COVID-19: Loan Options and Payment Relief

Lenders are offering low-rate, small-dollar loans and options to defer payments in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Annie MillerberndAugust 20, 2020
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The COVID-19 crisis is sparing almost no one when it comes to finances. As $600 weekly unemployment checks expire and unemployment spikes, consumers may turn to loans to make ends meet. If you already have a personal loan, you may need help making your payments.

While some personal loan lenders have tightened approval requirements, others have introduced low-rate, small-dollar loans to consumers dealing with financial hardships. Lenders that previously had catchall hardship plans in place for customers affected by COVID-19 have switched to a more case-by-case approach, while some have expanded and specified available loan modifications.

NerdWallet's Guide to COVID-19

Learn about your options to manage debt, how government aid works and what you can do to prepare.

If you need to borrow money

U.S. Bank changed its loan offerings earlier in the pandemic to accommodate customers in need. The bank's product pages now reflect the usual rates and terms on both its personal and Simple loans.

Capital Good Fund

Capital Good Fund is offering a Crisis Relief Loan to consumers in the five states where it operates: Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. These small-dollar loans have a low APR and deferred payments for the first three months.

Loan amount: $300 to $1,500.

APR: 5% for all approved borrowers.

Term: 15 months, with payments due starting after the first three months. Payments can be further deferred if the COVID-19 crisis continues beyond that. Interest will accrue during the 90-day deferment period, says CEO Andy Posner.

The lender prioritizes banking history in its underwriting process. Instead of using a borrower’s current income and expenses, Posner says Capital Good Fund will try to understand if an applicant can afford the loan on current income, and if not, the lender will consider whether the borrower could have afforded the loan before the crisis.

The loans have no application, closing or prepayment fees and require no collateral. Borrowers can expect a decision two days after submitting an application, and Posner says applications for the Crisis Relief Loan will be prioritized over other applications.

Salary Finance

Salary Finance provides loans through employers and partnered with Equifax to give companies insight into employees' financial health. The partnership was in the works before the COVID-19 crisis began, says Salary Finance CEO Dan Macklin, and its offering isn't contingent on the pandemic's influence on the economy.

Through the partnership, employers get a view of anonymized worker credit information, says Salary Finance CEO Dan Macklin. Companies can use the data for free to spot which groups are experiencing the most financial stress and address it.

Salary Finance is typically offered through human resource departments as a benefit for employees, Macklin says. Payments made on Salary Finance loans are reported to all three credit bureaus.

Loan amount: $1,000 to $5,000, up to 20% of an employee's salary.

APR: 5.9% to 19.9%

Term: 6 to 36 months.

Other borrowing options

Credit unions: These not-for-profit institutions offer some of the most consumer-friendly loans. A credit union loan often comes with a lower APR and more flexible terms than one from a bank or online lender.

Fair- and bad-credit borrowers (629 or lower FICO) may have a better chance of getting approval from a credit union because the underwriting processes tend to more than credit information.

Some credit unions also offer payday alternative loans, which are safer than high-interest, short-term payday loans. These loans have a maximum APR of 28%.

Online lenders: Online lenders can be fast options for emergency loans. You’ll likely need good credit and a steady income to qualify in today’s climate. If you’re not sure whether you would qualify or what rate you’d get, you can pre-qualify for an online loan with NerdWallet. It won’t have an impact on your credit score.

If you’re concerned about making payments

Some lenders are offering help, like deferred payments and waived late fees, for consumers facing hardships. If you need help but don’t see your lender listed here, check other options for financial assistance.

Some lenders’ phone lines may be overwhelmed, so try email or chat, when possible.

Best Egg

Best Egg encourages borrowers to log in to their account to see what options may be available.

The lender previously offered a temporary payment holiday that extended payments by two months, during which interest would accrue. A company spokesperson has not responded to inquiries about the latest loan modifications available.

Contact Best Egg at [email protected] to explain your hardship.

