If you can’t pay your credit card because you lost your job owing to the coronavirus pandemic, your card company might help.
Depending on the card, the issuer might let you skip a month, waive fees or extend your credit line.
Banks, the big credit card issuers, are “working to identify and assist affected clients and provide the right support to address their unique personal needs,” said a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association.
Indeed, Apple Card is permitting cardholders to skip recent payments without incurring interest.
“It allowed cardholders to pass on both March and April. This is the most generous relief program in the industry,” according to Ted Rossman, a card industry analyst with CreditCards.com.
“The card industry is trying to be empathetic,” said Bill Hardekopf, the founder of LowCards.com. “The industry is trying to help, but also avoid another 2008 crisis,” he added. That’s when millions of cardholders defaulted.
Bank of America “is encouraging customers affected by the coronavirus who need financial help to call the bank’s dedicated client-care number at the phone number listed on their credit or debit card or statement,” the company said.
Discover Card “is extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of the coronavirus,” the company said. “Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.”
Capital One, PNC, Wells Fargo and Chase have said they will work with cardholders “on a case-by-case basis.”
Some banks are also allowing clients to temporarily increase credit limits.
“Speak up and tell the card company if you are having a problem,” Hardekopf advises. “And be sure to get any relief offers in writing. A promise of someone on an 800 line isn’t the same as having it in writing.”
Putting it in writing, Hardekopf added, is important because payment problems “could irreparably damage” a cardholder’s credit ratings.