Here's how banks and credit card companies are helping during the coronavirus outbreak

From individual credit card issuers to major US banking institutions, here's what you can expect for credit card and banking relief.

Dori Zinn Contributing Writer
Dori Zinn loves helping people learn and understand money. She's been covering personal finance for a decade and her writing has appeared in Wirecutter, Credit Karma, Huffington Post and more.
Dori Zinn
4 min read

Credit card issuers such as American Express are accommodating financial needs during the coronavirus outbreak.

American Express

The coronavirus isn't just a minor inconvenience for some. Its growing impact is causing financial hardship for millions of people. 

With businesses closing, layoffs and unpaid leave could mean you're unable to afford your regular bills. During this time, many US banks and credit card companies are offering temporary relief and assistance so you don't fall behind on payments. And if you're unable to stay current, there are programs in place to make sure you don't face unnecessary fees, a credit score drop or other penalties for late or missed payments.

Read more: How to defer paying taxes until June 15


Ally customers won't get charged overdraft fees, excessive transaction fees or fees for expedited checks and debit cards. Fee waivers are in place until at least July 16. If you have questions, comments or concerns, Ally is encouraging customers to use its website, since call wait times will likely be longer than normal.

American Express

Call the number on the back of your Amex card or log in to your American Express account to chat with a representative about your financial hardship. American Express is working with customers individually to provide specific help based on your needs. Contact the company if you need help with:

  • Temporarily lowering your interest rate
  • Avoiding past-due payments and charges
  • Removing late payment fees
  • Lowering your monthly payment

Apple Card

According to a Goldman Sachs representative, Apple Card users can contact support to enroll in Apple's Customer Assistance program. This will automatically let you skip your March credit card payment without being charged interest.

You can request enrollment through your Wallet App on your iPhone or online.

Bank of America

If you're a Bank of America customer, you can contact it directly about your individual issue. Bank of America is working with customers on a case-by-case basis to determine the right course of action based on your individual circumstances.

If you're a Bank of America customer with financial hardship, contact them to inquire about:

  • Eliminating fees, like monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, late payment fees, minimum balance fees and others
  • Waiving interest charges if you carry a balance from month to month
  • Increasing your credit card limit so you can buy necessities without maxing out your card

If you've already seen charges and fees removed, call to see if you can get them refunded.

Try to contact Bank of America online or over the phone, rather than visiting a physical branch, to ask about your financial hardship.

Capital One

Like other banks, Capital One encourages customers to contact it directly if you're facing a financial hardship. Ask it about lowering or eliminating fees, deferring payments and lowering the interest rate.


Contact Chase by calling the number on the back of your card or log in to your account. Inquire about fee waivers or refunds, increasing your credit limit or changing your due date. 


For Citibank customers, you can expect help with:

  • Waived fees for early CD withdrawal
  • Monthly service fee waivers
  • A credit line increase
  • Forbearance programs in case you can't make minimum payments when they're due
  • Other hardship assistance programs

Assistance is available for at least 30 days starting from March 9.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo encourages customers to reach out for assistance based on their individual needs. You can ask about:

  • Fee waivers, like late payments, overdraft and minimum balance fees
  • Payment deferrals in case you can't make your payment this month and don't want to face extra charges
  • Increasing your credit card limit

Avoid visiting a Wells Fargo branch and instead contact customer support by calling the number on the back of your card.

Alternatives to hardship programs

While contacting your bank or credit card issuer should be your first stop in finding financial hardship assistance, it's not your only option. Your issuer can help you determine what you qualify for, whether through them or other means, like:

  • 0% APR balance transfer credit cards: Apply for a card with a 0% introductory APR so you can avoid interest charges during this difficult time.
  • Dip into your emergency fund: The worldwide impact of the coronavirus is an emergency for everyone. If you have spare cash, now is the time to dip into it. Use it for the most important reasons, like paying for food or medication for you or your family. If you have enough to make payments on your bills, then do so. But see if you qualify for hardship assistance first.
  • Take out a personal loan: While not everyone might qualify for a personal loan, dire situations like COVID-19 are reason enough to take one out. Personal loans usually have lower interest rates compared to credit cards and many private lenders offer their own hardship assistance. For example, SoFi offers unemployment protection where your loan will go into forbearance. Payoff also offers hardship assistance.
  • Community assistance: Many state and local agencies are providing financial relief to the most vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19. Try searching for programs that are available in your area to see what you qualify for. For example, call 2-1-1 where you live and you'll get matched up with resources based on your needs, like help paying bills or money for groceries. 
Watch this: Great online education and distance learning services for kids stuck at home

Coronavirus: Scenes from an eerily empty San Francisco

See all photos