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DISCLAIMER: As the COVID-19 public health situation evolves, new regulations are being continually issued. This page/story/information may not include the most recent information.

Credit card issuers offer customer assistance amid coronavirus financial hardship

Credit card issuers, including Chase and Citi, are offering support through flexible bill payments and waived late fees and interest in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Published Tue, Mar 24 2020  CNBC

Alexandria White

The coronavirus pandemic is altering the way Americans live and work and unfortunately causing financial hardship for thousands of consumers. Whether you’ve been laid off or have seen a reduction in working hours, you may find it difficult to make credit card bill payments.

Thankfully, most major card issuers have released statements outlining how they plan to assist customers during this challenging time. Cardholders may be able to skip payments, avoid late fees and receive lower interest rates. Keep in mind, the assistance you receive depends on your individual situation. Not everyone will qualify for the same coverage.

Card issuers encourage customers to use online account management and mobile apps for 24/7 account access and call or chat to speak to a representative about available options.

Below, CNBC Select rounds up what assistance card issuers are currently offering credit card holders.

Credit card issuer customer assistance

Many of the top credit card issuers have released statements and created webpages dedicated to customers’ coronavirus concerns. See below for a summary of what card issuers are offering as relief.

American Express

To ease the financial hardship and difficulties many Americans are already facing, American Express is waiving interest and late payment fees for eligible personal and business cardholders. Amex also suggests members consider its Financial Hardship program, which offers both short-term and long-term assistance, such as monthly payment or interest rates temporarily lowered or relief from late payment fees for qualifying cardholders. Learn more about Amex’s coronavirus assistance.

Goldman Sachs, Apple

The Goldman Sachs-backed Apple Card was one of the first to offer relief to cardholders. Apple sent out an email on March 15 that stated: “We understand that the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation poses unique challenges for everyone and some customers may have difficulty making their monthly payments. Apple Card is committed to helping you lead a healthier financial life.”

Upon enrollment in Apple’s Customer Assistance Program, cardholders are able to skip their March credit card payment without incurring interest charges. Learn more about Apple’s coronavirus assistance.

Bank of America

Bank of America has one of the most extensive webpages dedicated to coronavirus assistance, including statements from top executives. “If you have been negatively impacted by coronavirus and need additional assistance related to your account please visit our website or you can give us a call,” Holly O’Neill, head of consumer, small business and wealth management client care at Bank of America, said in a video statement on the client assistance webpage.

Available assistance includes the ability for credit card holders to submit an online request form for a payment deferral. Learn more about Bank of America’s coronavirus assistance.

From separate CNBC story

How to contact Bank of America customer service

If you are just looking to defer your credit card payments, you can complete a form online via the client assistance page by clicking ‘payment deferrals’ (in the text near the top of the page) to submit your request. You will have to log in to your account.

To speak to a customer service representative by phone, you can either call the number on the back of your credit card or one of the below. Make sure you have your credit card ready and any responses to security questions on your account that you may be asked to provide. Once connected, you will be able to explain your financial situation and any recent hardship you have experienced, such as a recent layoff or fewer working hours.

  • Credit card customer service (including lost or stolen card): 800-732-9194
  • International credit card customer service: 1-757-677-4701 (international cell phone roaming charges may apply)
  • Credit card activation: 800-276-9939 (TTY/TDD: 800-222-7365)
  • Credit card billing inquiries: 866-266-0212

Clients can find more contact information specific to other business/product areas, such as international travel and mobile banking, as well as hours of operation via the bank’s ‘contact us’ page.

Whether you have the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card or the Bank of America® Platinum Plus® Mastercard® Business card, you may have an urgent need to access and manage your money immediately. The Bank of America client assistance webpage encourages banking online at home or through the bank’s mobile app. Here you can check your accounts, pay your bills and deposit checks.

Bank of America customers are likely familiar with its app-based virtual financial assistant named “Erica,” which can also help direct consumers and respond to questions about coronavirus.

Capital One

Like Amex, Capital One is also including waived interest and fees in its assistance program for both personal and business cardholders. According to a Capital One spokesperson, “The specific provisions offered really depend on the individual customer’s needs, but can include fee suppression, minimum payment assistance and deferred loan payments.” Learn more about Capital One’s coronavirus assistance.

