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Could You Qualify for a Coronavirus Hardship Loan?

Updated July 8, 2022
Maurie Backman
Angelica Leicht
By: Maurie Backman and Angelica Leicht

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Millions of Americans have been laid off in the course of the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many households are experiencing financial hardship right now. If you're unemployed or your income's been hit by the ongoing crisis, you may be able to take out a coronavirus hardship loan. Here's how.

How a coronavirus hardship loan works

A coronavirus hardship loan is a special kind of personal loan available to those who have been impacted financially by the pandemic. Like a personal loan, you can use a coronavirus hardship loan for any purpose, like:

How to get a coronavirus hardship loan

So where can you find a hardship loan, and how do you qualify for one? We'll go over these and other questions below.

Where can I get a coronavirus hardship loan?

You can get a coronavirus hardship loan from an online lender, your bank, or a credit union.

Online lenders

Some online lenders are offering coronavirus hardship loans.

Online lenders also offer loans for individuals who need help paying medical or other bills, but can't prove significant income loss due to the pandemic. If you're having trouble making ends meet, but you're not sure if you qualify for a hardship loan, you could qualify for a low-interest personal loan with an online lender.

To find out about coronavirus-specific loans, contact your preferred online lender for more details.

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Banks

Several banks are giving out coronavirus hardship loans. If you have an existing relationship with a bank, call and ask about the bank's available hardship loans. The interest rate you get and the length of your repayment period will depend on the specific lender. The American Bankers Association also has detailed information on which banks are offering financial relief during this time. You can search for a bank by name on its website for more information.

Credit unions

Coronavirus hardship loans are largely available through credit unions. If you're not already part of a credit union, you'll need to join one to explore this route. You can use the National Credit Union Administration's credit union locator tool to find one near you (some credit unions require that you live in a certain area to qualify, so this tool will help you narrow down your options). Many credit unions are letting coronavirus hardship loan borrowers automatically defer their payments for 90 days, which is great if you're in a financial crunch right now.

How do I qualify for a COVID-19 hardship loan?

Each lender will set its own coronavirus hardship loan requirements.

A coronavirus hardship loan is a short-term loan for those who can prove their income has been slashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, so you may need to provide proof of income loss. There have, unfortunately, been many incidents of coronavirus relief fraud since the pandemic began, so don't be shocked if you're asked to share a lot of detail on your loan application.

Also, keep in mind that the better your credit score, the greater your chances of getting approved for a pandemic personal loan. You check your credit score for free online. If your credit history isn't perfect, check out our guide to improving your credit score for key strategies to build credit.

What else do I need to know about coronavirus hardship loans?

Coronavirus hardship loans are generally smaller loans. Most hardship loans range from $500 to $5,000 -- enough to get you through a few months of unemployment. The loan repayment terms for these hardship loans are flexible, ranging from six months to five years.

These loans come with low interest rates (some start as low as 3%). They're far better than payday loans or other predatory loans, which seem to offer fast cash but charge unreasonably high interest rates.

If you're looking at payday loans, make sure you explore alternatives first. Check out our lists of payday loan alternatives, no credit check loans, and quick and easy online loans to get an idea of your options.

Alternatives to a coronavirus hardship loan

If you don't qualify for a coronavirus hardship loan, you could instead apply for a regular personal loan. This shouldn't be your first choice -- you may get stuck with a higher interest rate and a less flexible repayment term than you would find with a hardship loan. Still, generally speaking, you'll pay a lower interest rate than you would on a credit card.

If your main concern is paying medical bills, look for a medical loan. We've compiled a list of top-rated medical loans, which could be a good starting point for your search.

If you've lost your job, check out our guide to getting a loan while unemployed for information on how to qualify for a personal loan with alternative forms of income (such as unemployment benefits).

If you own a home, you can also try applying for a home equity loan or line of credit. Some lenders hit pause on home equity lines of credit earlier on in the pandemic, but plenty has happened since then. You may have an easier time getting one at this stage of the pandemic.

Of course, there's also the option to reach out to the people you owe money to and request direct relief. For example, if you ask for help, your landlord might agree to let you defer rent payments for a few months, your credit card company might waive a late fee if you need more time to make your monthly minimum payments, and your utility providers might give you extra time to pay your bills.

If you have a mortgage, you should be able to hit pause on your payments by putting it into forbearance. It is not automatic -- you'll have to request it from your lender. And of course, you will eventually have to make up the missed payments. But it may buy you some breathing space at this difficult time.

