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Coronavirus (COVID-19) getting financial help in Australia

Here’s how you can get financial help during the coronavirus pandemic.

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warningWe’re working hard to provide the latest information on government announcements, stimulus packages and support for Australians across the country. However, the situation is developing constantly, so always check your local state’s government website for more details.

The COVID-19 crisis is having a big impact across the country as job uncertainty increases in Australia. If you've lost your job or you're worried about your finances, it can help to know that there are ways to find financial relief. Many organisations are stepping up to help Aussies get through the crisis and it's always worth making a call to see what your options are.

This page is a guide to finding help and financial relief during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. To help keep the Australian community informed and up-to-date, we'll continue to publish relevant content as events unfold.

Banks and credit unions

Below is a summary of the actions being taken by major banks in Australia to support individuals. For business options, you can check out this guide.

Each bank has its own options for helping customers, and we have included key details as well as contact information. We recommend getting in touch with your bank to get specific information regarding your personal situation. As most banks have reported a high volume of phone calls at this time, we have included links to online support request forms when possible.

BankSupport optionsContact informationWhere to find more info
ANZ
  • Home loans. For variable home loan customers, the standard variable home loan rate will be decreased, effective 27 March 2020. A new fixed rate home loan option is available for owner-occupiers with the ANZ Breakfree Home Loan Package. Borrowers can also request a pause on repayments for up to 6 months, although interest will still be charged during the pause.
  • Credit cards. Financial hardship is available, with examples of some options including transferring to a lower rate product, changing your credit limit or setting up direct payments. Contact ANZ directly to discuss other options.
  • Personal loans. Borrowers who are paying more than the minimum repayment amount could reduce their repayments to just the minimum. They may also have access to a redraw facility. Other personal loan customers can contact ANZ to discuss more financial hardship support options.
  • Banking. Customers can access their accounts 24 hours a day through the ANZ app and online banking if they're unable to visit a branch.
  • Financial hardship: Apply through the ANZ website here
  • Home loans customer services: 13 25 99
  • Credit cards (existing account holders): 13 22 73
  • Personal loans (servicing and maintenance): 1800 801 485
Learn more
Bendigo Bank
  • Home loans. From 30 March 2020, new 1-, 2- and 3-year fixed home loan interest rates will be cut. Existing home loan customers can apply to have their repayments deferred for up to 6 months.
  • Lending. Discounted interest rates on new personal loans for existing Bendigo Bank customers. Fees and charges for restructuring or consolidating existing loans can also be waived or deferred.
  • Term deposits. There will be no interest rate reduction for early withdrawals.
Learn more
BOQ
  • Home loans. Customers can apply to defer their repayments for up to 6 months, with a check-in after 3 months. At the end of this period, BOQ will re-assess the situation with individual customers to see if further assistance is needed. Eligible variable rate home loan customers may also be able switch to interest-only repayments for 12 months. Contact BOQ to discuss your options.
  • Credit cards. BOQ credit card customers can request a payment deferral for an initial period of 3 months. This is offered through Citigroup, which issues BOQ credit cards, and can be requested by calling 1800 261 300.
  • Other lending. If you are experiencing difficulties and want some financial relief for a loan or other product from BOQ, submit a hardship request to discuss your options.
  • Term deposits and savings. Customers experiencing financial difficulty as a result of coronavirus may be able to access term deposits early with waiver on redemption fees. BOQ has also updated the bonus interest spending criteria on some personal and business savings accounts to make it simpler to earn bonus interest.
Learn more
CommBank
  • Home loans. The option of deferred repayments for up to 6 months, with a one-off payment to any interest charged during the 6-month support period. Eligible customers with principal and interest variable rate investment/home loans who pay by automatic direct debit will have their scheduled repayments reduced to the minimum required amount from 1 May 2020. CommBank will contact all affected customers in April about the change, and there will be an option to change the repayment amount online. CommBank has also lowered interest rates for some fixed-rate options, effective 30 March 2020.
  • Credit cards. Financial assistance is available on request and includes options if you are having trouble meeting repayments. Contact the Financial Assistance Solutions team to discuss your options.