Chase

Chase cardholders may receive assistance with both bill payments and travel bookings. “When customers call us with financial challenges related to coronavirus, our customer service specialists have been helping them with things like waiving fees, extending payment due dates for cards, auto loans and mortgages, or increasing credit lines for consumer and small business customers,” a Chase spokesperson tells CNBC Select.

Chase also created a coronavirus trip management page dedicated to changing or canceling travel booking, which states they will work with customers “to help find solutions for changing or cancelling a trip whether you paid with your credit card, debit card, or with rewards.” Learn more about Chase’s coronavirus assistance.

Citi

Citi’s coronavirus webpage states that eligible Citi credit card customers can receive credit line increases and enroll in collection forbearance programs. If you qualify for assistance, you may be able to ask for a larger line of credit or the ability to temporarily pause minimum payments. Learn more about Citi’s coronavirus assistance.

Discover

A Discover spokesperson tells CNBC Select that, “Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.” Cardholders can call customer service or chat with a representative about available options. Learn more about Discover’s coronavirus assistance.

Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and other issuers

Other card issuers, such as Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, encourage customers to call and discuss possible solutions. If your card issuer doesn’t provide the assistance you need, consider opening a new credit card with benefits that are better suited to your needs.

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Michigan license number:   DM-0016282 Available to the public and licensed in Michigan.

Section 13(1)  When a licensee establishes a debt management plan for a debtor, the licensee may charge and receive an initial fee of $50.00

Section 13(2)  A licensee shall attempt to obtain consent to participate in a debt management plan from at least 51%, in number or dollar amount, of the debtor’s creditors within 90 days after establishing the debt management plan. If the required consent is not actually received by the licensee, the licensee shall provide notice to the debtor of the lack of required consent and the debtor may, at its option, close the account. If the debtor decides to close the account, any unexpended funds shall be returned to the debtor or disbursed as directed by the debtor.

Sec. 14. (1) A contract between a licensee and debtor shall include all of the following:

(a) Each creditor to which payments will be made and the amount owed each creditor. A licensee may rely on records of the debtor and other information available to it to determine the amount owed to a creditor.

(b) The total amount of the licensee’s charges.

(c) The beginning and termination dates of the contract.

(d) The principal amount and approximate interest charges of the debtor’s obligations to be paid under the debt management plan.

(e) The name and address of the licensee and of the debtor.

(f) Any other provisions or disclosures that the director determines are necessary for the protection of the debtor and the proper conduct of business by a licensee.

Sec. 18. (1) In addition to the fee described in section 13(1), a licensee may charge a reasonable fee for providing debt management services under a debt management plan. The fee under this subsection shall not exceed 15% of the amount of the debt to be liquidated during the express term of the plan.

(2) A licensee may offer a debtor the option to purchase credit reports or educational materials and products, and charge a fee to the debtor if the debtor elects to purchase any of those items from the licensee.  Fees charged under this subsection are not subject to the 15% limitation on fees described in subsection (1).

(3) Except for a cancellation described in subsection (4), in the event of cancellation of or default in the performance of the contract by the debtor before its successful completion, a licensee may collect $25.00 in addition to any fees and charges of the licensee previously received by the licensee. This $25.00 fee is not subject to the 15% limitation on fees and charges under subsection (1).

(4) A contract is in effect when it is signed by the licensee and the debtor and the debtor has made a payment of any amount to the licensee. The debtor has the right to cancel the contract until 12 midnight of the third business day after the first day the contract is in effect by delivering written notice of cancellation to the licensee. A cancellation described in this section is not subject to, and a licensee shall not collect, the fee described in subsection (3).

(5) If a debtor fails to make a payment of any amount to a licensee within 60 days after the date a payment is due under a contract, the licensee may, in its discretion, cancel the debt management contract if it determines that the plan is no longer suitable for the debtor, the debtor fails to affirmatively communicate to the licensee the debtor’s desire to continue the plan, or the creditors of the debtor refuse to continue accepting payments under the plan.

(6) A licensee shall not contract for, receive, or charge a debtor an amount greater than authorized by this act. A person that violates this subsection, except as the result of an inadvertent clerical or computer error, shall return to the debtor the amount of the payments received from or on behalf of the debtor and not distributed to creditors, and, as a penalty, an amount equal to the amount overcharged.

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