Credit Card Issuers Are Still Offering Payment Relief During Pandemic

Skipped payments and waived late fees are still common options

woman looking at credit card statement
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The coronavirus (COVID-19) is disrupting financial livelihoods everywhere. To help struggling borrowers understand their options during this difficult time, The Balance has compiled a summary of the help that major credit card issuers are offering. 

The financial impact of this global pandemic is still fluid, and much like all of us, card-issuing banks continue to develop plans to cope. We are monitoring this topic and updating this article as they provide us with more information.   

What Major Card Issuers Are Offering Struggling Consumers

If you’re finding it difficult to manage credit card payments and debt these days, here are some relief options you may have. Even if you already received assistance during the pandemic, you may be eligible for more help, based on feedback The Balance has received from card issuers. It never hurts to see what your options are, but keep in mind that aid will depend on your particular situation: 

American Express

Amex has a coronavirus support page on its website, but it contains few specifics. The hardship provisions listed on the issuer’s financial relief program webpage include temporarily lowering your monthly payment or interest rate and providing relief from late fees. American Express told the Balance that if you have already received help this year, you can request assistance again if you are still struggling. 

“For those customers who are still experiencing hardship due to COVID-19, we’ve recently enhanced our Financial Relief Program, which is designed to help Card Members unable to make their American Express card payments get their finances back on track,” a spokeswoman told The Balance via email.

How to Ask for Help

  • Call 1-866-703-4169
  • Log into your online account to chat with customer service  

Bank of America 

If you’re having trouble making payments, you may be able to defer payments or have late fees refunded. The bank won’t report negative information to the credit bureaus because of those actions, as long as your account is up to date. If you need help, you’re encouraged to contact the bank directly because Bank of America is offering help on a case-by-case basis. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call the phone number on the back of your card

Barclays

A Barclays spokesperson emailed us this when we reached out: “We offer a range of options for cardmembers facing financial difficulties related to the coronavirus outbreak, including allowing them to skip a monthly payment while offering late fee waivers, cash advance fee waivers, finance charge adjustments, and flexible review for credit line increases. We will continue to monitor the situation and will take additional measures as needed to best support our customers who are struggling financially as a result of the current outbreak.”

If you already received assistance from Barclays this year but need more help, reach out again. The issuer told us they have offered 90 days of payment relief to those who have asked. The bank is offering 24/7 customer service hours for cardholders, too.

How to Ask for Help

  • Request payment relief through your online account
  • Call the number on the back of your card
  • More details are on the bank’s COVID-19 page

Capital One

Capital One has a webpage for customers impacted by the pandemic, and credit card holders who need financial help are advised to call the bank, understanding that wait times may be longer than usual. 

Much like other banks, Capital One told The Balance that relief options may vary. "Our focus continues to be on supporting our customers and we offer a range of assistance measures depending on their individual needs, including deferred or adjusted payments and waived late fees. Assistance is available to customers on a month-to-month basis,” a spokesperson emailed The Balance.

How to Ask for Help

  • Call the bank (1-800-227-4825)
  • Live chat with customer service through your online account

Chase 

If you’re having trouble making on-time monthly credit card payments, you can request to defer a payment, according to a Chase COVID-19 webpage.

How to Ask for Help

  • Request a deferred payment online
  • Call the number on the back of your credit card or on your monthly statement
  • Send a message after logging into your online account 

Citi 

According to Citi’s coronavirus page, credit card customers should log into their online account to request financial assistance. Minimum payments can be deferred and late fees can be waived for two months, Citi told The Balance in an email. This won’t affect credit reports unless the account was delinquent before the waivers. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call the number on the back of your card 
  • Apply to skip monthly payments online

Comenity Bank

Comenity Bank, which issues a lot of retail credit cards, has a web page that says payment programs are available to those struggling to make payments right now. The Balance has reached out to the bank for more information and was told via email that short-term assistance options may include lower minimum payments, lower APRs, and/or 90-day extensions on promotional offers if applicable. Some cardholders may also be able to skip a payment without incurring a late fee. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call the number listed on the back of your card or look up the customer service number here

If you already received financial relief from Comenity this year, the issuer also told us that in some cases, you may be able to receive assistance again. If you need help, reach out to learn more about the options you may have.

