The COVID-19 pandemic has made keeping up with monthly bill payments challenging for many Americans. In an effort to provide some financial relief, a number of credit card companies have introduced policies to offer temporary help. If you have credit card debt and you're struggling to manage your payments during the coronavirus crisis, this guide breaks down what's available from the 10 top card issuers.

Key Takeaways

  • Many credit card companies and banks are offering temporary financial relief to borrowers who are experiencing financial hardship because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Managing your credit card payments is important for protecting your credit score and avoiding negative reporting to the credit bureaus.
  • Credit card relief isn't automatic; you'll need to reach out to your card issuer to determine which options are available and what you qualify for.

Major Credit Card Issuers Offer a Variety of COVID-19 Relief Options

Credit card companies can use their own discretion when deciding what financial relief, if any, to offer cardholders who are experiencing financial difficulties. Help can take different forms from one issuer to the next, so it's important to follow up with all of your credit card companies if you're having trouble making payments because of the coronavirus pandemic. This table sums up some of our findings (blank spaces mean the information was unavailable):

COVID-19 Credit Card Relief: Top 10 Card Issuers
Card Issuer Temporary Suspension of Payments Fee Waivers Temporary Credit Limit Increases
American Express No, but payments can be reduced Yes  
Bank of America Yes No, but late fees can be refunded  
Barclays Yes Yes Yes, on a case-by-case basis
Capital One Contact Capital One for options Contact Capital One for options Contact Capital One for options
Chase Yes Yes  
Citi Yes Yes Yes
Discover Contact Discover for options Contact Discover for options Contact Discover for options
HSBC Yes Yes  
U.S. Bank Yes Yes  
Wells Fargo Yes Yes  

American Express

American Express offers a financial relief program designed to help make payments more manageable. Your monthly payments and your regular variable APR can be temporarily reduced. Late payment fees and annual card membership fees can be waived while you're enrolled in the program. Note that your credit limit may be temporarily reduced while you're enrolled in the program. This could negatively affect your credit score if you're carrying a balance.

How to Get Help

  • Call 1-866-703-4169 (be prepared for longer wait times)
  • Log into your online account to discuss options via live chat

Bank of America

Bank of America's client assistance program is designed to help customers who are having trouble making credit card payments. Relief options include deferral for personal and business credit card payments and refunds for late fees you may have been charged if you missed a due date. If your account is up to date at the time you defer payments, no negative information will be reported to the credit bureaus.

How to Get Help

  • Request payment deferral through the program online
  • Call the customer service number on the back of your card

Tip

Ask your credit card company how payments will be reported if you're making a reduced payment or no payment at all during a forbearance period. If putting payments in forbearance will have a negative impact your credit score, that can detract from the program's benefits.

Barclays

Barclays has introduced a number of measures to help its banking and credit card customers navigate COVID-19's financial impacts. Some of the options you may be eligible for include skipping a monthly payment, having certain credit card fees waived, and receiving a temporary credit line increase.

How to Get Help

  • Request payment relief when you log in to your account online
  • Call the customer service number on the back of your card

Capital One

Capital One doesn't offer a lot of detail online about what coronavirus relief options are available to its credit card customers. Logging into your online account won't yield any additional information, either. Instead, you'll need to call Capital One's credit card customer service to find out what options you may have. Capital One is currently offering relief on a case-by-case basis, with options tailored to fit each cardholder's financial situation.

How to Get Help

  • Call customer service at 1-800-227-4825 (be prepared for longer wait times)

Chase

Chase is allowing cardholders who have been affected financially by COVID-19 to delay making payments for up to three months. That includes both personal and business credit cards issued by Chase. You can also delay payments on a Chase mortgage or auto loan.

How to Get Help

  • Enroll online (the fastest option, according to Chase)
  • Log into your account to send a secure message
  • Call the number on the back of your card

Citi

If you have a Citi credit card you may be eligible to put your payments in forbearance temporarily. Forbearance means you don't have to make payments for a time, but interest and/or fees may still accrue.

How to Get Help

  • Log into your account to request payment assistance
  • Text "App" to 692-484 to sign up through the Citi mobile app
  • Call the customer service number on the back of your card

Warning

If interest and/or fees continue to accrue during a deferment or forbearance period, you could end up with a larger credit card balance to pay off when your temporary suspension of payments ends.

Discover

Discover doesn't offer specific information about coronavirus relief options for credit cardholders through its website or through online account access. While it's possible to have payments reduced or deferred and have certain fees waived, eligibility is determined case-by-case. You'll need to contact Discover to find out what relief, if any, you might qualify for.

How to Get Help

  • Call 1-800-497-2816 (be prepared for longer wait times)
  • Send a message to customer service through your online account access

HSBC

HSBC has a credit card relief program for people who are experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19. Some of the possible solutions offered include deferring or reducing payments for eligible cardholders, fee waivers, and no change to the reporting of your account status. Interest can continue accruing on your balance during this time.

How to Get Help

  • Log on to your online account and send a secure message (the fastest option, according to HSBC)
  • Call 1-866-949-2351

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank doesn't specify on its website what options there are for people who need COVID-19 credit card relief. Instead, the bank encourages customers to reach out directly to discuss whether fee waivers or deferring payments may be a good solution, based on their circumstances.

How to Get Help

  • Call the number on the back of your card
  • Log into your account to send a secure message

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo was one of the first banks to discuss coronavirus relief options for credit card customers. Options include deferring payments and getting certain fees waived, though what you'll qualify for is based on your account status and history as well as your financial situation.

How to Get Help

  • Call the number on the back of your card
  • Log into your online account to send a secure message

Contact Your Credit Card Company for More Options

This guide covers 10 of the largest credit card companies, but it's not an exhaustive list. And bear in mind that credit card companies and banks may revise their COVID-19 policies at any time. If your credit card company wasn't included here, reach out to your card issuer to find out what type of COVID-19 financial relief might be available. Having your payments reduced or suspended, reducing your APR, or getting fees waived can all help make your credit card debt more manageable during difficult financial times.