  • Financial assistance team. A dedicated team to talk to over the phone from 8am - 9pm Monday to Friday and 9am - 2pm on Saturday. Call 13 30 95. You can also request financial assistance via NetBank.
  • Banking. Customers can access their accounts 24 hours a day through the NetBank or the CommBank app if they are unable to visit a branch. Check the CommBank branch information page to find out which branches are open.
Learn more
ING
  • Home loans. If your income has been affected by coronavirus, you can request a 3-month payment pause for your home loan repayments. An extension for a further 3 months (total 6 months) may also be available after assessment. Depending on the type of home loan and your circumstances, you may also be able to consider accessing a redraw facility, accessing funds in your offset account, reducing repayments to the minimum amount or switching to a fixed rate loan.
  • Credit cards. Customers can apply for a 3-6 month payment pause on their credit card. During the payment pause, the card will be inactive (meaning you can't use it for purchases) and the balance will accrue interest. At the end of the payment pause, the balance will be converted to a payment plan. Alternatively, you could consider paying the minimum monthly amount to keep your account active and in good standing.
  • Personal loans. Customers can apply for an initial 3-month payment pause, with the option of an extension for a further 3 months (totalling 6 months) subject to assessment.
  • Term deposits. Customers who have lost income or employment due to COVID-19 can contact ING to request access to their term deposit funds by contacting ING on 133 464.
  • Enquiries: 133 464
Learn more
Macquarie
  • Home loans. Customers experiencing financial difficulties can defer their repayments for 6 months, with a check-in from Macquarie after 3 months.
  • Other loan products. Customers with credit card, car and equipment loan and overdraft accounts can also defer their repayments for 6 months.
Learn more
NAB
  • Home loans. Customers can request a repayment pause for up to 6 months. Options to change repayments or access redraw funds are also available for eligible customers.
  • Credit cards. NAB has temporarily reduced the minimum monthly repayment amount to either $5 or 0.5% of the balance, with the change effective on statements issued from 27 April 2020. This reduced minimum repayment will be effective until at least 24 July 2020. The bank is also not charging late payment fees for 3 months starting from 3 April 2020. It is also reducing the interest rate on the NAB Low Rate credit card from 27 April 2020. You can also apply for financial hardship to discuss other options.
  • Personal loans. Customers who are ahead of their repayments may be able to make reduced payments or access funds through a redraw facility. Financial support is also available by application.
  • Banking. You can manage your accounts remotely through Internet banking or the NAB app.
Learn more
St.George
  • Home loans. Borrowers can apply online to defer repayments for 3 months, with an additional 3 month deferral available after review (up to a total of 6 months). Customers who have been paying more than the minimum required have the option of reducing repayments or accessing funds through a redraw facility.
  • Personal lending. Customers with a credit card, personal loan, car loan or other eligible St.George account can apply for financial assistance online and will be contacted to discuss their options.
Learn more
Suncorp
  • Home loans. Customers can request a repayment deferral for an initial period of 3 months, which can be extended for an additional 3 months upon request and assessment. Eligible customers paying principal and interest repayments can request to make interest-only payments over an agreed period of time. Customers who have paid more than the minimum amount may also be able to request either a payment variation or redraw on funds.
  • Personal loans and car loans. Customers can request a repayment deferral for an initial 3-month period, which can be extended to a maximum period of 6 months (including the initial period). Eligible customers who have made additional repayments and are "in advance" may be able to reduce or suspend repayments, up to the value of the "advance" amount.
  • Financial support application form: Apply online
  • General enquiries: 13 11 55
Learn more
Westpac
  • Home loans. Customers affected by coronavirus can request a repayment deferral for 3 months, with an extension of 3 months available after review. Westpac also offers direct debit adjustments and redraws for eligible customers.
  • Personal lending. Customers with a Westpac personal loan, credit card, car loan or other eligible account can request financial assistance to find out what options are available based on their circumstances.
Learn more

Looking for more information?

We also have dedicated guides on mortgage assistance, credit card management, car insurance and personal loans.

Dealing with credit card debt

If you're worried about paying off your credit cards in these uncertain times, you could move your debt to a balance transfer credit card. These cards charge 0% interest for an introductory period that can last up to 26 months. By paying no interest, you could save and pay off your debt faster.

