With the coronavirus (COVID-19) appearing more and more as though it will take a bite out of American consumers’ wallets — either by job loss, medical costs, panic shopping or employer cutbacks — credit card issuers are starting to communicate what assistance programs are available to their customers.
“For many Americans, whose financial margin for error is tiny even in the best of economic times, these disruptions can be a really big deal,” said CompareCards Senior Analyst Matt Schulz. “They can make it hard to pay your mortgage, car loan or credit card bill, for example.”
Card issuers have stepped up in the past with assistance programs to help their customers weather through terrorist attacks, floods, hurricanes, fires or other disasters, by either waiving late fees or interest charges, extending payment deadlines or even increasing credit limits.
CompareCards by LendingTree reached out to top card issuers to see what type of assistance is currently being offered to affected customers.
American Express is ready to assist customers having financial difficulties due to the effects of COVID-19, said Ashley Tufts, vice president of corporate affairs and communications at American Express. Cardholders can reach out to the company’s customer care professionals anytime by calling the number on the back of your card or through its digital servicing channels — online chat or the Amex app.
“We will work together to find a solution for their particular situation, such as discussing payment options or participating in available financial hardship programs,” Tufts said.
Apple card customers recently received notice that they will be able to skip their March credit card payment, without incurring interest charges. According to the customer email, Apple stated that cardholders can connect to Apple Customer Support via Messages and enroll in its customer assistance program, “which will allow you to skip your March payment without incurring interest charges.”
Bank of America
Bank of America launched a customer assistance page on its website stating, “We’re here for you with the solutions, support, and advice you need to manage your personal finances and to navigate the volatility of the market.” Bank of America also states that if you have been impacted by the coronavirus illness and need assistance with your account to contact the bank directly at 800-732-9194 or by calling the number on the back of your Bank of America credit card.
Capital One emailed the following statement to CompareCards: “We understand the concern and uncertainty people may be experiencing surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are committed to being responsive to the needs of our customers and associates as the situation evolves. We also understand that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial difficulties. Capital One is here to help, and we encourage customers who may be impacted to reach out so we can discuss and help find a solution.”
Cardholders can reach Capital One by calling the telephone number listed on the back of their credit card.
According to a customer service email, Chase said: “Like you, we’re monitoring the latest news about the coronavirus. That’s why we’re doing all we can to make sure our branches are open, our bankers are there and our call centers are staffed. You can count on us at times like this, especially if you need our help.”
“If you’ve been affected by COVID-19 and need help with your account,” it continued, “please call us at the number on the back of your credit or debit card, or on your statement, to learn how we might help.
According to Citibank’s website, the bank offers “always on” assistance programs, such as increased credit lines and collection forbearance programs for Citi credit cardholders. The bank has 24/7 dedicated assistance and encourages cardholders to call the telephone number on the back of their card to talk to a representative to see what type of account assistance may be made available.
“Discover will be extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19),” said Derek Cuculich, senior manager of public relations at Discover, adding that “Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.”
Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments, Cuculich said in an email to CompareCards.
“We encourage them to contact us by calling, and are directing them to Discover.com/coronavirus for phone numbers for each product line and other FAQs. We also can providing relief through our mobile text app, which connects a customer directly with an agent,” he said.
PNC Bank’s official statement states that the bank recognizes that customers may be negatively impacted by COVID-19: “To that end, we stand ready to work with those experiencing financial difficulty as a result, and we are taking the necessary steps to avoid potential disruptions of service to our customers. PNC is prepared to offer assistance, as needed, to impacted customers through a range of measures.”
If a customer is experiencing hardship as a result of the virus, PNC advised that they call 1-888-762-2265 between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST Monday through Friday; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Saturday & Sunday. The bank also stated that it “will continue to monitor the situation to determine potential extension or expansion of available assistance.”
U.S. Bank stated on its website that if you are being financially impacted by the coronavirus and need assistance, you should call 1-888-287-7817 to find out about what product discounts or “other customized solutions” are available.
According to an email from Evan A. Lapiska, U.S. Bank vice president of corporate affairs and communications: “U.S. Bank continues to closely monitor the situation but there are no updates specific to cardholders — we did communicate a few general updates for all bank customers — to share at this time. However, a number of options are regularly available to U.S. Bank customers experiencing hardship including rush replacement of a card, increasing credit limits and waiving fees. Customers with questions are encouraged to speak with a banker or contact customer service for more information.”
Wells Fargo has established a section of its website to provide assistance, which states that “protecting you and your finances during the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is our top priority” and that it aims to “continue to serve you and keep you informed.”
“Our thoughts are with anyone affected by the coronavirus,” according to a statement on the bank’s website. “Wells Fargo is committed to helping customers experiencing hardships, including from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). If in need of assistance, we encourage customers to call us at 1-800-219-9739 to speak with a trained specialist to discuss options available for their consumer lending, small business and deposit products.”
The bank added: “Please know we have devoted significant resources and efforts to help mitigate possible adverse impacts from the coronavirus and will continue working hard to provide the level of service you have come to expect.”