Coronavirus causing financial crisis — here’s how your credit card can help

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Credit Card and Debt Relief

Coronavirus causing financial crisis — here’s how your credit card can help

As the world continues to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, federal and state governments are offering relief and resources to Americans affected by the pandemic. In addition, many businesses and financial institutions are stepping up to provide some relief to those who are worried about their financial security.

Lenders that report data to credit bureaus as required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will not cause consumer credit scores to go down. Experian supports the CARES Act and is urging all consumers who are in financial distress as a result of COVID-19 to contact their lenders and reach an accommodation.

To help you navigate the relief options currently available in the U.S., we've compiled the following list of financial and non-financial institutions' websites where you can find more information on relief measures. This page will be updated as more resources become available.

Financial Institutions

At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) recommended that financial institutions work with consumers to help them cope with any financial hardship resulting from the pandemic. As a result, many institutions announced options for impacted consumers, including the possibility of lowered monthly payments, relief from late fees, temporarily lower interest rates and more.

The following is a list of financial institutions providing specific guidance on COVID-19 relief. If you have a creditor not listed here, consider contacting them directly to see if they are offering any relief to consumers impacted during this time.

Student Loans

Common Bond
Great Lakes Student Loans

Service Providers

In addition to financial institutions, many service providers have also taken steps to help consumers impacted by COVID-19. Some of these providers are offering payment relief, waiving fees and extending certain services.

If you don't see your service provider below, visit your provider's website or contact them directly to see if they have any relief options for which you're eligible. You can also contact your utility companies, as many large U.S. servicers have new policies aimed at helping consumers during this time.

Cable, Phone and Internet

Sprint Wireless

Government Resources

In response to the economic effects of COVID-19, many federal, state and local governments announced policies and guidance around how they plan to help consumers and business owners manage any financial strain. These include guidance on making housing payments, paying taxes, repaying government issued loans and more.

Additionally, the CARES Act, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and presidential executive orders expanded unemployment benefits; funded stimulus payments; modified certain credit reporting; and provided other relief for consumers and businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The following are some of the COVID-19 resource pages from government agencies explaining how they are working to help impacted consumers. In addition to these resources, check with your local and state governments to see if they are offering any additional relief.

  • Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB): The CFPB is a government agency that works in the interest of consumers' finances. In response to COVID-19, it is providing education and guidance for consumers whose finances may have been impacted.
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) : The FCC regulates communication (radio, television, wire, satellite and cable) and in response to COVID-19 offers guidance on keeping Americans connected.
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC): The FDIC regulates most banks and has recommended that lenders work with consumers that may be financially impacted due to COVID-19.
  • Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA): To help consumers who may be struggling to pay for their housing, the FHFA has published education to advise consumers on resources they may have during this time.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): The IRS is the main revenue service for the U.S. and in response to COVID-19 has extended tax due dates and is helping to process stimulus payments.
  • U.S. Department of Labor: In response to the impact COVID-19 has had on the American workforce, the Department of Labor is working to help impacted consumers access unemployment benefits throughout the country.
  • U.S. Department of Education: As part of the CARES Act, repayment of student loans has changed for many Americans. The U.S. Department of Education is helping to facilitate many of these changes to student loans.
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD): As many Americans are struggling to pay for their housing, HUD has outlined guidance for foreclosures and evictions that are meant to help protect Americans' homes during the pandemic.
  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): As part of the CARES Act, the SBA is working to distribute funding to certain small businesses.

Auto Lenders

As consumers struggle with unemployment and lost income, auto lenders have announced relief options for those impacted by COVID-19. Some lenders are offering deferment options and lease extensions, and a number have created designated COVID-19 resource centers to support customers that need assistance.

Auto Insurance

Auto insurers may be offering continued relief options. Check with your provider to find out what assistance may be available.

Additional Financial Assistance

Consumers facing financial hardship may be looking for extra assistance managing things budgeting, repayment and bill pay. Having the proper resources in place for managing your finances can sometimes make the difference between falling behind and getting ahead.

Here are some additional resources you might consider if you've found yourself struggling financially during this time.

For information focused on current health guidance, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 resource page.


Coronavirus causing financial crisis — here’s how your credit card can help

Coronavirus causing financial crisis — here’s how your credit card can help

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy, with unemployment surging to its highest point since the Great Depression. Roughly 55 percent of adult Americans have credit card debt, and an economic downturn can make it even more challenging keeping up with payments.

