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Coronavirus: What banks, lenders, utilities and more are doing to help customers financially

Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 27, 2020. We will continues to update as we get new details from banks, lenders, and utility companies.

As fears of the spreading coronavirus batters markets, shutters businesses, and causes major layoffs, many Americans are worried how they can weather the pandemic financially.

Many companies are stepping in to ease payment burdens on behalf of their customers. Here’s what some of the major banks, lenders, cell phone companies, and utilities are doing.

If your provider is not listed, contact the company directly to see if you can enroll in a skip-a-payment program or other hardship program.

Banks and lenders

Many companies are stepping in to ease payment burdens on behalf of their customers. (Photo: Getty Creative)
Many companies are stepping in to ease payment burdens on behalf of their customers. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Ally Financial

Ally is offering the following for its borrowers.

  • Car loan borrowers can defer payment up to 120 days with no late fees. Finance charges will still accrue.

  • New car loan borrowers can defer their first payment for 90 days.

  • Existing mortgage borrowers can defer payment up to 120 days with no late fees. Interest will still accrue.

  • All fees for expedited checks and debit cards, overdrafts, and excessive transactions on savings accounts are waived for the next 120 days.

Ally customers who need other solutions for their needs can contact the bank at the following:

  • Ally Auto Customer Care at 1-888-925-2559

  • Ally Home Loans Customer Care at 1-866-401-4742

  • Ally Bank Customer Care at 1-877-247-2559

American Express

The credit card issuer is reportedly waiving late fees and interest charges for its cardholders. American Express did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation.

Bank of America

Bank of America said assistance will be given through the following means, for affected consumers who contact the company:

  • Refunds on fees

  • Deferred payments

  • No negative credit bureau reporting

The above would apply for deposit accounts, credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, small business loans and others.

“We want clients facing a hardship related to coronavirus to call us and let us know they need help,” said Bank of America in an email statement to Yahoo Finance. “Clients should call the number on the back of their Bank of America card or go to our website and click the ‘Contact Us’ tab.”

Barclays

Barclays is offering the following for U.S. credit cardholders facing a hardship related to the coronavirus:

  • Skip a monthly payment

  • Offer late fee waivers

  • Cash advance fee waivers

  • Finance charge adjustments

  • Offer flexible reviews for credit line experiences

“We understand that this is a difficult and uncertain time for many of our cardmembers and their families, and we are here to help,” said a Barclays Consumer Bank spokesperson in an emailed statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional measures as needed to best support our customers who are struggling financially as a result of the current outbreak.”

Capital One

Capital One encourages customers to reach out to the company on an individual basis. It also created a microsite regarding the coronavirus. Customers also can still access a few physical branches where Capital One employees will help them behind protective glass or “drive-thru windows.

“We understand the concern and uncertainty people may have experiencing the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are committed to being responsive to the needs of our customers and associates as the situation evolves,” said a Capital One spokesperson in an email statement. “We also understand that there may be instances where customers find themselves facing financial difficulties.”

As the coronavirus disrupts much of American life, some people may find it hard to pay their bills on time. Some companies are stepping in with relief. (Photo: Getty Creative)
As the coronavirus disrupts much of American life, some people may find it hard to pay their bills on time. Some companies are stepping in with relief. (Photo: Getty Creative)

Chase

Chase did not provide any specific relief measures to customers, but encourages them to reach out if they need help making payments.

“If you’re affected by COVID-19 and need help with your accounts or making payments, please reach out to us,” said Thasunda Brown Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Bank on the website.

The bank didn’t respond to requests for more details.

Citi

For a 30-day period starting March 9, Citi customers have the following available to them, according to their website:

  • Fee waivers on monthly service fees

  • Waived penalties for early CD withdrawals

  • Credit card line increases and collection forbearance programs

  • Hardship programs for mortgages

Discover

“Discover will be extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of COVID-19,” according to an email from Derek Cuculich, a company spokesman. “Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.”

