Banks’ Rx For Coronavirus-Induced Financial Woes

From reports of death tolls to stories detailing shortages of ventilators and other life-saving equipment, almost all the news about the COVID-19 pandemic has been negative. However, there has been some good news, including news about what banks are doing to ease financial woes in the wake of the scourge.

Banks’ Rx For Coronavirus-Induced Financial Woes

Some state governments are pushing banks in this direction. For example, on March 24, New York State’s Department of Financial Services issued a new emergency regulation mandating that New York-regulated financial institutions provide financial relief to residents who are experiencing financial hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic. An emergency regulation adopted pursuant to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order No. 202.9 requests that banks eliminate ATM fees, overdraft fees, and credit card late payment fees. Regulated institutions are, under the umbrella of the guidance, also “encouraged, consistent with safe and sound banking practices,” to help persons with a demonstrated COVID-19-related financial hardship “in any additional manner they deem appropriate.”

As for the activities of individual banks, Ally is waiving all fees related to expedited checks and debit cards, overdrafts and waiving excessive transactions on money market and savings accounts until July 18, 2020. It is also deferring auto loan payments for up to 120 days and allowing home loan payments for existing customers to be delayed for as many as 120 days without late fees. Bank of America customers who need assistance in making credit card or mortgage payments can now apply for a payment deferral online; additional assistance is being offered to clients and small businesses. Requests for refunds of overdraft, insufficient funds, and monthly maintenance fees are being processed on a case-by-case basis, as are requests to defer payments and refunds of late fees on small business loans. Bank of America customers with auto loans, personal loans, mortgages, and home equity loans can ask that their payments be deferred; such payments will be added to the end of the loan repayment cycle.

For its part, BBVA USA has launched an online portal where consumers can apply for deferrals or extensions of payments on real estate loans, personal loans, small business loans, and credit card balances. Waivers of ATM fees, refunds of ATM fees charged by other banks/networks, penalty-free CD withdrawals for CDs opened prior to March 1, and refunds of overdraft fees are available on request.

Meanwhile, all Capital One customers are eligible for COVID-19-related assistance, depending on the type of product they have and their individual needs. Examples of assistance include minimum payment assistance, deferred loan assistance, and fee suppression. Chase is advising customers who are able to continue making their mortgage payments do so; those who need help with their mortgage payments can call (800) 848-9380 or sign into their online account and send a secure message.

Customers of CIT who hold mortgages with the institution and have been impacted by COVID-19 need not fear foreclosure and eviction; these have been suspended, and forbearance plans are available. On April 7, Citi once again extended pandemic-related assistance, to May 8, 2020. Such assistance includes waivers on safe deposit box fees, non-City ATM usage fees, and penalty fees for early CD withdrawals. Eligible Citi credit card holders have access to waivers on late fees and can be granted deferred minimum payments for up to two months. Cenlar, Citi’s mortgage sub-servicer, is providing 90-day forbearance for the bank’s mortgage loans and has put a 60-day hold on foreclosures and evictions.

Moreover, Fifth Third Bank has implemented policies to address COVID-19-related hardship as it pertains to auto loans, credit card balances, and real estate loans. A mortgage and home equity program offers payment forbearance for up to 180 days, with no late fees, while repossession of vehicles and foreclosure activity on homes are suspended for at least 60 days. HSBC Bank USA is providing, among other services, deferrals, reductions, and late fee waivers for individuals with mortgage and home equity loans.

Navy Federal Credit Union members can obtain deferments on credit card payments, auto loan payments, and personal loan payments; loan extensions are also available. Members can also request a credit card limit increase, apply for a Pandemic Relief Loan, or ask for mortgage loan forbearance. Eligible members can have their mortgage payments suspended for 90 days. PNC Bank is considering requests by customers for 90-day hardship postponement of payments on auto loans, unsecured installment loans or lines of credit, credit cards, mortgages, home equity loans or lines of credit, and student loans.

We at E-Complish applaud banks’ efforts to assist consumers at this difficult time. Check back here frequently for further updates on COVID-19-related and other topics. And stay safe and healthy. We’re in this together.