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As the coronavirus outbreak reached the U.S., 110 million people had underlying credit card debt, according to a new to a CreditCards.com poll.
With the uncertainty surrounding the virus and the economic hardships it's caused for many Americans, some credit card issuers are offering relief to cardholders — including those in debt.
“Banks are being remarkably generous when it comes to cardholders who are struggling,” CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Monday. “They'll give you a break if they know about it.”
PRE-CORONAVIRUS CREDIT CARD DEBT CARRIED OVER FOR 110M AMERICANS
For example, American Express tailors credit relief to individuals, which could include flexibility in paying bills. And under its financial hardship program, customers can potentially have reduced monthly payments and temporary relief from late payment fees, according to CreditCards.com. Citibank credit relief includes increased credit lines and forbearance from collections.
An American Express card in New Orleans. Aug. 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)
Among the best programs, Rossman said Apple Card has waived March payments without charging interest, which is “really important” on a case-by-case basis.
Most banks are also offering a direct line of contact for assistance. Rossman urged cardholders to “speak up” and contact their banks to advocate for relief.
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“Ask for a break,” he said. “See if they can waive that next payment, ideally without charging interest. Maybe they can also waive other fees.”
Rossman said just about all other banks are willing to rearrange due dates and waive payments, but most are still charging interest.
Cardholders should be wary of their credit score while relief packages and hardship programs are in effect, he said, and should double-check with their banks that joining these programs will not damage credit.
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“They are willing to work with you in times of stress,” he said. “The thing is, though, we just don't know how long this is going to go on. So whatever you do, be practical here."