To say we’re currently living through “interesting times” is something of an understatement. Facing what can only be described as an unprecedented economic situation for most of us, it follows that a lot of people are having problems meeting financial obligations. Fortunately, there are a number of credit card debt relief options available during the COVID-19 pandemic of which you may be unaware.
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers the following advice:
Coronavirus Credit Card Relief Programs
Card issuers know what’s happening out here and have taken steps to help customers as much as possible. The smart thing to do is to get in touch with the company behind each of your credit cards and ask for financial assistance if you’re having issues. Keep in mind the process must be conducted formally and each company likely has a specific procedure you’ll need to follow. However, because customer service reps are overwhelmed, you might get father faster initially by looking at their websites where most of the common questions are answered before you call. You might find your questions have been answered online.
Common Solutions Offered
Things they all have in common in terms of the help they’re providing include:
• Reduced and deferred monthly payments
• Waived and refunded fees for late payments
• Interest rate reductions
• Establishment of payment plans
When you do call, let them know the virus has debilitated your cash flow and be prepared to show proof. Ask what sorts of relief packages they’re offering so you can choose one you know you’ll be able to fulfill.
In so doing, be sure to get clarity on the following key points.
- Fees associated with the relief package
- Whether or not interest continues to accumulate
- The duration of the relief period
- Extension possibilities if things don’t turn around quickly
- What information will be reported to credit agencies
If Those Won’t Work For You
There may be situations in which the proposals offered by card issuers will be unworkable for you. In that instance, you may need to look to more traditional credit card debt relief options. These include debt consolidation, credit counseling, debt management, debt settlement, or filing for bankruptcy protection.
Within those choices, you are bound to find one capable of helping to ease your burden. Bear in mind that some do carry more detrimental ramifications for your credit ranking than others (credit counseling, credit management and debt consolidation being the least abrasive), but all the choices can provide relief.
Get Written Documentation
Regardless of the option you choose, it’s important to ensure that the agreement you reach is recorded in writing. It’s equally vital to be certain that you understand every aspect of the agreement. Ask detailed questions about anything that doesn’t make sense to you and get a copy of the proposed agreement in writing to review before you sign it.
You’ll find that a non-profit credit counselor will be more than happy to help you unravel the parts you find confusing. Once you’re comfortable with what you’re presented, sign the agreement and adhere to the agreement. Pay careful attention to your monthly statements to be sure things are proceeding the way you discussed them. Look over the agreement again if you encounter any perceived aberrations to make sure your perception is correct before you call.
By and large, you’ll find a lot of credit card debt relief options are available during the COVID-19 pandemic. The key is finding one with which you can reliably function until things get turned around.