Tips For Seeking Credit Card Relief During The Coronavirus
Credit card relief is on the minds of millions Americans right now. The coronavirus has shut down most of the country but household bills for Americans have continued on. With over 22 million Americans that have filed for unemployment, paying bills is a scary and uncertain time for so many. If you currently have credit card debt, you may be wondering how to proceed with paying your monthly statement during this time.
Below are tips on how to go about getting short-term credit card relief from creditors.
What relief is available for credit card holders?
Pretty much all credit card relief will be offered on a case by case basis. The relief will typically be for a period of one to three months.
Some of the relief options will look like:
- Waived late fees
- Waived interest fees
- A reduction in monthly payments
- A temporary reduction in interest rates
- Permission to skip payments
- Switching the due date for payments
- Increasing credit limits
Most people will achieve some sort of relief since credit card companies are currently seeing less revenue due to lack of consumer spending.
How You Can Get Credit Card Relief
Credit card issuers will not be reaching out to consumers to offer credit card relief. You are going to need to contact the creditor directly. The one thing you don’t want to do is start making late payments or not paying your card at all without talking to your credit card company. That will just lead to late fees and a potential report to the credit bureaus. The last thing you need right now is a dent in your credit score that can wind up costing you even more money down the road.
Before you make a phone call, we suggest having some documentation on hand from your employer if you were furloughed or you lost your job. Not all companies are asking for this but it’s best to be prepared. When you are ready to make the phone call, make sure you have determined the type of relief you need most for your situation. Keep in mind that so many people are calling as well so wait times are going to be very long. Pretty much all the credit card companies offer service via online or through an app as well. For something like this, though, you most likely need to speak with someone on the phone.
Lastly, beware of scams. As we mentioned above, credit card companies will not be reaching out to consumers directly to offer credit card relief. If you get a phone call or an email asking for personal information in exchange for help, do not reply. We will touch more on this below.
Questions to ask creditors
When you call one of your creditors, you want to be honest about your financial situation while also asking the right questions so that you leave the phone call armed with the information you need. Here are some questions you should be asking.
- Will I still be paying interest while not making payments?
- Do you plan on reporting this to the credit bureaus? (If they are going to report you as late until you are paid up, this could damage your credit)
- Am I going to be assessed any late fees?
What you will receive from creditors will come down to how much of a balance you are carrying on the card and what your current interest rate is. At the end of the day, the last thing they want you to do is wind up filing for bankruptcy or do a debt settlement.
Once you come to an agreement, make sure to check your next statement to see if it reflects whatever they said they will offer you.
If I can make my payments? Should I seek credit card relief?
If you have not lost your job and can afford to make your payments, do so. Every lender is different on how they report debt relief to credit bureaus. Enrolling in a debt relief program could have a negative affect on your credit.
Beware of scams
When the country is vulnerable, the scammers start rearing their heads to take advantage of the situation with phishing emails and malware. Here are a few to look out for:
- Emails with information on the coronavirus where the consumer is urged to click on links for more info. Those links are then redirected to a website that will steal all personal information.
- Businesses are being sent fake emails with bogus purchase orders for protective equipment like face masks. Scammers are hoping the businesses will make payments into fraudulent accounts.
- Another scam is sending out emails to employees about remote work. They are being asked to provide personal information that the scammers can then use for nefarious purposes.
- Other emails are going out that contain malware.
If you receive any coronavirus emails from someone you do not know NEVER click on any links, open attachments or download files. Always rely on reputable websites such as the CDC.gov and the World Health Organization.