When you’re faced with a sudden disruption in your income – something millions of people are experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic – credit cards often become a necessity for survival.
When plastic is your only option make sure you investigate if and how your credit card company is offering some leniency to those in a financial crisis. Such support could include flexible bill payments and waived late fees. Your options will vary based on the credit card company and your history as a customer.
Many card issuers do offer forbearance programs, which act as temporary relief during financial hardships. While each forbearance program is different, you can typically expect to receive assistance with monthly payments and possibly lowered interest. If you do go this route, your account may continue to accrue interest, but the lender won’t report the late payments to the credit bureaus. Which means there won’t be a negative effect to your credit score.
Keep in mind that you have to opt-in to a forbearance program. If you simply skip payments without speaking to your card issuer, your credit score will be affected.
Another option to help protect your credit score is to request that your lender includes a statement on your account that indicates you have been affected by a natural or declared disaster. Experian has stated this can help protect your credit history and scores.
If you need help during this time, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.