Coronavirus and Personal Loans

A guide to managing your debt

Note: this resource page is being updated regularly. It was last updated on Apr. 6, 2022.

By Erika Giovanetti and Rebecca Safier | Edited by Michael Galvis

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How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

The coronavirus pandemic has created financial challenges for many Americans. If you’re having trouble making payments on your personal or student loans, relief might be available. Listed below is a growing group of lenders that are offering help during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need assistance, contact your lender to learn about your options.

Lenders offering assistance with COVID-19 personal loans

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

LenderAPR ratesTermsAmounts
Affirm0.00% - 30.00%6 to 12 monthsUp to $17,500
Axos Bank7.15% - 17.99%36 to 72 months$5,000 to $50,000
Best Egg8.99% - 35.99%36 to 60 months$2,000 to $50,000
Discover6.99% - 24.99%36 to 84 monthsUp to $35,000
HSBC9.50% - 15.00%6 to 60 months$3,000 to $50,000
LendingClub8.30% - 36.00%36 to 60 months$1,000 to $40,000
LightStream6.99% - 22.49%24 to 144 months$5,000 to $100,000
OneMain Financial18.00% - 35.99%24 to 60 months$1,500 to $20,000
Oportun0.00% - 0.00%6 to 46 months$300 to $10,000
OppLoans59.00% - 160.00%9 to 18 months$500 to $4,000
PNC Bank6.49% - 24.99%6 to 60 months$1,000 to $35,000
SoFi7.99% - 23.43%24 to 84 months$5,000 to $100,000
Upgrade7.96% - 35.97%24 to 84 months$1,000 to $50,000
Upstart6.50% - 35.99%36 or 60 months$1,000 to $50,000
Wells Fargo Bank5.99% - 21.74%12 to 84 months$3,000 to $100,000

Affirm

For those that are worried about making their Affirm payments, this lender doesn’t charge late fees. If you’re experiencing difficulty repaying your loan, contact Affirm. You may qualify for loan modification.

Contact information: Contact Affirm via their website or app if you’re concerned about being able to make payments.

Axos Bank

Customers who are unable to make their personal loan payments due to COVID-19 should email Axos Bank. Expect a response within five business days; be sure to send only one email to avoid further delays.

Contact information: Email [email protected] if you find yourself unable to make payments.

Best Egg

Best Egg recommends that personal loan customers log into their account portal to see what options are available as part of their coronavirus response.

Contact information: For more support, contact Best Egg at 855-282-6353.

Discover

To help borrowers who are facing financial hardship, Discover offers a payment assistance program. To find out if you’re eligible for this program, you’ll need to contact a Discover customer service representative.

Contact information: To learn more about Discover’s payment assistance program, call 800-983-1412.

HSBC

If you have a personal loan with HSBC, your finances have been directly indirectly impacted by COVID-19 and you foresee yourself having difficulty making minimum payments, you may be eligible for support from HSBC.

Contact information: Call 800-524-9686 for assistance.

LendingClub

LendingClub offers a 15-day grace period for making payments without penalty available to all members. Further loan payment assistance may be available.

Contact information: Call 844-227-5011 or email [email protected] for assistance.

LightStream

LightStream offers a personal loan payment relief program for those who find themselves unable to make payments. For those specifically impacted by COVID-19, LightStream offers short-term loan payment accommodation plans.

Contact information: Reach out to customer service via email at [email protected].

OneMain Financial

OneMain Financial customers who are unable to make payments should contact the branch nearest to them for further assistance.

Contact information: If you’re unsure you’ll be able to keep making payments, call your local OneMain Financial Branch. This can be found on your billing statement or your online account.

Oportun

Oportun may offer reduced payments and payment deferrals, depending on your situation.

Contact information: Call 888-907-0129 to get in touch with a representative.

OppLoans

If you have a loan through OppLoans and are struggling to make on-time payments because of COVID-19, OppLoans is willing to work with you. OppLoans also offers financial wellness resources to customers.

Contact information: Call 800-990-9130 or email [email protected] for assistance.

PNC Bank

PNC Bank offers hardship assistance programs to personal loan customers. To apply, fill out the Consumer Loan Hardship Request form on PNC’s website.

Contact information: For help with a personal loan, call 888-762-2265.

SoFi

If you have a personal loan through SoFi, you may be eligible for SoFi’s Unemployment Protection Program. In the case that a borrower loses their job, this program suspends monthly loan payments while interest accrues in three-month increments, with a cap at 12 months over the life of the loan.