If you have more than one debt, you can also move multiple debts under one new account with a balance transfer. At the end of the 0% promotional period, any remaining balance will start attracting interest. So it's wise to pay off your debt before interest applies to get the most value out of a balance transfer.

Some balance transfer credit cards charge annual fees and balance transfer fees (which are usually around 1.5%-2% of your transfer amount). You should also check that you have a good credit score and meet the card's eligibility criteria before you apply. If you want to learn more, check out our guide on managing your credit card during the coronavirus pandemic.

Consolidating your debt to ease your finances

During COVID-19 your budget may be stretched, and this can make it difficult if you have debt to repay. If you have unsecured debt that you're looking to consolidate, you have a few options available to you. One option is an unsecured personal loan. This is an option to consider if you have multiple lines of credit that you want to combine to reduce what you're paying in interest and fees. It can also make your repayments more manageable.

Unsecured personal loans can be used to consolidate personal loans, lines of credit and even credit cards. To decide if this is the right option for you, calculate what you're paying across all of your debts each month and then check what you'd pay if you consolidated your debt into a new debt consolidation personal loan. If the new amount is lower, it might be an option you want to consider.

Something else to keep in mind before applying for an unsecured personal loan to consolidate debt is your credit score. Whenever you apply for something like a personal loan it's recorded on your credit report and affects your score. Only apply for a loan once you've decided on the right loan for you and don't make too many applications in a short space of time.

Insurers

Many of Australia's insurers offer financial hardship support to customers when they are in need. This includes options for health insurance, life insurance, car insurance and home insurance. The type of support varies but could include:

  • Freezing your premiums
  • Temporarily suspending your cover
  • Reducing costs in other ways e.g. switching insurers

Some of the insurance providers offering premium freezes as a result of financial hardship include:

To see if you can freeze your premiums, contact your insurer directly and discuss your options. All health insurers also delayed the annual 1 April premium increase for 6 months.

Energy providers

Below are some of the energy companies doing their bit for customers and businesses impacted by the virus.

AGL

Responding to the Federal Government's call for big businesses to help during this crisis, AGL will accelerate payments to small business suppliers for the next six months, with invoices to be paid within 14 days. This is down from 30 days.

CEO Brett Redman issued a statement, which said: "For any small supplier who isn't getting paid within the 14 days, we urge you to get in touch."

Origin Energy

Below is a summary of all the actions Origin Energy put in place to support customers:

  • Encouraging customers, where possible, to use Origin's website or mobile app to manage their enquiries due to longer than usual wait times on phone lines.
  • Prioritising assistance for the most vulnerable customers, including those with life support needs, and those who need their energy supply reconnected.
  • Customers who are experiencing difficulty paying their bills can request a payment extension online.
  • Origin's hardship program will continue to provide support to customers who are experiencing payment difficulty through services like tailored payment plans.
  • They have also temporarily suspended disconnections for customers for non-payment.

Financial hardship programs from energy and Internet providers

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Internet and mobile providers

Due to the increase in people working from home, a handful of Internet providers have announced made financial help more available to those impacted by COVID-19.

Vodafone encouraged those who have been financially impacted both directly or indirectly by COVID-19 to get into contact to discuss flexible options that are available. This includes arranging payment plans, payment extensions and possibly waiving late payment or collection fees. You can fill out their financial hardship application online or give Vodafone a call on 1300 650 405 between 8am-8pm from Monday to Friday.

Aussie Broadband offers financial hardship assistance to customers, which could include payment plans and more tailored individual solutions for customers who are experiencing financial difficulties. It has also temporarily offered unmetered data usage between 6am and 6pm for eligible customers. You can contact the team on 1300 880 905 or via the MyAussie app.

Telstra waived late fees and disconnections for small businesses and consumers who were unable to pay bills between 19 March to 30 June 2020. It also offered extra data to eligible Internet and mobile customers, and discounts to eligible people on JobSeeker payments. Call 13 22 00 (Monday to Friday, 8am – 5pm) and say "financial hardship" to discuss your options with a Telstra representative. You can also fill in a payment extension request form here. You can also get help through their Support centre or via the My Telstra or Telstra 24x7 app.