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs, the issuer behind the Apple Card, emailed cardholders on March 14, telling them they had the option of enrolling in the Customer Assistance Program and skipping their March payment without any additional interest charges.

“We understand that the rapidly-evolving COVID-19 situation poses unique challenges for everyone and some customers may have difficulty making their monthly payments,” the email stated. “Apple Card is committed to helping you lead a healthier financial life.”

Customers may have to wait a few days before their enrollment is complete.

Key Bank

Key Bank, which has facilities in states ranging from Alaska to Washington D.C. has announced several efforts to help those affected by the COVID-19. There will be no negative reporting to credit bureaus, and the deferrals are available for mortgages, home equity loans, student loans, auto loans, lines of credit and credit card payments.

  • It would defer payments for at least 90 days for those clients facing economic hardship upon request.

  • Provide counseling for small businesses struggling during this time

  • Offer a temporary assistance loan up to $5,000 with same day approval, low interest rates and next day funding.

Kiva

Kiva, the micro-loan program which gained prominence for helping low-income entrepreneurs across the world is offering 0% loans for U.S residents.

  • Loans up to $15,000

  • Grace periods up to 6 months for repayment

PNC Bank

PNC Bank said in an emailed statement that it will assist affected customers in the following ways:

  • Waiving or refunding fees on deposit accounts or lending products such as credit cards and mortgages.

  • Offering an emergency hardship loan for qualified customers and employees.

  • Offering a small business term loan to help those who may need additional funds at a low rate.

“We hope that our consumer and small business customers who require assistance during this difficult time will reach out to us so that we can determine how best to help,” said a PNC spokesperson.

SoFi

SoFi, the online lender that offers student loans, mortgages, and personal loans, lists accomodations available to customers on its website.

You can inquire about forbearance and hardship relief by contacting 877-292-7470 or sending a secure message through sofi.mohela.com.

“To inquire about forbearance and hardship relief due to COVID-19, members should contact us and we can them through SoFi’s programs for qualified borrowers to provide support related to late payments, timing of payments, or late fees,” said a SoFi in an email to Yahoo Finance. “All members directly and indirectly impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to be considered for an initial one month deferment.”

Washington Federal Bank

Washington Federal Bank, which operates over 200 branches across the U.S. has offered small businesses a five-year line of credit. Those that have experienced a drop of 10% or more in revenue can receive up to $200,000 with no interest for 90 days.

Wells Fargo

In an effort to ease financial strains on its customers, Wells Fargo is providing the following:

  • Fee waivers

  • Payment deferrals

  • Other assistance for credit card, auto, mortgage, small business and personal loan customers who contact them

“Our first priority remains keeping Wells Fargo employees and customers safe and well-informed, and meeting the needs of our customers,” said Beth Richek, a bank spokesperson, in an emailed statement. “We will continue to communicate with customers as the situation evolves.”

Mortgages

Fannie Mae

Fannie Mae, which guarantees home loans, issued a memo detailing the following:

  • Foreclosures sales and evictions of borrowers are suspended for 60 days.

  • Homeowners impacted by the coronavirus outbreak are eligible for a forbearance plan to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months.

  • Reporting to credit bureaus any past due payments in a forbearance plan as a result of the coronavirus is suspended.

  • Homeowners in a forbearance plan won’t incur late fees.

  • After forbearance, servicers must work with borrowers to create a permanent plan to help maintain or reduce monthly payments, including a loan modification.

“We encourage residents whose employment or income are impacted by COVID-19 to seek available assistance as soon as possible,” said Malloy Evans, senior vice president and single-family chief credit officer at Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae also recently outlined relief for renters, which could apply to more than 27,000 properties nationwide.

  • Grant forbearance to borrowers in Fannie Mae-financed properties for up to three months.

  • Borrowers must suspend evictions of tenants who are facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19.