While the stimulus package hasn’t benefited credit card holders it has student loan borrowers, many card issuers have offered relief to cardholders who can’t make their payments in the form of forbearance programs.

Despite the potential risks that come with having credit card debt during economic hardship, having the right credit cards for a financial emergency can help your situation.

How to use credit cards for a financial emergency

If your credit is in good shape, getting the right credit card can help you weather the storm of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the economy. Credible can help you compare all credit cards to find the option — from earning travel points to cashing in on rewards — that best fits your financial needs.


If you're looking for something specific to preparing for a financial crisis, these three options are worth considering.

  • Delay interest with a 0% APR promotion: Some credit cards offer an introductory zero percent APR on new purchases for anywhere between six and 20 months. This feature allows you to cover your living expenses without worrying about the immediate threat of interest charges. Just make sure to pay your minimum monthly payment every month, and you can make a plan to pay back the debt when you’re back on your feet.
  • Reduce interest with a balance transfer: Balance transfer cards offer an introductory zero percent APR on balances transferred from another credit card. So, if you currently have a large balance, you can move some or all of it to a new card and work on paying it down interest-free. Most of the best balance transfer cards give you between 15 and 21 of no interest, but many of them charge a balance transfer fee, which typically ranges from 3 percent to 5 percent of the transfer amount.
  • Save more cash: One of the benefits of using a credit card is that you’re using the card issuer’s money instead of your own. Of course, you have to pay for that privilege, but some credit cards—mostly from local credit unions—charge interest rates in the single digits. If your income has been lost or significantly reduced, using a low-interest credit card can help you avoid dipping into your savings accounts until you absolutely have to.

Find the right credit card for you

There’s no credit card out there that’s best for everyone, so it’s important to think about your financial situation and your goals before you choose one.

Keep in mind that most low-interest, zero percent APR and balance transfer cards require at least good credit, which means a FICO credit score of 670 or higher. If you have an idea of what credit score range you fall into, you can insert which type of credit card you're interested in into Credible's free online tool and compare rewards, rates and fees instantly.


Once you understand what you want in a credit card, take some time to compare several options, along with their features, to make sure you get the right one. For example, if you need a zero percent APR card, look at how long their promotional periods last, whether the cards offer rewards and what other useful benefits you can get.

Credible can help you with this process by giving you some of the top options available all in one place.

Protect your credit score during the coronavirus pandemic

As you consider whether using credit cards in a financial emergency is right for you, it’s important to ensure you’re mindful of how they can impact your credit score.

For example, missing a payment for 30 days or more can drop your credit score significantly because your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score. Also, racking up a large balance can also reduce your score—some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of your card’s credit limit, but the lower, the better.


As a result, it’s essential to make at least the minimum payment every month to avoid credit score issues, though paying in full is ideal if you can do it. Also, try to avoid relying too much on credit cards to maintain a relatively low balance.

As you take these steps to use credit cards responsibly, you’ll be able to take advantage of the benefits they can provide without exposing yourself too much to their potential pitfalls.


7 things you can do to reduce your coronavirus-related financial stress

Coronavirus causing financial crisis — here’s how your credit card can help

Keeping a budget is one of the best things you can do to gain control over your money under normal circumstances, but it’s going to be even more important right now. Starting an emergency budget — a leaner version of your current budget — will show you the minimum amount of money you can live with and where your pain points are.

An emergency budget is completely stripped of extras down to essential spending only. You can start by cutting:

  • Subscription services — Get rid of weekly refrigerated meal-prep boxes, shave clubs, clothing boxes, etc.
  • Takeout — Helping out your local economy is great, but you may have to focus on your needs right now.
  • Entertainment costs — Cut extra streaming services, take advantage of free streaming concerts, check out what your library offers online, go for a walk in your neighborhood, etc.
  • Groceries — Buy generic when possible and make a meal plan. Think about it this: What’s the bare minimum you can stand to spend at the grocery store?

The stay-at-home orders most of us are facing make it easier to cut a lot of spending — no one is going to sporting events, concerts, or wandering the mall. But keep your online spending in check so you can focus on essentials only.

And I said, an emergency budget will help you see what else needs to be addressed, and the points below should help. Read 12 free budget templates to get you started.

