What to do when you can't make your Credit Card Payments
Everyone seems to be hurt by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and if you can’t pay your credit cards, you have lots of good company. Here’s what you need to know, and what to do.
First, know that if you can’t pay your credit cards due to Covid-19 income loss, there is NO government help. The CARES Act provides no relief for us when we can’t pay credit cards.
But, the credit card issuers are, on a case by case basis, stating that they offer some assistance.
Credit card assistance due to COVID-19 can be in the form of waiving late fees (assume you are paying but paying late, or not making at least the minimum monthly payment), or even allowing you to skip a payment.
When you don’t pay the credit cards, due to COVID-19 or for any reason, for that matter, the payments are not forgiven. Eventually you will be required to pay them.
But, after the Coronavirus economic interruption has passed, you may be able to get back on track in a reasonable amount of time. And, working with the creditor might save you some late fees, or even help keep your credit from being damaged.
Here’s a list of what some of the credit card issuers are offering:
- American Express – possible lowered payments and late fee waiver. https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/company/notice/covid-19/?intlink=us-aexpcomm-covid19
- Bank of America – deferred payments, refunds on late fees
- Barclays – unclear what they are offering, they say you can contact them for help but no specifics.
- Capital One – Same as Barclays. Offer of help, but not specific, want you to use their mobile app.
- Citi – offers details here: https://online.citi.com/US/JRS/pands/detail.do?ID=covid19
- Comenity – offers payment plans outlined here: https://comenity.com/heretohelp
- Discover – no specifics here – https://www.discover.com/coronavirus/
- Apple Card (Goldman Sachs) – has a program to skip March payment. Wants you to call 1-877-255-5923.
- HSBC – no details yet, but offer a web page https://www.us.hsbc.com/coronavirus-update/
- Synchrony – directs you to contact them for individual discussion https://www.us.hsbc.com/coronavirus-update/
- U S Bank best to call them at 1-888-287-7817 for their options.
- Wells Fargo Nothing specific yet. Directs you to their customer service team https://www.wellsfargo.com/help/
What to do
- ask about eligibility – probably need to be affected by COVID-19 directly or indirectly
- Can you defer one or more payments, don’t forget to ask about interest charges – are they deferred too?
- Waiver of late fees. If a payment is deferred, is the late fee also deferred?
- Will deferral trigger a penalty APR? Many cards have a provision to raise your interest rate if you are late making even one payment. Will this deferral trigger the penalty?
- If none of the above, you may as well ask if they will lower your interest rate.
- Ask for an increase in your credit limit. Although it may sound contradictory, you may be surprised. And, having a greater credit limit is extra security, and may increase your credit score.