Discover

Discover told The Balance that cardholders who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 may receive assistance related to payments, fees, and interest, but options will vary depending on your situation. If you have already requested assistance from Discover this year but still need help, you can submit another request, too, according to the issuer. A Discover FAQ page outlines instructions on contacting Discover.

How to Ask for Help

  • Call 1-800-497-2816 any time
  • Send a message through your account online or through the mobile app 

First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO)

The bank has a dedicated webpage for coronavirus updates, which says customers financially impacted by the pandemic may be able to defer payments. When payments are skipped, you won’t be charged any late fees, but your account balance will still accrue interest. FNBO won’t report negative information to the credit bureaus during payment deferment either.  

How to Ask for Help

  • Log into your online account and select “Skip-Payment Plan” when prompted
  • Call 1-855-350-6482

First PREMIER Bank

The First PREMIER Bank coronavirus webpage doesn’t disclose much about what specifically the bank is doing to help struggling cardholders, so The Balance reached out to the bank for more information. According to a spokesperson, you can skip your monthly payment for two consecutive billing cycles. If you need help beyond that, you can call and ask for the relief option again, too. You won’t owe any late fees while enrolled in this relief option, but interest will continue to accrue. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call 1-800-987-5521

Goldman Sachs Bank (Apple Card)

Apple Card customers can submit an online request to skip their September payment without incurring interest charges. We confirmed with Goldman Sachs Bank that there will be no negative impact to your credit history, either. As an added bonus, the Apple Card doesn’t ever charge late fees. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Send a message via Apple Wallet (using iMessages)

HSBC

HSBC is offering credit card holders what it calls the “90-day Relief Program.” Once you are enrolled, your monthly payment will be cut in half (to a $15 minimum), and you won’t be charged interest or late fees while in the relief program. Note that when you are enrolled in this relief program, you won’t be able to use your credit card. HSBC will continue to report your payment activity to the credit bureaus, too.  The bank has set up a webpage about its services during the pandemic. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Submit an enrollment form through your online account (which is likely the fastest way to get help)
  • Call 1-800-524-9686, Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST

Navy Federal Credit Union

This credit union’s COVID-19 web page outlines a couple of specific ways credit card holders can get a break during this difficult time, including deferred payments, refunds on late fees, and credit limit increases. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call 1-800-336-3767
  • Send a secure message or chat online or through the Navy Federal Credit Union mobile app
  • Apply for a credit card limit increase in the mobile app 

Pentagon Federal Credit Union

This credit union’s COVID-19 information page states you can log into your online account to see if you are eligible to skip a payment. You can call PenFed with additional questions. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Log into your online account and select “Financial Assistance for Members Affected by COVID-19” 
  • Send an email to info@hq.penfed.org 
  • Send an online message through your account

PNC 

If you’re financially struggling right now, PNC says on its COVID-19 page that there are options. Among them, you may be able to reduce or defer payments (but interest will continue to accrue). Submitting a request for payment assistance online is the fastest way to apply for help, and PNC says it is able to review applications for most customers immediately. If you need more information than what is available online, credit card customer service representatives can be reached by phone 24/7 right now. 

How to Ask for Help

If you previously received payment assistance from PNC during the pandemic but need more help, you can apply again.

Regions Bank

Regions is offering credit card payment relief, which also includes waived late fees, according to their COVID-19 information page. How long your relief options will last and other terms will be shared when you make your request. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call 1-866-298-1113

SunTrust and BB&T (Truist)

SunTrust and BB&T, which have merged into an entity called Truist Financial Corp., told The Balance cardholders, “can defer the minimum payments for consumer and business credit cards up to 90 days upon request. After that initial period, an additional 90 days may be available for extended hardship or unemployment situations. This option enables clients to not have to make a payment, remain current and not be charged late fees.” 