2. Contact your mortgage company or landlord

Your mortgage or rent check is possibly one of the biggest expenses you have, making it one of the hardest to keep up with during this crisis. Some states and banks are putting safeties in place (more on this in a second), but that’s not going to help everyone.

You can pick up the phone and call your lender or landlord and ask what your options are. Be direct about how COVID-19 has affected your finances, and ask questions :

  • What options or payment plans are available at this time?
  • Can you defer payments for me?
  • For renters, you could ask if there is an option to pay what you can.

Whatever you do, get everything in writing and keep track of what you’ve paid and when. This is probably going to be a bigger issue for renters, but it will also help homeowners keep track of where they’re at on their mortgages.

Some companies might ask for a financial hardship letter, which states why you’re experiencing financial stress and specifically what you’re looking for. has guidance on writing a letter.

Most banks are going to be willing to work with you because the financial stress is so widespread. Ally Bank, Bank of America, and Citibank are just a few of the big names that have already announced accommodations for borrowers.

Additionally, it would be wise to check with your state’s tenant agency to see if rent payment hardship protections, freezes, or eviction waivers have been expanded or increased. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has a directory for you to find your state agency.

3. Call credit card companies to lower rates

Credit card debt is something that is already a struggle for many Americans, and this current financial crisis is going to make it even more difficult. Still, you have options, calling your credit card company to negotiate for a lower rate, to not report late payments, or temporarily defer payments.

Actually, just many banks are offering mortgage accommodations due to the coronavirus, some are also helping credit card holders.

Here’s how some of the largest credit card companies are responding:

  • American Express is waiving interest and late payment fees for eligible personal and business cards.
  • Bank of America has an online request form for payment deferrals.
  • Chase is helping its customers by waiving fees and extending payment due dates.
  • Citi customers can ask about temporarily pausing minimum payments or extending your line of credit.
  • Capital One has an assistance program to waive interest and fees.
  • Discover can help with payment timing, late payments, and fees.

The majority of these programs appear to be on a case-by-case basis, so call and speak to someone about specifics. Be upfront about what’s going on, and only take part in these programs if you really have to.

4. Consider a balance transfer card

Balance transfer cards let you transfer your balance from one credit card to another. Some offer free transfers and/or promotional periods with 6-18 months of zero interest on the transferred balance. These cards are really meant to attract new credit card customers, but if you’re smart with credit cards, they could be a big help right now.

I highly recommend that you check out how your current credit companies can help first. Then, carefully study all of the offers available before opening a new balance transfer card. Here’s what you’ll need to think about:

  • Look for a card that offers 0% interest for a longer period.
  • Do the math to make sure the balance transfer card won’t cost you more — some cards have high transfer fees and interest rates that can negate the short-term benefit of 0% interest.
  • Know that you’ll need to make the minimum payment each month to qualify for 0% interest.
  • Make sure you understand the rules of your cardholder agreement. Specifically look at how you’ll lose the 0% interest period, late payments, bouncing a check, exceeding your credit limit, etc.
  • You will have better options with a high credit score.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a guide (PDF, 120KB) to help you shop around for the best card.

In all honesty, it makes me a little nervous to advise that anyone take out a new credit card as a way to reduce their financial stress, so please exhaust all other options first. This is a stressful time, and you’re trying to reduce stress, not add to it.

5. Learn about local relief programs

Some states and local governments have relief plans in place to help those in their community. California has released one of the most extensive plans that includes up to three months of deferred mortgage payments.

Other states and communities have programs that can assist with utility payments. You can contact the office of your local government to see what’s available to you, and follow your local government on social media to stay current on any new programs.

6. Look for community assistance programs

One of the incredible things I’ve seen come this crisis is how people are coming together to support people in their community. I’ve seen churches come together to help their congregations and local area, restaurants providing meals for healthcare workers, and more. There are even some groups helping high-need families cover their utility payments.

Groups the Mutual Aid Network are mobilizing to help, through services organizing volunteers to pack bulk grocery items into boxes for those who can’t go into grocery store. Learn more about their self-support projects.

Efforts this are popping up all over the country, and social media seems to be the best place to find information about what’s in your area. You can also contact food banks, places of worship, and community centers to find out what’s available to you. Another great resource is APA's Education FAQs, which offer some information on assistance programs as well.

7. Avoid things that trigger your spending

We all have a lot of time at home right now, and boredom can cause some people to spend money. Add stress from the coronavirus and the ease of online shopping, and you have a recipe for even money problems.