If you can't pay a bill, contact the company to see if you can arrange a payment plan. (Photo: Getty Creative)
If you can't pay a bill, contact the company to see if you can arrange a payment plan. (Photo: Getty Creative)

FHA

The Federal Housing Administration is halting all foreclosure and evictions for single-family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages for the next 60 days.

Freddie Mac

Freddie Mac, which also backs mortgages, also sent out a memo highlighting how it would assist burdened customers. Freddie Mac is allowing the following:

  • Providing borrowers forbearance for up to 12 months

  • Waiving assessments of penalties or late fees against borrowers

  • Suspending the reporting of delinquency related to forbearance, repayment or trial plans to credit bureaus

  • Allowing servicers to offer borrowers additional loss mitigation options that they provide after natural disasters, including loan modifications

  • Borrowers are eligible for forbearance regardless if the property is owner-occupied, a second home, or an investment property.

“We are committed to helping families affected by the virus and we are instructing servicers to work with borrowers who are unable to make their mortgage payments to ensure they are evaluated for a forbearance plan or other appropriate assistance,” said Kevin Palmer, senior vice president of single-family portfolio management at Freddie Mac. “We ask that servicers be responsive to potential requests for assistance from borrowers who may be impacted by COVID-19.”

Cell phone and internet companies

The Federal Communications Commission asked internet and telephone companies to pledge the following:

  • Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of they can’t pay their bills due the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Waive late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

The list of companies who took this pledge can be found here. Below is what the biggest cellphone and internet companies are doing.

AT&T

  • Broadband usage caps and fees are suspended for customers at home using more data. All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers, including fixed wireless internet, can use unlimited internet data.

  • The company is maintaining its public Wi-Fi hotspots open.

  • Limited-income households can get internet access at $10/month through its Access from AT&T program.

  • The company won’t terminate service of any wireless, home phone, or broadband for residential or small business customers if they can’t pay their bill due to the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also waiving late fees for those customers.

Sprint

  • Customers with metered data plans get unlimited data for 60 days, starting March 18.

  • Customers with hotspot-capable devices get 20 GB of free mobile hotspot, starting March 18.

  • Per-minute toll charges for international long-distance calls from the U.S. to CDC- defined Level 3 countries are waived, starting March 17.

  • All orders on sprint.com get free next-day shipping and waived activation fees.

A man wearing gloves as a protective measure, holds a smartphone in Madrid on March 19, 2020. (Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)
A man wearing gloves as a protective measure, holds a smartphone in Madrid on March 19, 2020. (Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)

T-Mobile

  • All T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers with plans with data will have unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days. This excludes roaming.

  • T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans with hotspot data will get additional 20GB of mobile hotspot / tethering service for the next 60 days.

  • If you can’t pay your bill, you can set up a payment arrangement online.

Verizon

Verizon, which is the parent company of Cashay, is doing the following during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Waiving late fees and keeping individuals and small businesses connected if negatively impacted by the crisis.

  • Giving wireless prepaid customers 300 additional minutes to call level 3 countries.

  • Waiving activation fees on new lines of service and upgrade fees, starting March 18, for purchases and service-only activations made through verizonwireless.com and the My Verizon app.

Utilities

ConEdison

ConEdison, which powers over 10 million homes across the U.S., put the following on its website:

  • Service will not be shut off for non-payment.

  • New late-payment fees will be waived.

  • No-access fees are suspended if the utility can’t read your meter.

  • There are no fees for making payments with credit or debit cards.

  • Fees are suspended for refusing smart meter installations.

  • Customers can arrange for payment extensions and agreements online.

National Grid

National Grid, which provides gas and electricity to New York, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts residents, has shared the following:

  • The utility will temporarily suspend collections, including service disconnections, in a number of New York homes until the end of April. Regular billing still continues.

“If customers are experiencing financial difficulty they should reach out,” said Karen Young, a company spokesperson. “We will evaluate in April if there is a need to continue this policy.”

Dhara is a writer for Cashay and Janna is an editor for Cashay. Follow them on Twitter @dsinghx and @JannaHerron.

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