How To Ask for COVID-19 Bill Extensions (Plus Options)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated January 3, 2023

Published April 13, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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A bill extension is a temporary postponement of a scheduled payment that occurs in situations when you're unable to make it. If the COVID-19 pandemic has affected your job, asking for extensions on your bills can provide additional time for you to generate income or find new employment so you can make your payments. Knowing the options you have available and the steps you can take to request extensions can help you manage your expenses during this period.

In this article, we explain what a bill extension is and describe the steps you can take to ask for one during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What is a bill extension?

A bill extension is a request to delay or reduce payments temporarily due to a hardship or other qualifying circumstance. As the impact of COVID-19 continues, private companies, lending services and government agencies are allowing people to postpone payments or pay reduced rates to offset the financial costs of the pandemic. For example, if you've lost your job or have reduced hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be able to request extensions for utility bills, loan payments or other expenses you may have.

Related: COVID-19 Job Resources by State

How to request COVID-19 bill extensions

Whether you plan to request bill payment modifications or temporary relief from your repayment obligations, here are steps you can take to ask for bill extensions during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Make a budget

If you've lost your job or you're working fewer hours, make a budget by reviewing your current salary, unemployment benefits or savings. Then create a list of all payments you make over the course of a month. Make sure to consider all relevant expenses, such as groceries, gas and medical prescriptions. Also consider non-essential expenses, such as restaurants and entertainment, you can limit or eliminate to save money. Use this information to determine the payments you can continue to make and identify the ones you'd like to defer.

Related: How To Create a Personal Budget in 6 Steps

2. Contact the provider or lender

Once you've identified the payments to defer, contact those providers or lenders directly to explain your situation. As the pandemic continues, the government is encouraging banks to work with account holders to help them find solutions. For example, some banks may waive ATM fees and late fees or allow you to adjust or delay payments. Before calling a provider or lender, be prepared to explain:

  • Your current employment and financial situation

  • How much you can afford to pay

  • When you expect your situation to improve so you can resume your typical payments

  • Your assets and expenses, if you're contacting a mortgage lender

Related: How To Explain Employment Gaps Due to COVID-19

3. Consider changing your payment dates

If you're currently making payments but anticipate being unable to make future payments because of COVID-19 unemployment or reduced hours, consider changing your payment dates. In some cases, your lender can adjust the due date of your payment, giving you additional time to pay the bill. Changing your payment dates may be a good option if the due dates for your payments don't align with the income you currently receive. If you choose this option, remember that interest rates may continue to accrue, so you may have a higher bill if you pay it at a later date.

Related: How To Calculate Loan Interest in Excel (With Tips)

4. Ask for a bill extension

Depending on your situation, changing the date of your payments may not allow enough time to find a new job or generate additional income. In this case, a payment extension may be a good option for you. Ask your provider or lender whether you can defer payments temporarily. Some providers may have a limit on the number of times you can defer payments, so ask about this condition when you make your request. In addition, some providers may only provide extensions if you meet certain requirements, such as:

  • A history of on-time payments with the account

  • A certain length of time as a customer

  • A specific past-due amount

  • A request for an extension before the due date

Related: 9 Tips for What To Do When Your Unemployment Runs Out

5. Request a payment plan or reduced payment

If your lender or service provider is unable to delay your payments, consider asking for a payment plan or reduced payment. This option may be helpful if you've already missed one or several payments because you can work with the provider to create a repayment plan. In some cases, lenders may allow you to pursue this option if you promise to pay back the portion of payments you've missed when the plan period ends. Consider your budget to determine whether you can reasonably afford to make those additional payments in the future.

Related: How To Find a Job After Long-Term Unemployment

6. Work with a housing or credit counselor

Housing and credit counseling organizations can provide guidance to help you create a budget or manage your expenses. Research organizations in your area to determine if there's one that can help you. Review the services they offer and inquire about their fees. With a housing or credit counselor, you can explain your current situation and ask them about options you may have. Some may even help you negotiate with service providers and lenders to reduce or defer payments.

Related: 5 Steps To Become a Certified Credit Counselor

7. Use bill extension apps

New apps are available that help consumers work to delay rent, utility or credit card payments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These services identify bills that may be eligible for extensions or late fee waivers, and then they contact the service provider on your behalf to make a request for an extension. For example, a bill extension app may initiate a negotiation process for an extension or waiver on a credit card bill. Research different apps to help you find one that meets your needs and preferences.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Consult with a licensed financial professional for any issues you may be experiencing.

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