Take some time to think about what triggers your spending and try to cut it your day. You might want to unsubscribe from emails, unfollow brands or influencers on Instagram, or stop checking the news as much.


Protecting your credit during the coronavirus pandemic | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Coronavirus causing financial crisis — here’s how your credit card can help

Many lenders and creditors report your payment performance to credit reporting agencies (also known as consumer reporting companies or credit bureaus). This includes mortgage servicers and credit card companies, as well as utility providers, cell phone service, landlords, and others that you owe money to and who provide data on accounts in collection.

If you are having trouble paying your bills, it’s important to reach out to your lender or creditor. Many lenders and creditors have announced proactive measures to help borrowers impacted by COVID-19. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has forbearance and credit reporting requirements that may apply to your situation.

As with other natural disasters and emergencies, your creditors or lenders may be willing—and in some case are required—to provide forbearance, loan extensions, a reduction in interest rates, and/or other flexibilities for repayment.

Some lenders are also saying they will not report late payments to credit reporting agencies or are waiving late fees for borrowers due to this pandemic.

Under the CARES Act, in certain situations, lenders are required to report your accounts as current.

You can reach out to your lender or creditor and find out what options or programs are available. These programs are sometimes called “hardship” or “relief programs.” These programs may allow you to enter into an agreement to:

  • Defer or pause one or more payments
  • Make a partial payment
  • Forbear (temporarily stop paying) any delinquent amounts
  • Modify a loan or contract
  • Receive a suspension for federal student loan payments
  • Other assistance or relief

The CARES Act calls these agreements “accommodations.”

To reach out to your lender, look for a customer service number on a copy of your bill for your mortgage, credit card, auto loan, or other loan.

Some lenders are facing high call volumes because of the pandemic, so the wait time may be long.

You can also check your lender’s website to see if they have information that can help you, ways to communicate electronically, or online applications for hardship programs.

When contacting your lenders, make sure you have your account number and payment information available.

Be prepared to discuss your financial and employment situation, as well as how much you can afford to pay considering your income, expenses, and assets. Have a list of questions prepared in advance.

You want to make sure you’re completely comfortable with the terms before you make an agreement.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  • If I can’t make my payment as a result of the coronavirus, what are the hardship or relief programs available?
  • Are there fees associated with any of these programs?
  • Will I have the option of deferring the repayment of any amounts owed to the end of my loan?
  • If I’m able to defer or lower my monthly payments, will interest continue to accrue during this hardship or relief period?
  • How long does the hardship or relief period last and when will I need to start repaying?
  • If my financial situation hasn’t changed once the hardship or relief period ends, what will be the options?
  • How will this agreement or relief be reported to the credit reporting agencies? Note: that the recently passed CARES Act places special requirements on companies that report to credit reporting agencies if they provide payment relief due to coronavirus.
  • For credit cards—will I lose the ability to use my card if I enroll or request relief?

There are special forbearance or relief programs for some types of mortgages. To learn more, go to the Mortgage and housing assistance page.

Depending on whether you were able to make an agreement or accommodation when you talked to your lender, there could be different impacts on your credit reports and scores.

Your credit scores are calculated the information in your credit report. There are credit scores for different purposes and for loan products. Many factors go into computing your credit scores.

Learn more about the relationship between credit reports and credit scores.

Two companies, FICO and VantageScore, among others, create scoring models that analyze your credit and generate a credit score.

You can find out more information of how these companies are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and treating forbearances and deferrals from FICO and VantageScore .

It is important to keep in mind that different lenders use different credit scores including scores they build and manage themselves.

The CARES Act places special requirements on companies that report your payment information to credit reporting agencies. These requirements apply if you are affected by the coronavirus pandemic and if your lender gives you an accommodation to defer a payment, make partial payments, forbear a delinquency, modify a loan, or other relief.

If your lender does make an agreement or accommodation with you:

How your lenders report your account to credit reporting agencies under the CARES Act depends on whether you are current or already delinquent when this agreement is made. These reporting requirements apply only if you are making any payments required by the agreement.

