The coronavirus crisis has left millions of Americans suddenly out of work or with their hours slashed. For those faced with upcoming bill payment due dates, there's a little bit of extra hope coming from many lenders.
Auto Loan Anxiety
Topping the list: auto loans. the U.S. Federal Reserve says Americans collectively owe $1.2 trillion on their cars. Ally, one of the nation's largest lenders, says it's letting drivers defer car payments up to 120 days, with no late fees or finance charges.
If you just signed an Ally loan for a new car, they can delay your first payment for 90 days.
Please take note: Ally says you must call them to activate these offers. You can learn more at Ally's website.
That policy is true of every lender we contacted. Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst with Bankrate, recommends picking up the phone before you miss a payment.
"Monthly payments on car loans can easily run $500 or $600 a month, particularly on new cars," McBride said. "That takes a big bite out of the budget. If you're having an income crunch, get out in front of it. Contact your lender, and let them know your situation."
Credit Card Crunch
The Fed says Americans are carrying a $1 trillion combined balance on our credit cards. It's possible you'll be able to defer monthly payments and interest during the pandemic. Several banks and credit unions are offering assistance, such as fee waivers, no interest, and payment pauses.
Again, it's not automatic. You must call in to request help, and you should reach out before you fall too far behind.
If you prefer to speak with someone in person, you can. Banks are considered essential services, and may remain open. Be sure to check their hours; some have scaled back operations, and their branch hours might be shorter than usual.
Speaking with your lender early on might have an added benefit: the bank might be less eager to flag your credit report that you’ve fallen behind.
There's Mortgage Help, Too
As we reported previously, many mortgage lenders are offering forbearance, allowing borrowers to stay in their homes while temporarily pausing payments. Click here to learn more.