If you’ve been financially impacted by coronavirus (and who hasn’t at this point), you can get some much needed help with your bills. With such high unemployment rates across the U.S., it’s nice to see large businesses like credit card companies and mortgage lenders giving people a break when they need it most.
If you’re having a hard time paying your bills, my best advice is to reach out and ask companies if they have a payment program or other form of relief available. The last thing anyone needs is to stress out right now, when we should be able to focus on staying healthy and feeding our families.
Here are eight bills you can pause:
1. Pause those sneaky memberships and subscriptions.
One of the easiest ways to save money is to cancel any unnecessary memberships or subscriptions, especially if they don’t charge you to re-join later. But I get it, it’s hard to remember all of them when it seems like everything is on a monthly subscription model. Trust me, these little guys really start to add up.
Scan your last three months’ worth of bank statements, PayPal accounts, and Amazon accounts to see if you missed anything. I saw a Cinemax subscription on my Amazon account that I signed up for in order to watch a movie and forgot to immediately cancel. I was able to catch it before I got billed. Phew!
Some, like gym memberships, should have been automatically frozen by the fitness center and/or refunded to you.
Other companies such as AT&T will offer credits for payments you already made for canceled sports and streaming services like MLB Extra Innings and MLS Direct Kick subscribers.
AMC automatically paused all AMC Stubs A-List member accounts while their theaters are closed.
If you have a Six-Flags membership or any other theme park membership, visit their website to request your membership be paused or extended for the months the park was closed.
Tip: Don’t forget parking permits, national park permits, fishing permits, etc.
2. Internet and wireless providers are waiving late fees and service termination.
If you can’t pay your cell bill because you’re experiencing hardship due to COVID-19, contact your wireless provider. Phone and internet providers are supposed to waive fees, and some are going a step further by offering freebies during the coronavirus outbreak. For example, healthcare workers may qualify for three months of free phone service, thanks to AT&T.
RELATED: Ways to Get Cheap Home Internet
3. Utility companies are helping you keep the lights on.
It’s safe to guess that your local utility company is halting disconnections right now. All of the energy companies we’ve listed here aren’t disconnecting people, and many regional regulators are making extra sure they don’t.
If your energy company isn’t waiving late fees, chances are they’re being flexible with payments. Dominion Energy is going a step farther by reconnecting previously disconnected customers for free.
4. Banks and credit card companies offer a variety of solutions.
Millions of Americans are struggling to pay their bills and need some help, especially with credit card debt relief. Fortunately, many banks and credit card lenders are offering some form of assistance that won’t affect your credit score negatively.
If you’re in the position where you can’t make a payment, contact your lender or bank immediately. They may be able to delay or lower your payment.
5. Seek a temporary mortgage forbearance.
In response to the financial burdens many homeowners and renters are facing due to the COVID-19 outbreak, states and cities issued executive orders that prevent eviction for both homeowners and renters. However, if you can’t pay your rent or mortgage, you have to contact your lender to find out what they can do for you.
Good news: the law is on your side. Under the provisions of the CARES Act, if you’re experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 and have a federally backed (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac) home mortgage, you can request a forbearance period (time in which you pause payments) for up to 180 days by contacting your mortgage servicer.
- Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- Fannie Mae
- Freddie Mac
After 180 days, you can apply for a 180-day extension. Although no penalties or fees will be added to your account, regular interest will still accrue.
Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a repayment plan to spread out the missed payments by your forbearance or loan modification.
6. Contact your car loan lender for deferred payment options.
While some car manufacturers are offering low prices and incentives along with financing/leasing and payment options for new car buyers, some, like Hyundai, are permitting current eligible car owners to defer their car payments for three months.
Your lender may also be willing to provide you payment relief if you’re unemployed or having a hard time paying your car loan/lease. A few banks that offer their current customers payment deferment or other payment assistance:
7. Car insurance companies offer temporary billing and payment solutions.
Some major (and minor) car insurance companies have provided a partial refund of premiums for their customers over the last few months; others are extending their grace periods and halting policy cancellations. If you can’t afford your insurance, contact your agent or insurance company as soon as possible for available options.
8. Federal student loans (and interest) automatically suspended until September 20.
As part of the $2 trillion stimulus package approved by Congress, federal student loan payments and interest are suspended for six months and ends on September 20, 2020. But, like everything government, this thing is complicated. Here’s how to take advantage of suspended student loans.
If your loan isn’t owned by the federal government, your bank might have a relief program of its own (many are receiving government bailouts, so they are passing help on to customers). So, please call if you haven’t heard from them since the stimulus package was passed.
Don’t Scroll Up! Here are the articles I mentioned:
How to Get a Refund for Gym Membership Fees
Ways to Get Cheap Home Internet
Banks, Telecom, and Utility Companies Offering Payment Assistance
Bargain Car Prices: Is It a Good Time to Buy a Car?
Car Insurance Refunds Are Coming Soon
Coronavirus Credit Card Debt Relief: What You Need to Know
Federal Student Loan Payments Suspended for Six Months (and Interest, too)