  • If your account is current and you make an agreement to make a partial payment, skip a payment, or other accommodation, then the creditor is to report to credit reporting companies that you are current on your loan or account.
  • If your account is already delinquent and you make an agreement, then the creditor cannot report you as more delinquent (such as reporting you as 60 days delinquent when you started out 30 days delinquent) during the period of the agreement.
  • If your account is already delinquent and you make an agreement, and you bring your account current, the creditor must report that you are current on your loan or account.

This CARES Act requirement applies only to agreements made between January 31, 2020 and the later of either:

  • 120 days after March 27, 2020 or
  • 120 days after the national emergency concerning COVID–19 ends.

If your lender does NOT give you an accommodation:

If your lender is not required to provide an accommodation and decides not to make an agreement with you, this will ly impact your credit report. If you are unable to make a payment or a minimum payment as required and you cannot obtain an accommodation, your lender ly will report that your account is now delinquent.

Your lender may offer you or you can request that the lender place a “special comment” on your account noting that the account was affected by a national emergency as a result of the pandemic. The comment will not affect your credit scores, and your loan will still be recorded as delinquent.

But a prospective landlord, employer, or lender may take it into account when considering you for a loan, a job, or housing. The special comment may help a lender or other report user understand that you ordinarily make your payments but could not make payments for a period of time due to the pandemic.

In addition, the special comment is temporary and may only show on your account for a period of time, such as during the time of a declared national emergency. When the lender stops furnishing the special comment information, it disappears permanently and entirely from your credit report.

There will be no record that there was ever a special comment placed on your credit report.

You can also add a “permanent comment” to your credit file saying that you have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

This comment will not affect your credit score, and your delinquent loan will still be reflected in your credit score.

However, the comment will remain in your file even after the national emergency is over, and a prospective landlord, employer, or lender may take it into account.

The CARES Act also applies to certain federal student loans and includes requirements relating to suspending payments and credit reporting. During the period that payments on federal student loans are suspended by the Department of Education, any payment that has been suspended is to be reported as if it were a regularly scheduled payment made by the borrower.

How do I get a copy of my credit report?

Right now, it’s easier than ever to check your credit report more often. That’s because everyone is eligible to get free weekly online credit reports from the three nationwide credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. To get your free reports, go to . The credit reporting agencies are making these reports free until April 2021.

Each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian – are already required to provide you, on your request, with a free credit report once every twelve months. Be sure to check your reports for errors and dispute any inaccurate information.

In addition to your free weekly online credit reports until April 2021 and your free annual credit reports, all U.S.

consumers are entitled to six free credit reports every 12 months from Equifax through December 2026. You can access these free reports online at or get a “myEquifax” account at equifax.

com/personal/credit-report-services/free-credit-reports/ or call Equifax at 866-349-5191.

How often should I check my credit reports after talking to my lender?

After making an agreement or accommodation with your lender, you should check your credit reports to make sure that the agreement or accommodation is accurately reflected. For example, if your lender agreed to let you pause one month’s payment, make sure they didn’t report it as delinquent or a missed payment.

It could take a month or more for the changes from your lender to show up on your credit reports, but you should check them regularly especially if you are or will be in the market for credit, or if your credit reporting data will be used to make a lending, employment, or housing decision about you.

So, check your credit reports after a month or two to see if the reports are accurate.

There are other reports you may want to check too, such as reports that monitor your bank and checking account history, phone, utility, and rental payment history, among others. The CFPB has a list of consumer reporting companies where you can learn more about which reports might be important to you, depending on your specific situation.

You may also be able to get a free copy of your credit scores. Check out the updated list of companies and organizations that said they offer free credit scores to learn about your options for accessing one of your credit scores free of charge.

How can I get errors in my credit report fixed?

If your credit reports are not accurate or don’t reflect your agreements with your lenders, you can check your reports for errors and dispute any inaccurate information.

If you find inaccurate information on your credit reports, use the CFPB’s step-by-step guide to dispute that information with the credit reporting agency and the company that provided that information to them, known as a “furnisher.” After you send your dispute, check your report again.

You may want to wait a month or two before checking to see if the errors have been corrected. You should check your reports with all three nationwide credit reporting agencies.

Your lender or creditor may only report or furnish your information to one credit reporting agency, so checking all three will ensure that you know your information is correctly reported. And if you need to dispute incorrect information, you will know which credit reporting agency to contact.

If your dispute is not resolved with the credit reporting agency, you can ask that a brief statement of the dispute be included in your file and included or summarized in future reports. You can also submit a complaint at any time to the CFPB at


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