Discover

Discover customers whose finances have been affected by COVID-19 can enroll in a single-month Skip-a-Payment program. During that time, interest will not accrue on the loan, according to a Discover spokesman.

Customers who need assistance for more than one month can call 877-256-2632 or use the company’s mobile app to reach a Discover agent.

HSBC

HSBC Bank is offering to defer personal loan payments and waive late fees for 180 days from the time you enroll in the company's hardship program. The bank will continue to charge interest on deferred loan payments and report your account status to credit bureaus as it was before you enrolled.

At the end of the 180 days, borrowers can make a lump-sum payment to cover deferred payments or agree to a new, extended repayment term.

You can log in to learn about your options, or call the bank at 866-949-2351.

LendingClub

LendingClub is allowing borrowers affected by COVID-19 to defer payments and pay only interest during deferral, according to a spokeswoman.

The lender posts updates to its information page and has a line set up for hardship inquiries: 877-644-4446. The company says it takes up to 10 days to process hardship applications.

In May, LendingClub launched a resource for existing personal loan customers called Member Center, according to a news release. In addition to payment options that help borrowers get back to their regular payment schedule, the Member Center has a tool that helps customers manage their money and improve their credit. The tool, called Credit Profile, gives members a full view of their financial lives, including information like their debt-to-income ratio, credit utilization and credit score.

A company spokeswoman says the tool will remain available to customers after COVID-19 crisis dissipates.

LightStream

LightStream is allowing borrowers to defer loan payments, but you can only defer a payment once, according to the company's COVID-19 response page. The option isn't available if the account is 90 days past due or within two days of a scheduled automatic payment. The payment is reported to credit bureaus as a deferment affected by natural disaster and won't negatively affect your credit score, the company says.

Deferred payments are tacked on to the end of your loan, and interest will accrue while payments are deferred.

Borrowers can log in and visit the Account Services page to request a deferment, or email [email protected] with questions.

OneMain

OneMain offered to waive late fees on payments between March 15 and April 30. The company halted credit reporting on late or missed payments between March 1 and April 30, according to its COVID-19 resource page. The company has since removed the deferral offering from its page.

Oportun

Oportun can offer customers reduced payments and deferrals. The company says it won't report skipped payments as late to the credit bureaus if you make arrangements beforehand. Customers can reach the company via email at [email protected] or at 650-419-5779.

OppLoans

OppLoans is offering 30 days of missed payments with "no questions asked," for those who have been affected by COVID-19, says CEO Jared Kaplan. After that, customers can apply for a 90-day hardship program that will cut their payments in half. He says those accommodations won't negatively affect credit scores.

PenFed

PenFed had previously said it would allow customers who are not paid 30 days ahead or more than 30 days delinquent to skip a single payment because of COVID-19. The company has since removed that option from its COVID-19 response page and taken down its hardship application form.

PenFed has a hardship center, where customers can apply for a temporary hardship program (less than six months) or a permanent hardship program (more than six months).

PNC

PNC says it can offer solutions to loan customers who are just now experiencing a hardship or whose hardship plans are about to expire. Customers must enroll in online banking to access the online hardship request form.

Customers can log in to see if their product is eligible for deferment or call 1-800-247-5626.

Possible Finance

Possible Finance has a forbearance plan that will allow customers to push payments out. The company hasn't released much information on the plan since it published a blog post in March, but customers can still reach the company via its general request form.

Upstart

Upstart has loan modification options available to some customers affected by COVID-19, including an extended loan term or forbearance, according to an upstart spokesperson. Previously, customers could defer up to two months of payments without interest or penalties.

Contact Upstart by emailing [email protected]

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo will defer monthly payments for three consecutive billing cycles for eligible personal loan customers. Those who have already received assistance can still apply for more. Log in to your online account to see your options.

To reach a Wells Fargo customer service representative, call 877-269-6056.

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