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Due to the economic impact of the pandemic, most major credit card issuers have realized they need to be more lenient with their payment policies — at least for a while. The majority now have COVID-19 resource pages on their websites, which list the different types of relief you can ask for when it comes to your credit card accounts, mortgage accounts, car loans and more.
To qualify for a break from your credit card payments or some other type of relief, you do need to reach out and ask. None of the major card providers will let you pause monthly payments or late fees unless you take the initiative to apply for this assistance.
Fortunately, asking for help shouldn’t be a drawn-out affair. In most cases, asking for help requires nothing more than filling out a form or calling into a credit card relief hotline. Here are some of the relief options you may want to ask for if you need some time to catch up.
New credit card due date
Long before the pandemic, many credit card issuers let their customers pick a due date that made the most sense for their lifestyle or the date of the month they were paid. Some issuers like Capital One advertise that you can change your due date on their cards as it suits you, and some credit cards like the Citi® Secured Mastercard® list the fact you can pick your due date alongside other cardholder perks.
Either way, it can make sense to ask your card issuer to move your payment due date closer to the day you get paid or any other part of the month that’s more convenient for you, such as the beginning or end of the month. They may be willing to accommodate you in order to ensure keeping up with your monthly payments is easier for you, and all you have to do is ask.
Most credit card issuers like Chase, Citi and American Express are letting customers defer their payments for a limited period of time, usually two to three months. You may even be able to continue using your credit card during the time your payments are deferred depending on your issuer. However, interest will continue accruing on your balances while your payments are paused, so don’t be surprised when your balance goes up during this forbearance period.
If you want the chance to skip a few months of credit card bills, reach out to your card issuer to request this help.
No late fees
Card issuers are also waiving late fees for periods when payments are deferred. Remember that you need to call in and specifically ask for assistance in order to qualify. If you skip a payment without getting approval from your card issuer first, you will face late fees and potential damage to your credit score.
Credit line increase
If you’re approaching your credit limit but you need more access to credit to cover your bills, you may be able to qualify for a credit line increase. An increase may not be hard to come by if your credit score is good and your income is high enough, but your card issuer will need to place a hard inquiry on your credit report in order to find out.
With that in mind, you may be better off applying for another credit card altogether if you need to borrow more money. If you decide to apply for a new card instead of requesting a credit line increase, check out cards that offer 0% APR for a limited time.
Extensions on credit card perks and benefits
Many credit card issuers that offer cards with high annual fees have had to rework their offerings in order to make cardholder perks more usable for their customers. For example, you can now use the $300 annual travel credit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve for groceries and gas through the end of the year. With the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, on the other hand, the $250 resort credit can now be used for dining at U.S. restaurants until the end of August 2020.
The information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
You may also have more time to meet the minimum spending requirement on your card to earn a welcome bonus or more time to use a specific airline or hotel loyalty benefit that comes from your card.
Waived annual fees
If your credit card has an annual fee, you may want to ask if you can have the fee waived or reduced. The Chase Sapphire Reserve already announced they’re crediting customers $100 of their annual fee if their card renews before July 1, 2020, and that cardholders will pay just $450 during this renewal.
If your card issuer hasn’t reduced your annual fee already, you can call in and ask for this type of help. If they will not waive the annual fee on your credit card, ask about downgrading your card to a different card product that doesn’t charge one.
Finally, don’t forget that you can dispute credit card charges on your account if you didn’t receive the product or service. If you booked flights and your airline canceled but won’t offer a refund or credit after you’ve tried to contact them multiple times, for example, you can file a dispute and let your card issuer work out the charges with them. In most cases, you’ll get a credit on your account right away and the credit becomes permanent unless the merchant can prove you owe the amount.
If you want to dispute a charge on your credit card, you may be able to do it online via your account management page. If you can’t manage to dispute a charge online, call the number on the back of your card to inquire.
Will seeking relief impact your credit?
Card issuers letting their customers defer payments are also helping consumers protect their credit during these uncertain times. For example, Wells Fargo, Chase and others will not report your missed payments to the credit bureaus if you are approved for deferred payments. This means you can spend time catching up on bills without having to worry about any impact on your credit score.
For that reason, asking for credit card relief is the right move if you’re struggling to keep up with your bills. With a few months of paused payments, a new due date or some help with disputed charges, you may have enough time to get back on your feet.