Discover COVID-19 Credit Card Relief, Explained

Here's what Discover is offering, how to ask for it and what to keep in mind about the assistance.

Claire TsosieMay 14, 2020
Discover COVID-19 Credit Card Relief, Explained

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Discover is one of several major issuers offering short-term credit card payment assistance to its cardholders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Terms vary, though, and aren't publicly available. To request relief, you'll have to call the issuer's customer service line or message the issuer through your account.

What relief can I get?

"Qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of the COVID-19 [virus] may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments," Discover tells NerdWallet via email. Relief may include what the issuer calls "skip-a-pay payments," which are the same as deferred payments; these allow qualified cardholders to miss payments for a time without negatively impacting their credit.

The issuer hasn't disclosed specific terms for assistance but confirms that it varies by customer. For reference, other major issuers have offered deferred payments and waived late fees to qualified cardholders for two or three billing cycles.

Discover says cardholders can learn more about payment relief options available to them by calling customer service or sending a message through their account on desktop or via the issuer’s mobile app.

When you request assistance, you'll be notified of your eligibility for benefits immediately, the issuer notes. There's no waiting period for approval.

Will interest continue to accrue when payments are deferred?

Yes, the issuer confirms interest will continue to accrue.

How do I request relief?

You can request assistance by calling or messaging Discover. You can reach customer service at 800-497-2816. If COVID-19 has affected your ability to pay, say so on the call.

You can also message Discover through your account online or on the mobile app. Here's how to do that on the app:

  1. Log into the Discover app. Select your card.

  2. Select "More" on the bottom rail and click "Contact Us."

  3. Select "Messaging" and send a message. You'll be connected directly with a customer service representative.

Here's how to message Discover on desktop:

  1. Log into your Discover account. Select your card.

  2. Select "Help" on the top rail.

  3. Under "Contact Us," click "Message an Agent." Send a message. You'll be connected directly with a customer service representative.

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Will this void my 0% APR period?

No. Discover confirms to NerdWallet that participating in the payment assistance program will not void cardholders' 0% annual percentage rate periods if they have them.

Will this lower my limit?

"Credit tightening may occur for new customers," Discover tells NerdWallet. "We will not reduce an existing cardholder's credit limit for participating in any of our payment assistance programs."

Will I still be able to make purchases?

"At the moment, participating in a COVID-19 related payment assistance program will not affect cardholders’ ability to make purchases," Discover tells NerdWallet. (This information is current as of May 6, 2020.)

Will this hurt my credit?

The issuer confirms that taking advantage of these skip-a-pay payments, if you qualify for them, won’t hurt your credit.

"Skip-a-pay payments allow a customer to miss a payment without negative impact on the account," Discover tells NerdWallet.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act outlines some credit protection for cardholders, as well. Payment accommodations for those affected by COVID-19 during a certain time must be reported as current if the account was current previously. If the account was delinquent previously, it can continue being reported as delinquent during the accommodation period unless the cardholder brings it current.

Will my autopay preferences get updated automatically?

Yes. Discover says DirectPay — the issuer's name for its autopay program — will be canceled when the cardholder applies for skip-a-pay payments. However, scheduled payments that are already in progress will still be processed, the issuer notes.

You can confirm the status of your preferences on desktop or on Discover's mobile app. Here's how to check on mobile:

  1. Log into the Discover app. Select your card.

  2. Click "Payments" on the bottom rail, then click "Automatic Payments."

  3. View your DirectPay status. Make changes as needed. You can also click "Pending Payments" on the left rail to see payments that are already being processed.

Here's how to do it on desktop:

  1. Log into your Discover account. Select your card.

  2. Select "Activity & Payments" on the top rail and click "Automatic Payments."

  3. View your DirectPay status. Make changes as needed. You can also click "Pending Payments" on the left rail to see payments that are already being processed.

Will I still get statements?

Yes, Discover confirms that cardholders participating in the payment assistance program will continue to get statements.

Whom should I contact for more help?

For more help, call Discover's customer service line at 800-497-2816 or message the issuer via your account on desktop or on the mobile app.

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