We have compiled a list of ways to help maximize your available cash and credit during this time and prepare for emergency expenses. Tactics to consider stabilizing your near-term needs include:
- Ask your card issuer, bank or lender about temporary relief. One of the most effective moves you can make is to call the customer service number on the back of their credit cards to ask about flexibility options during the coronavirus outbreak. Some companies have already made related announcements and set up specific pages on their website related to their COVID-19 response, and we have compiled a full list that we are keeping updated here.
- Reprioritize your bill payments. If you cannot afford to pay all of your bills at this time, there are many companies that are coming together to provide support with late-payment forgiveness. Most utility companies and cable and internet companies have made pledges to waive late fees and suspend service disconnections during this time. Many Internet Service providers are also opening up their hotspots for Americans that need them and to ensure as many people as possible are connected. We have compiled a full list of the utility companies and telecommunications companies offering relief here.
- Request to increase your credit limit for existing cards. Increasing your credit lines can help provide a buffer for necessary purchases, especially for consumers that no longer have a reliable income due to the coronavirus-related business closures. All it takes is a phone call to the number on the back of your credit card to see what they can do. A greater credit line could also help improve your credit score. However, it is important to still make sure you are budgeting appropriately so that you do not end up further in debt. Many credit card issuers have also announced emergency support, including credit line increases and heightened fraud security.
- Apply for an “emergency credit” card. Applying for a 0% APR credit card can help provide an interest-free buffer for emergencies. This can also help improve your credit score by increasing your account mix and helping your credit usage. Similar to increasing your credit limit, this should be done in conjunction with a strict budget to ensure you are not accumulating more debt since you will need to pay it off eventually.
- Use Mobile Banking. Many banks have closed their branches, and leveraging mobile banking is a productive way to access your funds and all of your banking services without needing to put your health or the health of others at risk.
We’re hopeful that this information can help stabilize your finances during this time. Please let us know if you have any comments below. In the meantime, Credit Sesame can be a free valuable resource to help you monitor your finances during these uncertain times. And most importantly, please stay safe and healthy.