Money

How Banks and Lenders Are Helping Workers Affected by the Government Shutdown

Many federal workers aren't getting paid. Here’s how some banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions are helping them out.

by Funto Omojola
Jan 11 2019, 11:53pm

Protesters hold signs during a protest rally by government workers and concerned citizens against the government shutdown on Friday, January 11, 2019 at Post Office Square near the Federal building in Boston. Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP / Getty Images

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed their first paycheck on January 11 as the U.S government entered the fourth week of what has now become the longest shutdown in its history. All the while, the bills keep stacking up, from mortgage payments to credit card balances. Real estate site Zillow estimated that the 800,000 affected workers will owe $189 million in rent and another $249 million in mortgage payments this month.

As workers took to the streets to protest the shutdown, several banks, credit unions, and lenders have stepped up to offer financial support in the form of interest-free loans, extended payment dates, and waived fees. Most are doing so on a case-by-case basis, urging customers to contact them directly to discuss their options.

While the offers are welcome, be sure to get everything in writing so you don’t get stuck with an even bigger bill—or worse, a damaged credit score—later. “Even if your lender is willing to adjust your payment date, you may still be charged interest even though they say you don’t need to send in this month’s credit card payment. Keep up with your bills if at all possible,” says Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

FREE has compiled a list of banks, credit unions, and lenders that are helping federal workers during the shutdown. We’ll be updating the list as we learn of more offers.

Ally Bank

An Ally Financial spokesperson told FREE that customers impacted by the shutdown should contact the bank directly to discuss their individual options. A message on its site directs customers to chat, call or email them to do so.

American Express

An Amex spokesperson told FREE it's assisting consumer, small business, and corporate card members who are affected by the shutdown by waiving late fees, return check fees, and future interest charges. Customers can call to discuss their options.

Bank of America

Spokesperson Lawrence Grayson told FREE that BofA will be helping those affected with fee refunds and waivers, repayment plans, and loan modification on a “case-by-case basis.” A message on the BofA site invites customers to call or schedule an appointment with a specialist for personalized assistance.

Bank of the West

The bank posted a message on its website asking those impacted by the shutdown to call for assistance.

Capital One Bank

“We are here to assist our customers who are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the federal government shutdown,” a Capital One Bank spokesperson told FREE. “Assistance provided to our impacted customers could include temporarily waiving or refunding certain credit card fees, extending payment due dates on auto loans, and waiving or refunding overdraft, insufficient funds, and service fees on deposit accounts.”

Chase Bank

The bank will automatically waive the overdraft and monthly services fees for checking and savings accounts for those affected by the shutdown. “We’re also helping our mortgage, credit card and car loan customers, but they have to contact us because we generally don’t have the same level of up-to-date information as we do on checking customers,” a Chase spokesperson told FREE, via email. “We’re working on these one case at a time to do our best to protect customers from negative consequences for missing a payment, such as late fees or reporting a late payment to a credit bureau.”

Citi

Customers can get fee and interest adjustments. “With respect to mortgages, we may be able to offer short-term forbearance and repayment plans and/or loan modifications,” a Citi spokesperson told FREE, via email. The bank has also posted a message on their website advising customers affected to call for card, bank, and mortgage assistance.

Democracy Federal Credit Union

Members can get help with payment deferments as well as loan extensions for existing loan holders for up to 90 days. Current and potential customers can also apply for a short-term loan for up to six months. Contact the credit union for specific options and for free financial counseling services.

Discover

Credit card and bank customers are eligible for several forms of assistance, including skipping a payment and having late fees and interest charges reversed if they do. Discover is working with customers on a case-by-case basis, according to a spokesperson. Customers can chat with or call a representative for assistance.

First Command Financial Services

The financial company, which caters to military members and offers insurance, banking, and financial advisors, is issuing zero-interest payroll advances, offering loan assistance, penalty-free early withdrawal, and waiving cash advance fees to affected Coast Guard and federal employee clients, Scott Spiker, Chairman and CEO of First Command Financial Services, said in an email statement to FREE. Call or send a secure message for assistance.

Ford Motor Credit

A banner on the auto lender’s site encourages customers who have had a loss of income to call for payment deferral options.

