Banks to defer mortgage payments and increase credit limits for those struggling due to coronavirus
Several major banks have announced support measures for customers affected by coronavirus, including mortgage payment holidays, increased credit limits and penalty-free access to fixed savings.
Barclays, Lloyds and NatWest are among some of the major banks to confirm that support will be available to customers affected by Covid-19.
Temporary credit limit increases, payment holidays on credit cards, loans and mortgages and fees waived on missed payments are some of the support measures being rolled out.
However, what exactly is available will depend on your personal circumstances as all customers' situations will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
This comes after the head of UK Finance, the trade body which represents UK banks, acknowledged that some consumers may be worried about falling into financial difficulties due to issues related to coronavirus – for example, if their income drops due to coronavirus measures or they incur unexpected expenses.
For full and constantly updated info on the financial help available during the coronavirus crisis, see our Coronavirus Financial Help & Rights guide. And for help with travel insurance, holiday bookings and more, see our Covid-19 Travel Rights guide.
What are different banks doing?
Several banks have now announced the support they'll be offering to customers:
- Barclays says customers facing financial difficulty should speak to it directly, and will be able to apply for temporary credit limit increases. It's also waiving penalty charges for these customers if they want to access their fixed savings accounts before the official end of the term.
- Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland and MBNA say they will offer payment holidays on loans and mortgages, with extra support for customers who need it. They will also waive fees for missed payments on credit cards, loans and mortgages.
They will also allow emergency access to fixed-term savings, and will increase the amount customers can deposit into their accounts using online banking (for example, if someone can't go into a branch due to being in self-isolation).
- NatWest and RBS say customers could be offered mortgage or loan payment deferrals of up to three months. They may also be able to apply for temporary credit limit increases and to close fixed-term savings accounts early to access their cash, without paying a penalty.
- Santander says affected customers can call its dedicated coronavirus helpline on 0800 01 56 382, and it will explore ways to support them depending on their circumstances. Support could include options to defer or reduce any repayments that are due.
- TSB says mortgage customers can apply for repayment holidays of up to two months, while personal loan customers can already apply for payment holidays as standard.
Credit card customers can also request an emergency credit limit increase, while current account customers can apply for increased cash withdrawal limits of £500 or more, depending on their circumstances.
Customers will also be able to waive fees on TSB's fixed-rate ISAs, while those with fixed bonds will be able to access their money early.
We've asked other major banks about their policies for offering support to customers who are affected by coronavirus, and will update this story when we know more.
In the meantime, you can get in touch with your bank's customer support team directly to check what help you might be able to access, as any support will be offered on a case-by-case basis.
What does UK Finance say?
Stephen Jones, head of UK Finance, said: "Banks, building societies and credit card providers understand that some of their customers may be worried about the effect that contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) could have on their finances, for example due to a drop in income or because of unexpected expenses or bills to pay.
"All providers are ready and able to offer support to their customers who are impacted directly or indirectly by Covid-19, which could include offering or increasing an overdraft or allowing repayment relief for loan or mortgage repayments: asking for help early is key.
"We would encourage customers who think they may be affected to contact their provider as soon as possible to discuss the support available to them."