments are deferred.
- Accommodations are only available for personal and business cards, not corporate cards.
- American Express has also partnered with Deliveroo to help deliver 500,000 free meals to NHS (National Health Service) staff at work as well as thousands of free meals to their homes.
Bank of America
- Aside from calling, you can make a request for assistance by completing an online form (available on the website when you log on to your account) or via the app.
- You may defer payments for a fixed number of months.
- Late fees for those months will be waived.
- You may not qualify if your account is over 150 days delinquent.
- Interest will continue to accrue while the payments are on hold.
- Your credit limit will not decline.
- You may continue to use the card.
- If you have a time-sensitive promotional rate card, the deferred payment plan will not negatively impact the offer.
- Most requests are processed within two days, and you will receive an email confirmation with the resolution.
COVID Support Page: https://www.capitalone.com/updates/coronavirus/customer-assistance/
Capital One encourages cardholders to contact them over the phone to work out an individualized plan. Although the company does not publish specific concessions or information regarding COVID-related assistance, it will work with you to keep your account in good standing.
COVID Support Page: https://www.chase.com/digital/resources/coronavirus/credit-card-relief-programs
- You may be able to delay your monthly payment if you notify them of your need and request assistance. You might also receive a refund for any associated late fees.
- The best way to find out which concessions you may be eligible for is to go online and complete its form.
COVID Support Page: https://online.citi.com/US/JRS/pands/detail.do?ID=covid19
- The best way to request concessions is by phone.
- Citi may give you two consecutive monthly minimum payment breaks.
- It will waive late fees while you are in a period of deferment.
- If you opened a card with a signup bonus where you have to spend a certain amount within a fixed number of months, that time frame may be expanded so you don’t lose out.
- You may not qualify for concessions if your account is more than 60 days delinquent.
COVID Support Page: https://www.discover.com/coronavirus/
- You can use any of the communication methods to request assistance: call, use the online chat function when you log in to your account, or use the app.
- You should find out what your options are without having to wait.
- You may be eligible for the company’s skip-a-pay payment plan in which you can defer at least two consecutive payments.
- Late payment fees will be waived during the deferment.
- Interest will continue to accrue.
- The introductory rate on promotional offers will not be affected.
- Your credit limit will not be reduced.
- You can continue to use the card to make purchases.
COVID Support Page: https://www.wellsfargo.com/jump/enterprise/coronavirus-response/
- Either call or log in to your account to apply for assistance online.
- The bank may give you as long as three months without having to make a payment.
- Interest will be waived during the deferment period.
- The annual fee will be waived if it is due during that time period.
- You will usually be notified about what the bank will do for you at the time of contact.
- You may not qualify if:
- you are already using a COVID relief deferment.
- you are in a different hardship plan with the same account.
- you have settled a debt with the account and are currently repaying the balance.
- the account has already been charged off.
- The payment deferments will not affect promotional rate credit card deals.
- You can continue making purchases up to your credit limit as long as the account is in good standing.
Get the Financial Relief You Need
There is no reason to delay contacting your creditor to see if you can get a break during this difficult time. As stated earlier, the CARES Act requires issuers to delay reporting late or missed payments if a cardholder has an agreement in place with the issuer. That means your credit score should not be negatively affected during this period.
Although some credit card issuers are more forthcoming regarding what they will do for their cardholders, if you’ve been a good customer up until this point, odds are good you can establish a deal that will provide you with much-needed financial relief during these trying times.