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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
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.
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.
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 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’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.
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.