How to Ask for Help

  • Apply for payment relief online (this is the fastest way to request help)
  • Call SunTrust at 1-888-893-1773 for consumer card help, or 1-877-864-0197 for business cards
  • Call BB&T at 1-800-289-6385 for consumer cards, or 1-800-528-4920 for business cards
  • Visit the Truist Coronavirus Response page

Synchrony

Synchrony—the bank that issues credit cards for many big-name retail outlets such as GAP, Amazon.com, and Sam's Club—is offering relief which may include waived fees, deferred payments, extended existing card promotions, and increased credit limits. If money is tight right now, visit the bank's coronavirus webpage or call to discuss your options. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call the number on the back of your card 

USAA

USAA told The Balance via email that credit card financial assistance may include a 90-day payment deferral for cardholders. If you have already had payments deferred but need additional help, you can call and extend the relief for an additional 90 days. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Call 1-855-764-4617

U.S. Bank

The U.S. Bank coronavirus page doesn’t disclose specifics about what the company is doing to help struggling cardholders. We reached out to the bank for more information and were told waived payments and fees may be available options, but accommodations will vary based on individual situations. Like many other banks, it’s encouraging customers to use online banking and app resources to manage accounts, and to call customer support.

How to Ask for Help

  • Call the number on the back of your card 

Wells Fargo

Like many other big banks, Wells Fargo has a webpage with information about COVID-19 assistance for card customers, which may include deferred monthly payments without late fees. If you are charged an annual fee while your payments are deferred, you can pay it after the deferment period ends, along with any other fees charged during that time.

The bank is advising struggling customers to contact the bank directly, noting that call volume is higher than normal. 

How to Ask for Help

  • Apply for help online (sign into your online account and click on the payment assistance banner on your account summary page to get started)
  • Call the number on the back of your credit card or 1-844-583-6686

Besides offering borrowers a break on their payments, some credit card issuers have adjusted their rewards schemes and bonus timelines to make up for the fact that travel rewards are such a challenge to use.

What Does Payment Forbearance or Deferment Mean? 

An account in forbearance or deferment usually means the card holder has been allowed to skip payments temporarily. If you can’t afford your monthly payment due to financial hardship, credit card issuers may allow you to miss a monthly payment or two. Most of the banks in this article have said this may be an option for consumers struggling to make payments due to COVID-19.

Typically an account in forbearance won’t accrue interest, but one marked as “deferred” will accrue interest. To learn more, read “Credit Card Payment Forbearance vs. Deferment: What’s the Difference?” Make sure to clarify how your credit card issuer is categorizing the financial assistance and what that means for your debt in the long run. 

However, you can’t just choose not to pay if money is tight. You’ll need to contact your card issuer to explain your situation and find out if forbearance is an option. 

Does Your Credit Take a Hit When You Skip Payments? 

If you are late making a payment by at least 30 days—or you don’t make a payment at all—and you haven’t contacted your card issuer, that negative behavior can be reported to the credit bureaus. This is important to understand because payment history is the most heavily weighted factor when your credit score is calculated. However, if you’ve worked out an arrangement with your credit card issuer to skip a payment, it may extend the due date, waive late fees, and report your payment status as current, which means your payment history will be safe. 

During disasters and emergencies (like this one), lenders can choose not to report delinquencies (late or missed payments) to help preserve your credit score. And while forbearance and deferment may still show up on your credit report, they will not harm your credit score. 

Before agreeing to a financial assistance offer from your card issuer, ask how skipped or late payments will be relayed to the credit bureaus. Even better, get the agreement terms in writing just in case you see something amiss on your credit report later. 

If You Need Help, It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask For It

If your card company hasn’t clearly outlined how it’s helping struggling consumers right now, that doesn’t necessarily mean there aren't options. If you are unable to make a monthly payment, worried you might need to pay late, or concerned about your financial stability in general right now, reach out to your credit card issuer(s) before you fall behind. 

When contacting issuers, be persistent but patient. Many banks have noted that call volumes are high, wait times may be long, and online communication options such as sending a secure message through your online account or customer service may be a faster alternative. 

Lastly, keep tabs on your credit report to make sure any financial assistance you take advantage of isn’t hurting your credit history. Under normal circumstances, you get three free reports from the bureaus each year (via AnnualCreditReport.com), but right now, all three bureaus are generously offering free access to your reports each week through April 2021.

Article Sources

  1. Barclays. "COVID-19 – We’re here to help." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  2. myFICO. "What's in my FICO scores?" Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  3. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Protecting your credit during the coronavirus pandemic." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  4. Experian. "COVID-19 and Your Credit Report." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.

  5. AnnualCreditReport.com. "3 steps to your free credit reports." Accessed Sept. 28, 2020.