General Motors Financial

GM has a message on its site asking government employees that are impacted to contact its Customer Experience team to discuss options regarding loan due dates.

Justice Federal Credit Union

This credit union is offering unsecured loans of up to $3,000 at 3.19 percent interest, loan deferment up to 30 days, and mortgage assistance to members who work at the Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security. Members can visit a branch (open Saturdays) or call for information.

Navy Federal Credit Union

One of the more generous lenders, this credit union is providing interest-free loans of up to $6,000 to federal government workers and active duty members of the Coast Guard who are also members of the credit union. You can apply for the Government Shutdown Loan Program online. Others who are affected can call to discuss their options.

PNC Bank

“PNC is prepared to waive monthly service fees and take other appropriate actions for government employees who are experiencing financial difficulty due to the shutdown,” Marcey Zwiebel Director, Corporate Public Relations PNC Bank, told FREE. The bank is advising customers to contact them for case-by-case assistance.

Quicken Loans

“We are waiving late fees for all clients that may be in jeopardy of missing a payment due to the government shutdown, as well as providing a free 30-day rate lock extension for any clients currently in the mortgage process,” the mortgage lender told FREE in an email statement. Customers can call for assistance.

SkyOne Federal Credit Union

The credit union, which caters to air transportation employees, is offering a Crisis Co-Pilot Relief Program that promises $5,000 interest-free loans at 0% APR for first 90 days of the loan term, according to its website. Customers can apply directly online and have their loans processed within two to three days.

TD Bank

Existing customers who are federal employees, contractors, or receive federal benefits can enroll in their Payment Assistance Program, according to a statement on the bank’s website. The program will provide access to additional funds at no cost, late fee refunds on most TD Bank Visa credit cards, mortgage, home equity, auto or personal loan assistance, and flexibility on small business loans or lines of credit. These benefits will extend until those impacted start to receive their regular government pay.

The U.S. Employees Credit Union

This credit union is offering 60-day, interest-free loans for federal government employees whose direct deposit pay will be affected by the shutdown, regardless of their credit score. “Loan amounts will be calculated by rounding your last bi-weekly direct deposit down to the nearest $100.00 increment. For example, if your last government pay was $3,479.41, your loan amount will be $3,400.00,” according to a statement on the credit union’s site, where members can apply directly.

Transportation Federal Credit Union

Transportation FCU, which primarily serves federal, state, and local government employees, is providing relief for members who are not receiving paychecks due to the shutdown by offering a 4.50% APR Furlough Loan with a minimum payment of $25. The credit union will also provide two weeks of net pay for up to $3,000 and the first payment deferred up to 45 days. Members who are impacted are also able to skip up to two months of payments on consumer loans and can call or apply online.

Treasury Department Federal Credit Union

This credit union is providing 30-day loan extensions for existing members in good standing. It's also lending both existing and prospective members their net pays for up to two pay periods. Apply directly online, at a local branch, or by calling.

USAA Federal Savings Bank

“In direct support of members, USAA is offering a one-time, low interest loan to active Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Corps, Public Health Service Corps personnel whose pay is disrupted,” USAA told FREE in a email statement. The lender is also providing all eligible members affected by the shutdown with a 60-day payment deferral on consumer loans, 90-day payment deferral on credit cards, and special payment arrangements on auto and home insurance premiums. Members can call for more details.

U.S. Bank

“We’re offering a new low-rate, quick loan product for U.S. Bank customers who are federal employees impacted by the government shutdown,” a spokesperson told Free. Customers with any U.S. Bank product, including mortgage and auto loans or U.S. Bank credit cards can apply for the $100 to $6,000 loans. A message on the bank’s website invites those affected by the shutdown to call about assistance programs.

Wells Fargo

The bank will automatically reverse monthly service, overdraft or non-sufficient fund fees, and suppress late fees on credit cards for employees affected by a federal government agency and whose payroll check was direct deposited into the customer’s account in November 2018, a spokesperson told FREE. Customers can call for assistance. The bank says it is also helping customers who do not have direct deposit or are not receiving an automatic fee reversal on an individual basis.

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Updated: This story was updated on Tuesday, January 15 with additional offers of financial assistance from lenders.