Contact information: To apply for Unemployment Protection for personal loans, call 855-456-7634.

Upgrade

Upgrade may work with personal loan customers on their payment options should they face financial upheaval due to COVID-19. To find out more, login to your Upgrade account.

Contact information: Customers can call Upgrade at 844-319-3909 or email at [email protected].

Upstart

If you’re unable to make loan payments, Upstart may work with you to come up with a new payment plan to help you avoid fees and penalties.

Contact information: Call Upstart at 855-451-6753 to learn more about how this lender can assist you.

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo Bank personal loan customers who are struggling to make payments due to the coronavirus pandemic may qualify for fee waivers, payment deferrals and other financial hardship assistance.

To apply, use the online payment assistance form by signing into your online banking account.

Contact information: For inquiries about your personal loan if you’re experiencing financial hardship, call 866-828-5047.

If your personal loan lender isn’t listed here, that doesn’t mean they can’t help; this isn’t an exhaustive list. We recommend reaching out to your lender on an individual level to ask what COVID-19 personal loan relief they may have available, including forbearance or payment plans.

What to know about COVID-19 personal loans

For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic was devastating to their finances, whether they lost a form of income, saw a reduction in income or experienced unexpected expenses. For some, COVID-19 personal loans may help them make ends meet until they’re able to cover expenses on their own.

Some banks, credit unions and online lenders offer what’s often known as a COVID-19 hardship loan, a type of personal loan specifically available to those experiencing hard times due to the pandemic.

COVID-19 hardship loans vs. traditional personal loans

While COVID-19 hardship loans are similar to traditional personal loans in many ways, there are a handful of key differences between the two.

  • COVID-19 hardship loans tend to be smaller than traditional personal loans. These types of loans typically range anywhere from $500 to $5,000 — large enough to help borrowers get back on their feet, but small enough to not overwhelm them with debt. Traditional personal loans, on the other hand, can be as large as $100,000.
  • You may pay lower interest rates with a COVID-19 hardship loan versus a traditional loan. Some COVID-19 hardship loans can come with interest as low as 3% — comparatively, with a general personal loan, those with a credit score of 720 or higher (an excellent credit score) will likely see an average APR of 10.73% (per LendingTree data). Keep in mind these lower rates are typically reserved for those with good or excellent credit; if you have fair or poor credit, you may pay higher interest rates.

Common uses of COVID-19 personal loans

Like traditional loans, COVID-19 personal loans can be used toward many different purposes including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Paying bills
  • Paying rent or a mortgage
  • Paying credit card bills

However, every lender is different and may have various stipulations on how you can or can’t use a COVID-19 personal loan. Before signing on the dotted line, you’ll want to have a clear answer from your lender on what expenses you can put your loan toward.

What to do if you can’t pay your personal loan due to COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many Americans uncertain of their ability to pay bills. If you’re not sure how you’ll pay your personal loan by the time the payment is due, know that you have options. The first thing you should do if you can’t pay your personal loan is contact your lender or bank. It may be able to work with you to set up assistance programs, such as:
  • FORBEARANCE

    In certain circumstances, your lender may allow you to forgo making payments for a few months. Note, however, that your loan would continue to accrue interest and you’d still have to make the payments at the end of the term, either in one lump-sum payment or as an installment loan.

  • REFINANCING

    Borrowers who can’t afford their entire loan payment but can still pay some amount could consider refinancing for a lower APR or longer terms. This can help bring your monthly payment down without the need to go into forbearance or default. Keep in mind that you might be on the hook for a loan origination fee with your new loan, or prepayment penalties if your old lender decides not to waive them.

  • PAYMENT PLANS

    If you’ve missed multiple payments on your personal loan, your lender may allow you to break up the missed payments across a number of months going forward.

If these options don’t offer the help you need, you may consider entering a debt management plan through a nonprofit credit counseling agency. This type of program can help you become current on past due accounts and reduce costs on your debt. Although it can come with fees, the credit counseling agency may be willing to offer reduced or no fees on your plan.

But generally, you should first see what options your lender has that are available to you. While there may not be specific programs listed on their website, many banks and lenders suggest contacting them if you need loan assistance due to the coronavirus.

