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What's the best way to get a break on credit card or mortgage bills during the coronavirus economic crunch? Just ask, according to a new survey.
Nine out of 10 people who contact a card issuer or mortgage lender for relief from pandemic-related financial strain get some kind of assistance, such as a deferred or reduced payment, late-fee waivers or a lower interest rate, online financial-services marketplace LendingTree found.
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The high success rate “is a really important message to get across,” given that relatively few people ask for help, says Matt Schulz, LendingTree's chief credit analyst.
Of the 1,431 U.S. adults polled for LendingTree from April 3 to 8 by survey software firm Qualtrics, 30 percent said they had reached out to their credit card or mortgage companies since the outbreak began.
"If people are going to be sitting on hold for a long time or are going to have to jump through a lot of hoops to ask for this help, it's important for them to understand that all of that effort will lead to something good,” Schulz says.
Who Is Asking for Breaks on Bills?
Generation gap is ‘remarkable'
The survey results showed a considerable age divide, with boomers far less prone to ask for help than millennials and members of Generation X, and also less likely to receive it.
Among boomers surveyed, 7 percent said they'd contacted one or more credit cards providers about their bills, and 5 percent reached out to mortgage lenders. About two-thirds of boomers who did so got some relief. The study found ask rates above 40 percent, and success rates of more than 90 percent, for Gen Xers and millennials.
"Those are remarkable numbers,” Schulz says.
Older Americans’ financial circumstances may account for part of the gap. Boomers are more likely to have stable incomes from sources such as Social Security and pensions, “and their financial world may have been rocked a little bit less than some others” who've seen incomes disappear amid surging unemployment, Schulz says.