How to get financial relief for your credit card during the Australian bushfire crisis
If you have been affected by the bushfires, you may be able to defer repayments or access emergency funds through your credit card.
Banks and financial institutions across Australia are offering support packages to customers affected by the fires.
For credit card accounts specifically, this includes deferred payments for up to three months (with or without interest charges), which could mean you have one less bill to worry about in the immediate future.
If you need access to funds, some credit card providers are also offering increased emergency credit limits, along with other options such as discounted personal loans and early access to term deposits (if you have one).
The Australian Bankers Association has released a statement that outlines what type of financial support is available, but it does depend on your specific bank.
This means the fastest way to find out what options are available to you is to visit your credit card provider's website or call the number that's listed on the back of your card.
We have also put together a list of the credit card relief options you could request through major banks in Australia.
Credit card support for ANZ customers during the bushfire crisis includes the following:
- Suspending payments for up to three months (note that this may include "interest capitalisation", where interest charges are added to the balance over that time)
- Temporary interest rate relief on lending for customers experiencing extreme financial distress in areas impacted by the fires
CommBank's bushfire support package includes customised assistance for credit card customers (as well as people with home loans and personal loans). Contact the special assistance team on 1300 720 814 to find out what's available for you.
NAB credit card customers can request credit card relief by calling NAB Assist on 1300 683 106 (8am-8pm Mon-Fri or 9am-1pm on Saturdays AEST/AEDT).
Westpac credit card customers affected by the bushfires can apply to defer repayments to their card for up to 90 days. If you are experiencing severe financial hardship, you may also be able to request a halt on interest charges for up to three months. Find out more by calling Westpac Assist on 1800 067 497.
If you have a St.George credit card, you can request a deferral on your repayments for up to 90 days by calling 1800 629 795.
What if you don't request support immediately?
While it is ideal to contact your bank as soon as possible, there is no time limit on when you can request financial support. So if you have more urgent concerns or if you don't realise you need help straight away, you may still be able to ask for support in the future.
Contact your credit card provider or bank when you can and let them know why you were unable to get in touch earlier. They will then look at what options are available based on your circumstances.
Other support options
If you need money to buy replacement items or pay for a place to stay, you may be able to get a personal loan at a discounted rate. Likewise, if you have money in a term deposit, you may be able to access it early without penalties during the bushfire crisis.
Remember, if you have been affected, financial support is available in many forms. So visiting a bank branch or calling them up could help take some of the financial worries off your mind right now.
If you need support in other ways, the government's dedicated bushfire page includes resources for each state and territory that's currently affected.
Or, if you want to know how you can support others who have been affected, check out our guide on how you can donate or volunteer.
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