If you’re up against it with your credit card company, think about negotiating

Let’s make a deal.

That’s what some suddenly out of work American workers need to do with their creditors.

And, with 30 million Americans recently filing for unemployment benefits, many are having problems paying bills. If you can’t pay your credit card because you lost your job owing to the Coronavirus, your card company might help. Depending on the card, the issuer might let you skip a month, waive fees or extend your credit line.

Some Financial Institutions Ready to Help

Banks, big credit card issuers, are “working to identify and assist affected clients and provide the right support to address their unique personal needs,” said a spokeswoman for the American Bankers Association.

Indeed, Apple Card was recently permitting cardholders to skip recent payments without incurring interest. 

“It allowed cardholders to pass on both March and April. This was the most generous relief program in the industry,” according to Ted Rossman, a card industry analyst with CreditCards.com.

The Credit Card Business Says It Has a Heart

“The card industry is trying to be empathetic,” says Bill Hardikopf, the founder of LowCards.com. “The industry is trying to help but also avoid another 2008 crisis,” he adds. 

That’s when millions of cardholders defaulted. And, as they defaulted, lots of card companies had big write-offs owing to bed debt. Some card companies are trying to prevent that and say cardholders should talk it over.

Call Us

Bank of America “is encouraging customers affected by the Coronavirus who need financial help to call the bank’s dedicated client care number at the phone number listed on their credit or debit card or statement,” the company said.

Discover Card “is extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of the Coronavirus,” the company said. “Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.”

Capitol One, PNC, Wells Fargo and Chase have said they will work with cardholders “on a case by case basis.”

Some Will Let You Borrow More

Some banks are also allowing clients to temporarily increase credit limits. Be very careful taking advantage of this. 

These are difficult times and if you use your credit card to try to survive, you may dig yourself a hole that it might take years to escape.

Try to Make a Deal

The point, says a card expert, is to talk things over with your card company. He says that, under these circumstances many companies will be amendable to making a deal.

“Speak up and tell the card company if you are having a problem,” Hardikopf advises. “And be sure to get any relief offers in writing. A promise of someone on an 800 line isn’t the same as having it in writing.” 

Putting it in writing, Hardikopf adds, is important because payment problems, even under these circumstances, “could irreparably damage” a cardholder’s credit ratings.


Gregory Bresiger
Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent financial journalist from Queens, New York. His articles have appeared in publications such as Financial Planner Magazine and The New York Post.