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Relief is on its Way: How Top American Banks Cope with the Post-pandemic Crisis

Our brief guide covers 10 world-known banks and their relief policies to date. Of course, the list is not full; our purpose is to highlight the top players in the US. But even those who are covered in it may change their policies over time.

If you don’t find your credit card issuer here, then contact them directly. Post-pandemic relief is not something you should neglect. Any easing measure like reduced or suspended payments, late fee waivers, or reduced APR can give you more control over your credit card debt in turbulent financial times.   

 

How Banking Giants Deal with Covid-19 Consequences: 10 Relief Program Examples


American Express

Since the beginning of the recession, American Express has been conducting a financial hardship program online. There, it provides cardholders with consultation on difficult circumstances.

Unlike American Express, most credit card issuers don’t have a dedicated website for relief programs. Instead, you will have to go through customer service first, which only adds to your waiting time.

Per AmEx’s relief program, customers can get reduced monthly payments and APR for a limited time. Also, late payment and card membership fees can be suspended while you take part in the program.

The program provides two payment plans to choose from: a short-term 12-month relief and a longer-term payment plan for 36 or 60 months. However, the eligibility criteria is stricter for long-term plans. To enroll, customers must confirm their delinquency status, card balance, and even prior enrollment in the program.

Those who choose a short-term payment plan should remember that all their fees waived, or cut, during the program will resume once it ends.

Bank of America

To help clients through challenging times, the bank provides 60-day payment deferrals for businesses and individuals. The relief program also suggests refunds for late fees usually charged if the customer cannot pay on the due date. However, each case is personal, meaning that one should discuss the relief options available with a bank representative.  

Besides that, at the beginning of the pandemic, Bank of America extended the period during which eligible cardholders could earn sign-up bonuses. Specifically, that period was extended to 90 days for consumers and businesses who opened accounts between January 1 and March 31, 2020.

Barclays

From now on, Barclays cardholders can skip the minimum payment due during the next two payment due dates. However, the interest will continue to accrue during that period. As in the case with the previous banks, cardholders can also ask for relief online. Besides credit cards, Barclays’ relief programs include business credit cards, personal loans, and even available for those customers who have used up their benefits already — in which case, they simply need to reapply for more help.

Capital One

Though Capital One is not too specific about its relief programs on its website (you won’t find much info even on your account page), it encourages customers to contact customer service to find out about viable options. In the same way as Barclays, Capital One offers relief depending on the case, finding the best solution possible for each customer’s financial situation. The bank works with both business and personal cardholders.

Chase

Chase cardholders (including businesses and individuals) who have been hit by COVID-19 can now delay their card payments. Auto loan and mortgage owners can do the same simply by logging into their Chase accounts and deferring the required payment from there. However, if that option is unavailable, only customer service can resolve that issue.

Citi

As a part of Citi’s relief program, holders of City credit/debit cards can be eligible for temporal forbearance of collections. The bank pauses all collection actions against the customer, provided that they fall behind their payments. Also, late fees may be waived and minimum fees may be deferred for two months (depending on the bank’s resolution).

Even during the waiver period, the bank continues reporting account information to credit bureaus. That is, if the account was delinquent before that period began, the bank will continue reporting it as delinquent without regarding payments the account holder will make during that period.

Discover

Discover isn’t so open about its relief programs; you won’t find the related info either on Discover’s website or on your account page. However, relief options are available along with the waving of some late fees, but eligibility depends on each case. Therefore, to find out if you can qualify for relief, you need to contact Discover’s support.

HSBC

HSBC also has its own relief program for the victims of COVID-19. Besides the common solutions, such as reduced payments and late fee waivers, the bank also makes no changes to reporting the account status. Therefore, if the customer is enrolled in, say, a 90-day relief program, their monthly payment will be 50% less. However, the bank won’t charge any additional interest or fees during the program.

U.S. Bank         

As in the case with many other banks, U.S. Bank doesn’t provide any related information about its relief program on its website but encourages customers to contact them directly to find out (the bank has a dedicated COVID-19 emergency line for such issues). Besides telling you about eligibility criteria, the bank will advise if waiving late fees or deferring payments is a good option in your financial circumstances. 

Wells Fargo

Finally, Wells Fargo also provides relief help on a case-by-case basis. Typically, its relief options suggest deferring payments, yet you still need to contact them personally to find out if you are eligible. If you were enrolled in the program before and received payment deferral, you may count on other perks, such as credit card annual fee delay or late fee waivers.

 

Bottom Line

Most credit card issuers have relief programs helping to overcome the post-pandemic recession. Also, we see that most of them encourage customers to contact them directly to learn about relief programs. So, if you plan to contact your bank, think about the type of relief that applies to you.

For example, if you can pay your balance at least partially, but it’s less than the regular monthly sum, it would be wise to ask for a reduction. But if you can’t pay at all, then temporary deferment is a more appropriate option.

If your past credit history is really something that you can be proud of, don’t forget to point out that fact when asking for an interest rate reduction, payment deferment, or fee waivers. If in the past you have always paid on time, the bank will be more willing to help you.

Besides deferrals and fee waivers, there are more plausible account change options for your benefit. For example, you may ask to switch a high-interest credit card (if you have one) to one with no annual fees. Or, if the sum is still affordable but you need more time to reimburse it, you may ask for a due date postponement.

Whenever you ask for changes to your credit card account and they are approved, you should always have them documented. Therefore, you will have written proof of your agreement with the bank. In this case, you will have no problem applying for a new credit relief program after the current one runs out.

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