Coronavirus credit card payment and debt relief: How issuers are responding to COVID-19

Woman holding stylized umbrella to represent credit card relief options Image: Woman holding stylized umbrella to represent credit card relief options

In a Nutshell

If your finances have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, your credit card issuer may be offering some kind of debt relief, such as waived fees or deferred payments. We’ve collected information from many major issuers so you can find out what they’re offering and how to get help.

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As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, credit card issuers are stepping in to give customers resources during this unprecedented crisis.

In this time of need, many credit card issuers are moving quickly to assist their customers by providing them with information and resources that may alleviate some of their financial burden.

If you need that relief, take a look at our compiled list of credit card issuers’ assistance efforts and eligibility requirements. Find your issuer from the list below and read our sample questions at the end of the article to see what you might be able to request.



American Express

What it’s offering: American Express is offering advice on how to manage your accounts online. It also directs cardholders with reservations through Amex Travel to a separate COVID-19 information hub for airline-specific details. The issuer may be able to lower your monthly payment and provide relief from late payment fees, among other relief measures. Visit its financial relief page for more information.

Chase

What it’s offering: If you have been affected by COVID-19, you may delay your payment on your personal or business credit card if you enroll online for assistance. Chase also has a dedicated site to answer travel-related questions for cardholders. For more information, visit the lender’s COVID-19 resource page.

Goldman Sachs (Apple Card)

What it’s offering: Apple Card customers may have received an email about an option to enroll in Apple Card’s customer assistance program, which allows enrolled cardholders to skip their monthly payment without accruing extra interest or paying penalties. To skip your Apple Card payment this month, visit the support page to enroll in the lender’s customer assistance program.

HSBC

What it’s offering: If you’ve been affected by the coronavirus, you can defer your payments through HSBC’s relief program. The lender is also offering to reduce your payments, waive interest charges and waive late fees for 90 days from the time you enroll in the program.

What it’s offering:  Navy Federal Credit Union has options for customers impacted by COVID-19, including credit limit increases, overdraft protection and fee-free transfers. Cardholders can use the mobile app to request a credit-limit increase. For deferments on credit cards, call 800-336-3767.

PNC Bank

What it’s offering: PNC says it will consider assisting customers affected by the coronavirus with relief options that include postponing payments for a period of time. Those who are experiencing financial hardship can call 1-800-558-8472 for more information.

Other issuers

This list doesn’t cover every credit card issuer, and yours might not be included. If you’re worried about making credit card payments and aren’t sure what your issuer is doing to help, we recommend checking your card issuer’s website or calling its customer service number to discuss the assistance it may be able to offer you, including no-interest payment deferrals, credit limit increases and hardship plans.


Questions you can ask your issuer

While credit card issuers are offering to help cardholders during this time, it’s not always clear what they may be willing to offer people who’ve been affected by COVID-19. To help, we’ve put together a list of questions you can ask your issuer when you explore your options.

It’s possible that some of these questions may not be relevant to your situation — and there’s no guarantee you’ll get what you want. But we hope they’ll help you start the conversation with your issuer.

1. Can I skip or defer a payment?

If you’d benefit from skipping your payment for a month or longer, it doesn’t hurt to ask your credit card issuer if it’s possible to do so. Some credit card issuers, including Bank of America, have indicated they’ll consider requests to defer payments.

But we recommend you clarify not only if you can pay later, but whether your issuer will also waive the interest charges that you could rack up during this time.

But if your card issuer doesn’t approve this request, you could ask if it’d be willing to waive the interest charges as long as you make the minimum payment.

2. Will you waive my late fee?

Whether you plan to skip a payment or just need a few more days to get the money together, missing a due date can trigger a late fee in addition to interest charges. If you can’t avoid missing a payment or paying late, it’s worth asking for a one-time waiver. For example, Bank of America and Navy Federal Credit Union say they’ll consider waiving late fees on a case-by-case basis.

There are a couple other questions worth asking about a late payment, too.

  • Will I be charged a penalty APR? Some credit card issuers may raise your interest rate when you miss a payment. The higher interest rate is known as a penalty APR. But if you miss a payment because of the financial impact of COVID-19, you could ask your credit card issuer if it would be willing not to charge a penalty APR due to the situation.
  • Will you report my late payment to the credit bureaus? Even if your credit card issuer agrees to waive the late fee and interest charges, it could still report a late payment to the credit bureaus, depending on how late your payment is. When you talk to your card issuer, you should make sure to ask if they intend to do so.

3. Will you lower my interest rate?

If your credit card company won’t allow you to skip a payment or waive your interest charges, you could ask it to at least lower your interest rate. You might qualify for a better rate if your credit has improved since you applied for the card, or the issuer might be open to changing your rate.

4. Will you increase my credit limit?

While we typically recommend you try to pay off your credit card statement balance in full every month, we realize that you might need to lean more heavily on your credit card right now.

If you’re in need of more purchasing power to deal with this crisis, it might be a good time to ask for a credit line increase. Citi and Navy Federal Credit Union have explicitly told cardholders they can request credit limit increases, and other issuers may also be willing to consider this type of request.

5. Will you refund the points or miles I used to book a canceled trip?

If you booked a trip through your card program’s travel portal and need to cancel it, it’s worth trying to get a refund on your rewards in addition to your money. Credit card issuers like Chase, American Express and Capital One say they will follow airlines’ COVID-19 policies on cancellations, which generally make it easier to get your money back. But it’s also worth confirming that you’ll get your points and miles back before you go down that road.

Instead of calling the airline directly, you may be asked to go through your credit card’s reservations team to cancel. Just make sure you’re clear on the process before going through with it.