Britain extends pandemic credit card relief

© Reuters. © Reuters.

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Consumers in difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have more time to ask for a temporary freeze on their credit card payments, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said on Wednesday.

Measures introduced in April to offer temporary relief to customers with credit cards and interest-free bank overdrafts were due to end this month.

The FCA said that customers yet to request a payment freeze or an arranged interest-free overdraft of up to 500 pounds, will have until Oct. 31 to apply.

“For those who are now in a position to restart payments, it will be in their best interests to do so. But for those who still need it, the package we are confirming today ensures there is help and further support,” said Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s interim chief executive.

Firms should contact customers coming to the end of a first payment freeze to find out if they can resume payments – and if so, agree a plan on how the missed payments could be repaid, the watchdog said.

The FCA also said on Wednesday that temporary curbs on how banks charge for overdrafts during the pandemic would not be extended.

“Firms that do choose to increase their charges from this temporary level should give customers impacted by coronavirus an opportunity to seek extra support before any changes take effect,” the FCA said.

Wednesday’s statement does not apply to other forms of consumer credit including motor finance, payday loans, pawnbroking, rent-to-own and buy-now pay-later products whose COVID-19 related measures will be updated soon, the FCA said.

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