You are probably reading this article because you have, like most of us, been caught up in the Coronavirus pandemic. Even the word itself contains the word ‘PANIC’. Our first advice is DON’T. Most of us will have two major concerns. Number one will be for the health and safety of our loved ones. The second worry the will be for managing our finances in circumstances constrained by the need to limit the spread of a virulent disease. Read this article to know ways to manage credit card payments during Coronavirus pandemic
The federal authorities and state legislatures have moved quickly to provide support in both areas of concern.
- For most people testing and treatment for COVID-19 infection is free. However, self-isolation and/or enforced hospitalization can result in reduced family income. Social distancing and hygiene regulations may result in enforced lay-offs and possible loss of employment.
- Lay-offs and loss of employment, however brief, create financial difficulties which may have many longer-term implications.
The purpose of this article is to offer some suggestions on how to find financial protection from Coronavirus pandemic.
Our first advice was DON’T PANIC. Our SECOND piece of advice is ACT RIGHT NOW!
Before you do anything else add up your projected household income (check your state’s unemployment policies). The recent CAREs act (see below) allows states to extend the benefit to a wider range of employment e.g. self-employed and Gig employment and for up to 13 weeks.
Closely assess your projected expenses.
Your mortgage or rent will probably come top of your outgoings. Check our article on how to manage mortgage during Coronavirus pandemic.
Most of your outgoings will be paid on a credit card so it is vital that you keep this means of payment for goods and services open. NOTE: this is particularly true as traders are increasingly unwilling to accept cash. Cash has been identified as a significant medium of viral transmission.
Underline the necessities! Put the ‘we can manage without’ in a separate column. You may have to!
Now, contact your lenders (credit card company(s)), loan servicers (mortgage), and other creditors (store cards, trade accounts).
If you’re not able to pay your bills on time check their websites, (before you call) to see if they have information that can help you.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other financial regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with their customers to meet their community needs.
If you can’t make a payment now, need more time, or want to discuss payment options, contact your lenders and servicers to let them know about your situation. Being behind on your payments can have a lasting impact on your credit.
Credit card companies and lenders may be able to offer you a number of options to help you. This could include waiving certain fees like ATM, overdrafts, and late fees, as well as allowing you to delay, adjust, or skip some payments.
When contacting your lenders, be prepared to explain:
- Your financial and employment situation
- How much you can afford to pay
- When you’re likely to be able to restart regular payments
- Be prepared to discuss your income, expenses, and assets
LOOK FOR ADVICE
Work with housing and credit counselors to understand your options.
These trained professionals provide advice for little or no cost, and they will work with you to discuss your situation, evaluate options, and even help you negotiate with your lenders and servicers.
- HUD-Approved Housing Counsellors. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counselors can discuss options with you if you’re having trouble paying your mortgage loan or reverse mortgage loan. This may also include for bearance or a modified payment program.
- Credit Counsellors. Reputable credit counselling organizations are generally non-profit organizations that can advise you on your money and debts, and help you with a budget. Some may also help you negotiate with creditors. There are specific questions to ask to help you find a credit counselling organization to work with.
Warning: If you’re considering working with a debt settlement company to address your debts, be skeptical of any company that promises to do it for an upfront fee.
[The preceding advice are drawn largely on information published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Learn more at consumerfinance.gov ]
Finally, in emergencies and unfamiliar circumstances, we all feel stressed and experience uncertainty. It makes us all vulnerable. We become targets for ‘scammers’.
Be cautious of anything that seems ‘too good to be true’. It probably is!
Currently, the commonest scams relate to finance and Coronavirus. Don’t be persuaded, and certainly pay for NOTHING in advance. We hope that this information would help you to manage credit card payments during Coronavirus pandemic.
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