All Telstra's personal and small business post-paid mobile and mobile broadband customers can register for an extra 25GB of data at no extra charge by 19 April 2020. You can register via the My Telstra apps until 19 April 2020. The data will be made available within 48 hours. From Thursday 19 March until 30 April 2020, they are also providing unlimited data for personal and small business customers with home broadband plans (ADSL, nbn and cable). The data will be provided to you automatically at no extra charge.

Optus is offering financial assistance to affected customers, with possible solutions including changing plans, waiving late fees or granting a temporary hold on bill payments. To discuss your options, call 1800 120 698 or send a message through the My Optus App. Optus has also offered unlimited broadband data for eligible customers, effective between April and June 2020.

Other Internet and mobile providers also have programs in place to help you if you're going through a rough patch, so it's worth contacting your provider or checking its website for more details.

Superannuation

In times of extreme financial hardship it is possible to access between $1,000-$10,000 of your superannuation. On 22 March 2020, the federal government announced that those affected by the coronavirus and experiencing financial difficulty, could access their super and withdraw up to $10,000. Unlike previous financial hardship withdrawals from super, this will not be taxed. However, accessing your super early comes with a number of risks and is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Read our guide on this legislation to see if you're eligible to access your super early and what to consider before doing so.

National stimulus packages

In order to soften the blow of the coronavirus crisis on the economy, the Australian federal government has released a number of stimulus packages. You can find a more detailed summary of these packages here. As an overview, some of the key initial measures included:

  • Centrelink support. The eligibility requirements for Centrelink support, in particular for JobSeeker and Youth Allowance, has been greatly expanded. In addition, a number of the hurdles on the journey to being approved for welfare payments have been knocked down. This is to ensure people who have suddenly lost their jobs or most of their income can get support quickly. An additional $550 Coronavirus Supplement will be added to the base Centrelink payment each fortnight, too. We have a massive guide that takes you through all the details and how to apply.
  • $1.3b in support payments to keep apprentices in work. The Government will offer up to $7,000 per apprentice per quarter to keep them in work. The measure will support around 70,000 small businesses employing approximately 117,000 apprentices. Find out more about how to apply and eligibility by contacting an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network provider here.
  • JobKeeper subsidies. Workers that have lost their job or had hours reduced as a result of coronavirus may be eligible for the government's fortnightly JobKeeper payment of $1,500, paid through their employer. Find out more about eligibility here. Employers can register to apply for the JobKeeper Payment from 30 March 2020 on The Australian Taxation Office.
  • Low-income earners will receive $750 cash. A number of welfare recipients and concession card holders will receive two $750 bonus payments (one in early April and a second in early July). This includes 2.4 million pensioners and those with a commonwealth seniors card. It should be automatically added to your welfare payment.
  • Businesses will be allowed to defer tax obligations. The Australian Taxation Office announced that it will offer relief to those hit hard by the downturn on a case-by-case basis. Contact the ATO on 1800 806 218 or visit their website here for further information.
  • Changes to the pension deeming rate. Payment recipients whose income is assessed using deeming could receive up to $1,612 extra a year (for couples), and up to fortnight $1,300 a year (for singles). The extra money will begin to go into people's bank accounts from 1 May.
  • Boosting cash flow for employers. Up to $25,000 will be given to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff and will be tax free. It will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people. Businesses don't need to apply - the cash flow boost is a tax free payment and is automatically calculated by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
  • Assistance for severely affected areas such as tourism, agriculture and education. The Government has also set aside $1 billion to support regions and communities disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the coronavirus. According to the Business Gov website, the $1 billion will be available for distribution through existing or new mechanisms as soon as practicable.
  • Increasing the instant asset write-off for businesses. The Government has increased the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanded access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million until 30 June 2020. You can get more information about eligibility and how to apply here.
  • Backing business investment. The Government has given businesses an incentive to invest by accelerating depreciation deductions. In a nutshell, businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation. Existing depreciation rules will apply to the balance of the asset's cost.This will be in place until 30 June 2021. You can get more information about eligibility here.
  • Small businesses will receive cash payments up to $100,000. This is part of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure and will be applied for a limited number of activity statement lodgments. The ATO should deliver the payment as a credit to your business upon lodgment of your activity statements.
  • Guaranteed loans. The government are also guaranteeing unsecured small business loans up to $250,000. This is being offered by many of Australia's major banks, including NAB and Bankwest. No repayments will be required for six months. The unsecured loans are 50 per cent guaranteed by the Federal Government and no interest will be charged unless the money is actually used. Reach out to your bank to see if they are offering the loan.
  • Superannuation access. The Government will allow people to access up to $10,000 from their superannuation.

