Are you finding it increasingly difficult to make your credit card payments on time as the coronavirus pandemic has indirectly caused your income to take a hit or caused you to lose your job so suddenly due to the rapidly slowing economy?
Before you go into despair mode, blaming yourself for the lack of a sizable emergency fund, take heart that your credit card issuer has in place temporary relief measures to help cardholders facing financial hardship.
But of course, your credit card issuer can only help you if you reach out to them, explain your situation honestly, and check with them what options are actually available to you. Here are some things you need to know about forbearance:
1. The help you could potentially receive from a credit card forbearance program is temporary
While some relief can come in really handy during a particularly difficult period of time when one is facing financial hardship, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, always keep in mind any assistance extended to you or a loved one is temporary.
2. Each credit card issuer has its own forbearance program
In general, a forbearance program helps to temporarily relieve some financial obligations on your credit card. Credit card issuers have their own specific forbearance program and each customer's situation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Your credit card issuer could waive fees on your account temporarily, offer payment extensions, lower your interest rates temporarily, extend your credit line for a limited time, lower your minimum payment monthly payments etc.
3. Avoid getting your credit limit increased
While having an extended credit line for the short-term may sound like an easy way out for you to get on with life (think: put food on the table, pay your utility bills, ensure your car has gas etc), it is not a great idea if you aren't one to be financially disciplined. The tendency to overspend is there, since you can charge more to your credit card with an increased credit limit.
A snowballing credit card debt will only make it harder for you to get out of debt. If you are already struggling to pay off your credit card debt without any temporary relief extended to you by your credit card issuer, what makes you think having an ever bigger debt is going to make life easier for you going forward?
4. You are still required to clear your credit card debt
If you seek help from your credit card issuer hoping your debt will be written off someday, you need to be more realistic because that is not going to happen, ever. As much as it sucks to know, forbearance is not equivalent to credit forgiveness.
Your credit card issuer extends help to you so you can enjoy some short-term relief when the going gets extra tough, but keep in mind your credit card issuer is not running a charity - it isn't going to forget or waive your debt! Sure, you may have some fees and interest payment amounts reduced for the time being, but you are still required to repay your credit card debt.