how are banks helpingIf you’ve found yourself on shaky financial ground due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be wondering, what, if anything, are credit card issuers doing to help? 

Some issuers, like Chase, have specifically stated helpful and clear information, such as “you can delay up to three payments on your personal or business credit card if you’ve been affected by COVID-19,” while others have been a bit more vague using language like “you may be eligible for,” or “if you qualify.” One thing they all seem to be doing consistently, though, is providing information on how to contact them if you find yourself needing assistance.  

Here’s what we know right now from several of the country’s largest credit card issuers (note that these guidelines seem to be changing all the time – daily in some cases. This information was accurate as of April 28, 2020.):

American Express

American Express has a COVID-19 support page which provides details about account security, refunds and disputing charges, resources for business owners, tips for managing your account, and information about how to modify travel plans.

With a bit of digging there’s also a link to a Financial Relief Program page, which might be what’s most relevant here.

Through this program, American Express states:

“Together we may be able to:

  • Lower your monthly payment
  • Provide relief from late payment fees
  • Temporarily lower your interest rate
  • Prevent your account(s) from going past due or further past due if you abide by the terms and conditions of the program”

For more information customers are encouraged to chat with a representative online or to call 1-866-703-4169. 

Bank of America

Bank of America also has a pretty extensive Coronavirus Relief Efforts page, which importantly, prominently displays information about their Client Assistance Program.

This page says:

“In response to the extraordinary challenges of the coronavirus, Bank of America is offering additional support to our consumer and small business clients through our Client Assistance Program (CAP).

“Need assistance with your payments? We can help now. Consumer and small business deposit clients can request refunds for overdraft fees, non-sufficient funds fees, and monthly maintenance fees. Contact us.

“Through our Client Assistance Program, consumers and small business clients who need assistance making credit card and loan payments can submit an online request below.”

Following this information is a large “request payment deferral” button which customers can click to login and request a deferral online.

Capital One

The Capital One COVID-19 support page is sparse, but in the customer assistance article, it does state that if your income has been impacted by the COVID-19 virus and “you find yourself experiencing a financial hardship,” you should contact Capital One. This article also warns, though, that call times may be longer than usual and encourages users to take advantage of online self-service banking tools.

Chase

The first thing that you might notice on Chase’s COVID-19 resource page is a warning about long wait times for phone calls. Because of this, Chase is strongly encouraging customers to use online resources instead.

Below this warning, you will find information about what to do if you need help paying a credit card bill, as well as the option to enroll for assistance online.

Chase states:

“You can delay up to three payments on your personal or business credit card if you’ve been affected by COVID-19. We recommend that you enroll online because we’re experiencing extremely high call volumes and very long hold times… If you want to delay payments on a credit card for yourself or your business, please enroll online for the fastest service.”

Also important to note, they also say:

“If you’re active duty military or have been activated to respond to a disaster, you may be eligible for additional benefits. Call our military services hotline at 1-877-469-0110.”

Citi

The Citi COVID-19 assistance page provides a number of resources, from personal loan, to small business, to mortgage help.

As far as credit cards go, Citi says:

“If you’ve been impacted by COVID-19, you may be eligible, upon request, for the following assistance measures: Waiver of the minimum payment due requirement and late fees for 2 statement cycles.”

Like most other issuers, Citi also provides the option to request COVID-19 assistance digitally.

Discover

Instead of a traditional resource page, Discover provides a list of frequently asked questions along with their answers.

There’s not much in the way of credit card help. The most Discover offers here is a phone number (1-800-497-2816) in response to the question “Can you help me if my health or income is impacted by COVID-19?”

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank also doesn’t offer much information as far as credit card help goes. Their resource page covers mortgage assistance, IRAs and retirement accounts, personal loans, e-commerce support and more, but we aren’t seeing anything specifically for U.S. Bank credit card users.

This doesn’t necessarily mean no help is available. U.S. Bank credit card users should call cardmember services to learn more.  

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo’s resource page doesn’t offer much, but it does say “on a case-by-case basis, we're offering fee waivers, payment deferrals, and other expanded assistance for credit card, auto, mortgage, small business, and personal lending customers who contact us,” which is a hopeful sign that help is possible. Again, it’s on a case-by-case basis, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least reach out if you find yourself needing support.

This is, of course, just a handful of the banks and credit card issuers in the country. If you have questions about a bank not listed here, we’d encourage you to call your financial institution. This is a global, unprecedented situation and banks of all sizes are addressing the financial impact.

If you have additional questions related to the credit card implications of this pandemic, check out the CardRatings COVID-19 resource page or email your specific questions to editor@cardratings.com.

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