Be sure to explore these relief options on top of a coronavirus hardship loan, especially if you're really struggling to make ends meet.

Lenders offering COVID-19 assistance to existing customers

The lenders below have a wide range of coronavirus hardship assistance programs. While these lenders may not offer specific hardship loans, options include reduced or deferred loan payments, waived late fees, and access to debt management programs.  

Even if your lender isn't listed, you should still reach out directly to see if they offer a forbearance plan or other financial relief. Be sure to check into the other COVID-related financial assistance programs available as well.  

Details below are current as of publication. Talk to your lender for the most current details on coronavirus payment relief.

Avant

Avant has a range of financial solutions available for customers experiencing hardships. Use the Avant app or your online account to find out your options. You can also call Avant's customer service team at 800-712-5407 for information on COVID-19 related assistance. 

Best Egg

Best Egg customers should log into their account via the Best Egg account portal to find out what payment programs are available. For example, some borrowers may be eligible for deferred payments. Alternatively, you may be able to temporarily adjust payment amounts or access debt management support.

Discover

Early in the pandemic, Discover Personal Loan initially offered one-month payment deferrals to customers who needed assistance. That program has since ended. However, Discover is still offering assistance to customers who need it on a case-by-case basis.

You can reach out to the Discover customer service team online, through the mobile app, or via the mobile text app.

HSBC

HSBC customers who've been directly or indirectly impacted by coronavirus and are struggling to pay their personal loans may qualify for hardship assistance. If you hold an HSBC personal loan, contact the lender to ask for support.

To find out what types of assistance you may qualify for, call HSBC at 800-524-9686.

LendingClub

LendingClub members have access to a couple of assistance options, including a 15-day grace period during which they can make payments without any penalties or fees. If this is not enough, you can get in touch to apply for additional help. 

For more information on available programs or to apply for assistance on your LendingClub loan, call 1-877-644-4446. Bear in mind that it might take seven to 10 days to process.

LendingPoint

LendingPoint is another financial institution offering assistance to customers who need extra time or flexibility with making loan payments. It's extending multiple solutions to customers, so get in touch to find out what's available. 

If you need assistance with your LendingPoint loan, call 888-969-0959.

LightStream

LightStream may be able to defer your monthly payment if you're struggling due to the pandemic. To find out if you're eligible for payment relief, log in to your Account Services page and request a deferment or email LightStream directly.

Marcus

Marcus loan customers who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can postpone their loan payment for one month with no additional interest. The loan term will simply be extended by a month instead.

Navy Federal Credit Union has several options for eligible members who are struggling to make payments on their loans. These include loan extensions, deferred payments, and pandemic relief loans.

To find out what may be available to you, call NFCU's customer service line at 800-336-3767 or visit the NFCU COVID-19 pandemic relief page online.

OneMain

Customers struggling to make their OneMain loan payments may be eligible for payment deferral or reduced monthly payments through the OneMain borrower assistance program.

If you need assistance with your OneMain loan, call 800-961-5577 to find out the possible options.

Happy Money

Happy Money offers a number of assistance programs to customers experiencing financial hardships due to natural disasters, including COVID-19. The easiest way to find out what help you may qualify for is to log in to your happymoney.com member account. You can also contact Happy Money via LiveChat, email, or call customer service at 1-800-878-0901 .

PNC

There are several hardship relief options for PNC customers, including payment assistance. If you're experiencing hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may also be able to postpone payments for a set period of time or reduce your loan payments. Customers may also qualify for a loan modification to help reduce their payments in the long run. 

Upgrade

Upgrade offers a range of assistance for customers affected by COVID-19. Sign in to your Upgrade account to find out what options are open to you.  

Upstart

Upstart may be able to offer you alternative payment plans, hardship assistance, payment reductions, deferrals, or another repayment arrangement. 

Upstart asks you to log into your account or call the support line directly at 855-438-8778.

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Personal Loan assistance is available to customers who are struggling with loan payments. Eligible customers may qualify for deferments for three consecutive billing cycles. Help is also available for those who have already received assistance. To find out more, log in to your account, use the Wells Fargo app, or call 800-241-0028.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone -- some more than others. If you're experiencing financial hardship, you're not alone. Check out our list of coronavirus resources for more information on where to find help and support in this challenging season.

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