Free financial tools

If you are facing extreme financial stress in Australia, you may be able to access financial counselling services. Financial counsellors are qualified professionals who provide information, advice and advocacy to people in financial difficulty.

The National Debt Hotline is another free tool available to those who are struggling to pay their debts. Call 1800 007 007 to speak to trained financial counsellors who can offer guidance on your situation.

There are a wide range of apps and websites that exist to help you track your spending. The Finder app can help you as you make plans for the future. Track your spending, see where you can cut down and create budgets you can stick to.

Take care of your mental health

There is a lot of stress and anxiety in the world right now and that can be made worse if you're struggling financially. It's important to know where to get help if you're finding it hard to cope.

If you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, try reaching out to Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. You can speak with trained mental health professionals over the phone or through the online forum. Their website also contains excellent information and tools for maintaining good mental health.

Telehealth services for mental health services are also now widely available with Medicare and Private Health Insurance.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or severe emotional distress, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. They are a 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention network.

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000 to get help from emergency services as soon as possible.

Other quick ways to save money

Are you worried about your finances during this time? Don't forget to review your bills - spending a little time on admin, could save you over the weeks and months to come.

Here are some guides on how to save some money on your daily expenses. There are plenty of things you could do, from checking your energy rates, switching to a low-interest credit card, or simply dropping parts of your insurance that you don't need.

Pictures: Getty Images

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DianaApril 18, 2020

    We are a small not for profit run solely by volunteers and we are now financially stressed with both Public Liability Insurance and Volunteers Insurance due in the next 30 days we have had vary little income since the start of the year. Is there some help for us?

    • Default Gravatar
      RestyApril 23, 2020

      Hi Diana,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder.

      Sorry to hear about what you’re going through. I must agree that this is indeed a stressful time for everyone.

      I understand that you want to know if there’s some help for you as you have a small business not for profit but solely for volunteers and you have insurances due in the next 30 days?

      For not-for-profit small businesses, you can still be entitled to grants. If your business is eligible, when you lodge your activity statements (BAS or IAS), you can be entitled from $20,000 to $100,000 tax-free grants. The grants will consist of what’s referred to as “initial cash flow boosts” and “additional cash flow boosts”. There is no need to apply for these grants after you lodge your activity statement and you qualify the cash flow assistance will be delivered as credits in the activity statement system from the government’s announced date of 28 April 2020.

      In terms of your insurance that is soon to be due, many of Australia’s insurers offer financial hardship support to customers when they are in need. You may also review the PDS/T&C’s of the policies and contact your insurer directly and discuss your options.

      I hope this helps. Stay safe.

      Best regards,
      Resty

  2. Default Gravatar
    JennaApril 15, 2020

    Hi I was wondering who could help me with a small loan at this diffuled time

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      DeeApril 16, 2020Staff

      Hi Jenna,

      Thanks for reaching out to Finder.

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It is indeed a difficult time for everyone.

      It can be expensive to borrow small amounts of money at this time. You may want to consider checking first Centrelink’s online tool to see what payments and services you may be eligible for in connection with COVID-19 pandemic.

      In case you want to check your small loan options, you may visit our guide and comparison page here. We have a table where you may compare small loans based on the maximum loan amount, costs, turn-around time and fees. Before making a decision, please review the eligibility criteria and product disclosure statement of the loan. You can then click the “go to site” button to proceed with your application.

      I hope this helps Jenna. Feel free to let me know if you have other questions.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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