As if the detrimental health issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic weren’t enough, its emergence has severely debilitated the financial outlook of many people. This, in turn has led to a lot of folks relying upon credit to make ends meet, hopefully until things take a turn for the better. Thing is, that play will only hold out for so long. Here’s a look as some potential pandemic credit card debt relief options If you are among those for whom time is about to run out.
Credit Card Programs
Card issuers have announced programs to help customers make it through the pandemic with their creditworthiness as intact as possible. Keep in mind though, only the squeaky wheels will get this grease. In other words, you’re mistaken thinking they’re going to seek to offer support if you suffer in silence.
You have to formally request assistance.
The good news here is most of them have sections of their websites dedicated to this activity. Check your issuer’s web presence first to what the deal might be in your instance. You’ll find more information about all of this at https://www.freedomdebtrelief.com/ as well.
Types of Assistance Offered
The nature of the credit card debt relief programs offered varies from company to company. However, most of them include some form of the following:
- Payment reductions
- Fee waivers/refunds
- Interest rate reductions
- Payment plans
Make the effort to contact a representative of the company before you fall behind on your payments. Let them know trouble is brewing the moment your income is threatened. Waiting until the problem hits means late fees, interest rate hikes and other penal actions card companies impose when payments are late.
You’ll need to provide supporting documentation regarding your impending hardship, so get a letter from your employer explaining why your income stream is about to be disrupted. Put together an explanation letter on your own if you’re self-employed.
What Consequences Will You Face?
Once you have their attention, try to learn all you can about the programs they offer and what the potential downsides are. For example, will interest continue to accrue if they’re offering to defer payments for a given period of time? Further, how long of a deferment period are they willing to extend to you?
Inquire about fees they might impose in exchange for granting dispensations. What looks like benevolence at face value could well have a profit motive hidden within it. Find out what they’re expecting up front so you can decide whether accepting their largesse will be worth it for you.
Another key bit of information to have is what will happen if the initial time period elapses before things turn around for you. Will they still be on your side and grant an extension, or will things turn adversarial at that point? Will the fact you needed help be reported negatively to the credit bureaus, which in turn could have a deleterious impact on your credit score.
Also take note of your rights under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act .The legislation outlines special requirements credit card companies are required to meet to help you protect your credit.
Get It in Writing
Upon reaching an agreement with your issuer, make sure they deliver the new terms to you in a written document. As nice as customer service reps are, they do sometimes forget to follow through. Plus, as you might well imagine, the pandemic and credit card relief programs have swamped them with calls just like yours. Make sure you get your deal in writing in case you need to present it to a different person at the company at a later date.