Which debts are most important to pay first

The average American pays more than $1,200 toward debt each month, and many have long fallen behind on other bills due to reduced income, unemployment and other financial emergencies.

When you can’t pay all your bills, prioritize them. Generally, it’s most important that you pay secured debts and court-ordered debts before all else. If you fail to pay your auto loan or mortgage for multiple months, your assets could be seized by the bank. Plus, failing to pay court-ordered debt may result in wage garnishment or even jail time.

It’s also important to pay your utilities like water and energy bills every month to avoid them being cut off.

Unsecured loans and credit cards are lower-priority debts. Since they’re unsecured, you don’t risk losing an asset. However, you will risk your financial institution reporting you to the credit bureaus, which will lower your credit score. If you can, try to make the minimum payments on your credit cards to avoid late fees and a ding on your credit report.

Tip: In response to COVID-19, the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and Transunion) are currently offering free weekly credit reports to all Americans on AnnualCreditReport.com.

Alternative methods of COVID-19 financial support

Student loan relief

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Education paused payments and interest accrual on federally-held student loans in March 2020. Since then, this period of zero-interest forbearance has been extended several times.

If you owe federally-held student loans — such as direct subsidized loans, direct unsubsidized loans or PLUS loans — you won’t have to make payments until this forbearance ends after Aug. 31, 2022. After this date, your payments and interest accrual will resume.

While private student loans are not eligible for this federal forbearance, many private lenders have offered relief in response to the pandemic. If you’re struggling to pay back your private student loans, contact your lender to see if it can provide any assistance.

Debt counseling

Being over your head with debt can feel isolating for some people. Debt counseling is a free or low-cost method for you to learn how to manage your finances better and pay off your debts. Unlike debt settlement companies, debt counseling organizations are usually nonprofits and will work with you to create a debt management plan.

Unemployment support

In April 2020, unemployment rates reached 14.8%, the highest rate reported since these statistics began being studied in 1948. Thousands of Americans found themselves without jobs, and while unemployment rates have dropped significantly since, many still struggle to find employment. If you’ve found yourself without a job due to the fallout of the pandemic, be sure to apply for unemployment with whichever state you filed your last taxes with.

How to qualify for COVID-19 personal loans

Every lender will have different requirements when you fill out an application for a COVID-19 personal loan. Here are a few items most lenders will be looking for.

  • With most loans, you’ll need to provide your full name, address, contact information and Social Security number, and COVID-19 personal loans are no exception. Lenders need this information in order to verify your identification and run a credit check on you.
  • For a COVID-19 personal loan, you may need to verify your employment status and income, as lenders will want to ensure that you’ll be able to pay back the loan.
  • Whether you are approved for a personal loan may depend on a variety of factors such as your credit score, your debt-to-income ratio, and your history of making payments. Some lenders require applicants to meet a specific credit score in order to be considered qualified for a personal loan, while others will focus on other factors, such as your credit history, level of education and income.

Beware of scams and payday lenders

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the temporary closures of many restaurants, schools, travel destinations and other gathering places. Because of this, many people may struggle to make ends meet. In times of high unemployment, predatory lenders take advantage of the helpless situations people find themselves in.

Predatory lending refers to a lender that imposes unfair practices on borrowers, which are often accompanied by high interest rates and short repayment terms. In late March 2020, the Federal Reserve and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), among other financial entities, encouraged banks to issue small loans to Americans who are struggling. The announcement was met with criticism, since the Fed didn’t put any protective measures in place when urging banks to issue these small loans.

One type of predatory lending, payday lending, has already faced scrutiny amid the pandemic. Payday lending refers to a type of short-term loan that requires no credit check and can help tide people over with small amounts of money, typically $500 or less. However, these loans have sky-high interest rates — potentially as high as 400%, according to the CFPB.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, payday lenders were able to sidestep regulations banning them from advertising on Google and Facebook by partnering with out-of-state banks, a report from The Wall Street Journal found. To make sure you don’t fall victim to predatory lending, look out for these red flags:

  • Fees and very high interest rates, that can range into the triple digits.
  • Short repayment terms, which may be as little as two weeks in the case of payday loans.
  • No credit check required, since financial institutions rely on your credit score to determine eligibility.

Before you turn to a payday loan or another type of predatory lending, consider the alternatives, such as small personal loans, credit cards with favorable terms or even borrowing from friends and family. Plus, the LendingTree coronavirus hubpage has plenty of resources for people who can’t pay their debts.