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9 in 10 Who Asked for Breaks on Mortgage, Card Payments Due to the Coronavirus Got One

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Some much-needed good news for folks whose financial lives have been flipped upside down by the coronavirus: According to a new survey from LendingTree, more than 90% of people who have asked their mortgage lender or credit card issuer for a break on their monthly bill have been successful.

However, far too few people have asked for assistance.

Key findings:

  • 91% of credit cardholders who asked their card issuer for a break on their monthly payment because of coronavirus-related circumstances got one. Of those who asked, 67% got a break on every card they asked about, and another 24% got a break on some of their cards. Just 9% didn’t get a break on any card.
  • 91% of homeowners who asked their mortgage lender for a reprieve from their monthly payment because of the outbreak were granted one.
  • Only 3 in 10 cardholders asked for a break on their card payment. About the same percentage of homeowners asked for a break on their mortgage payment.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 people who didn’t ask for help with their credit card or mortgage payments said they didn’t realize they had that option.
  • Men were far more likely than women to be successful when asking for a break and were more than twice as likely to ask.
  • Gen Xers had the highest success rate when asking for breaks on both mortgages and credit cards and were the most likely to ask for one on their card payment. Millennials were most likely to ask for mortgage payment help.

Good things come to those who ask …

Lenders have so-called hardship programs that kick in after natural disasters, and the coronavirus outbreak certainly fits that bill. These programs offer short-term help to victims of the disaster in the form of reduced interest rates, higher credit limits, waived fees or delayed reporting of late payments to credit bureaus, among other things.

These survey results are clear evidence that hardship programs are in play today. More than 9 in 10 credit card holders who asked their issuer for a break on their monthly payment because of the outbreak got one. That includes 67% who got help on every card they asked about, and another 24% who got help on at least one of their cards. Only 9% had their request rejected altogether.

Homeowners were often successful, too, with 91% of those who asked getting a break on their monthly mortgage payment. That’s a huge deal. It shows that banks aren’t just giving these breaks to folks with 800 credit scores and long histories. They’re giving them to most everyone. That means that if you’re willing to take the time to make that request, your efforts are likely to be rewarded.

… But too few borrowers actually ask

Borrowers typically must make the first move to get help from their lender, but many have not done so.

Just 30% of folks with a mortgage or credit card asked for help with one of those payments. Many people didn’t ask because they didn’t need to — their finances hadn’t been hit that hard by the outbreak.

That certainly wasn’t the case for everyone, though. Almost 1 in 5 people (18%) who didn’t ask for help with a credit card or mortgage payment said they didn’t know they could, including about a quarter of millennials and Gen Xers.

That means an awful lot of Americans are missing out on vital assistance simply because they didn’t know to ask. That needs to change.

Gender and age gaps emerge

While the vast majority of those who asked for help got it, some demographic groups fared better than others.

Men were much more likely than women to have their request granted when asking for a break. Among cardholders who asked, 93% of men got help on at least one of their cards, while 86% of women said the same.

A more troubling gap appears when you compare the likelihood to make a request among men and women. Men were more than twice as likely to ask for help. More than 4 in 10 men (41%) asked their issuer for help with their credit card payment, while just 18% of women did the same.

When broken down by age group, Generation X homeowners and cardholders were the most successful. Among Gen Xers who asked for mortgage help, 97% had their request granted, while 94% of Gen X cardholders who asked got a break on at least one of their cards.

Both of those numbers are the highest for any age group. Gen X was also the most likely to ask for help with their credit card payment (43% did so). Millennials were the most likely to ask for a break on their mortgage payment, with 48% doing so versus 42% of millennials who did not.

On the other hand, baby boomers were far less likely than their Gen X or millennial counterparts to ask for help and to receive it if they did ask.

Just 7% of baby boomer cardholders asked for a break on their credit card payments. Of those who asked, 68% were successful for at least one card. For baby boomer homeowners, just 5% asked for mortgage help and 67% successfully got a break.

Visit our Credit Cards and Coronavirus page for more resources

The bottom line

Calling your lender and asking for help is absolutely worth your time. You may have to endure long hold times or wait a long time to get a response back after filling out an online request form.

Ultimately, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your way, but our survey results show that the vast majority of folks who take the time to reach out are getting some help. For folks struggling financially in the wake of this outbreak, that’s a big deal.

But remember: Lenders aren’t likely to seek you out to offer you this help, so it’s up to you to make sure you get it. Whether you make a call, send a tweet or write up an email, take the time to contact your lender and then be persistent.

Nobody cares as much about your money as you do, so stay on the case until you get the help you’re looking for. You’ll be glad you did.


LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,431 Americans, including 1,387 credit cardholders and 1,024 homeowners. The survey was fielded April 3-8, 2020, and the sample base was proportioned to represent the overall population.


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