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How Most Credit Cards’ COVID-19 Relief Package Don’t Actually Help Us

For years, we’ve read from multiple travel blogs, credit card blogs, and every travel media outlet how the Chase Sapphire credit cards, especially the Chase Saphhire Reserve are the best credit card option for travelers.

It goes so far in the travel world that The Points Guy blog promotes the credit card non-stop, and presents it with an annual award at their gala each year. One time, Brian Kelly (The Points Guy namesake) even famously wore a suit made out of Chase Sapphire Reserve cards.

But, as so often happens, corporations and banks show their true colors in times of need. The past month during quarantine and lockdowns and the “New York Pause,” myself and 6+ million others have lost work. We’ve lost contracts, jobs, businesses are shutting down.

As soon as I started to feel the economic pain from this process, I reached out to my banks and credit cards to see what they were doing. Most of my credit card debt is with Chase and they were the first ones I contacted. This was before any banks announced any relief efforts, except Apple Card which was immediately offering deferred payments and zero interest.

The first call I made to Chase bank about my Saphhire Reserve card led nowhere. I didn’t have any interest charges from the previous month because I usually pay it off in full. But, waiting on thousands of dollars in unpaid invoices and an unsure economic future in travel/tourism, I was hesitant to pay my bill in full for March.

The customer service agent, while friendly and supportive, didn’t have any idea what kind of relief Chase was planning to provide, and honestly, I was just asking to have my interest charges waived for the interim period. There was nothing to be done and I was told to wait until the next billing cycle.

Then, like clockwork, each and every bank and credit card company started to announce their relief packages. Each and every one has essentially waived late fees so payments don’t need to be made for the next couple of months, but that won’t stop them from charging interest.

Honestly, I’m angry. In the 2008 Great Recession, so many banks received bail-outs. Socialism for the corporations; capitalism for the rest of us. And I just don’t see how banks and lenders right now, by providing the absolute bare minimum relief during this current recession; I don’t see how it is helpful for anyone.

It’s not fair. It’s even insulting.

To think that banks, with their healthy, government-backed resources would continue charging the same interest rates knowing that so many people are out of work. It’s offensive, insulting, and should be criminal.

Similar to the mortgage relief packages that some local/state governments have provided, the measures are seemingly designed to only help those at the top of the economy.

With the mortgage relief package in New York state, some landlords and homeowners are able to pause payments on their mortgage for the next three months; however, renters do not receive any sort of economic relief. Rather, in New York, renters have been told that evictions would not take place for the next three months, and our credit reports would go unaffected.

But let’s look closer. That still means, someone like myself who rents an apartment, would owe three full months of rent at the end of this relief grace period to avoid any penalties or eviction. What am I supposed to do if during these three months I haven’t been able to make any. money? What is the point of a three-month grace period, when the likelihood of making up that lost income in the immediately succeeding month is totally unlikely and probably impossible?

The government has failed its citizens with that mortgage relief measure designed to help homeowners, but completely forgetting about renters (who make up a huge portion of the home market). In all likelihood, banks took this same style to offer a meaningless relief package.

Again, like during the Great Recession, the people have been forgotten. I’m tired of a government that doesn’t protect us. I’m tired of corporations and banks continually taking advantage of us, offering nothing to support the people. We live in a trapped world, stuck in a capitalistic society that has forgotten how to protect the people.

I’m angry because during this crisis, I haven’t known where to turn to get help except strangers on the internet, and my loved ones. But that’s not how society should work. It just doesn’t make sense. We pay our taxes and contribute to society. Where do we get protection from?

Anyways, all these thoughts stemmed from me trying to get the tiniest bit of relief from my credit card company. It’s unfair that they’d take so much advantage over an already desperate population, during an unprecedented crisis.

And, unfortunately, it seems that it’s just the way it is. Things need to change. And to change fast. My hope is that as this crisis worsens, more people will refuse to be taken advantage of—and maybe we will start to see real change that affects policy and, in turn, makes a positive affect on all our lives.

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