As businesses and government leaders take action to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus, some workers are already taking a financial hit.
“Get out in front of it,” said Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for BankRate.com.
According to McBride, banks already have programs in place to help consumers. They are the types of relief programs you may see during hurricanes or other natural disasters, but the key is to reach out early.
“You have a lot more options to work with if you’re proactive and let them know now as opposed to say, they gotta track you down two months from now when you haven’t made a payment in more than 60 days,” McBride said.
Fannie Mae said it will suspend foreclosure sales and evictions for 60 days, adding that homeowners are eligible for a forbearance plan to reduce or suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months. Freddie Mac announced a similar plan.
Ally Bank, an online financial institution, told its customers in an email this week they may be able to defer payments for their car loans or mortgages for up to 120 days. The online bank also suspended fees for overdrafts, excessive transactions for savings and money market accounts and expedited shipping of checks and debit cards, a move several other banks are also taking.
“Those types of things are really going to become standard fare,” McBride said. “The suspension of late fees, not reporting people to the credit bureaus if they have to stop making payments for a while.”
Some credit card companies have also announced options that could help consumers.
“The ability to skip a payment for a month or two, the ability to not have fees being added on,” he said. “Even stopping the clock on interest accrual for a period of time.”
If you haven’t already done so, check your email. Chances are you’ve already received communication from banks and credit card companies you do business with, detailing what they might be willing to do for you if you run into financial difficulty because of the coronavirus.
While many banks are temporarily closing their local branches, experts say your money is still safe. In fact, they recommend having two savings accounts and keeping about $1,500 in one linked to your checking and the rest in a high-yield savings account.
If you want to read more about what you should do with your savings during the coronavirus outbreak, click here.