These Banks are Helping Small Businesses Cope with COVID-19

Published on March 20, 2020

How banks and financial institutions are supporting local businesses during COVID-19

A great deal of publicity has been made over businesses that are helping the general public during the COVID-19 pandemic, offering extra online services or free internet for a month while people work from home. But what about small businesses?

As many small businesses find themselves without patrons, closing their doors due to quarantines, and unable to make payroll, banks across America are offering solutions. Given the fluctuating situation and the areas impacted by government issues or encouraged quarantines, many banks are evaluating their options on a case by case basis, but are offering a range of fee waiving and potential credit line extensions for small businesses.

Small Business Aid

The government has made an effort to step up, and noted that in the event small businesses are not able to find loans or other financial aid from their states, they won’t be left out to dry.

SBA is offering loans for those impacted in amounts up to $2 million for small businesses. They are available to those businesses which suffered “substantial economic injury” because of coronavirus and can be used to cover things like bills the business cannot pay because of lost income, payroll, or outstanding debt. Only those small businesses with no available credit can qualify, and the interest rate is at 3.75%.

Some banks are also taking steps to help small business owners out as regular customers stay home.

Truist is offering payment relief for business credit cards and business loans, for those impacted by COVID-19. However, they are being reviewed on a case by case basis.

Wells Fargo has asked small businesses to contact them directly if impacted, as the bank is offering special lending for small businesses, the details for which are determined on a case by case basis.

Wave Goodbye to Fees: Small Business Waivers

One of the biggest ways banks are helping small businesses is similar to how they are helping other customers: waiving fees. This includes ATM fees, surcharges on expedited checks, monthly fees, late fees, and more.

Ally is waiving all fees for overdraft on accounts for the next 120 days, which can help small businesses faced with overdraft fees. They are also waiving fees for expedited checks, so businesses can still pay for supplies and payroll.

Bank of America is following the SBA in offering small businesses assistance including things like forbearance on business loans. They have made it clear that small businesses unable to pay bills on time should contact the services team to get help finding a resolution.

Capital One has informed their customers that fee suppression, minimum payment assistance, and deferred loan assistance are all options for those impacted by COVID-19 though the company hasn’t put forth a comprehensive policy and is instead dealing with things on a case by case basis.

Chase, having closed many of their branches has made it clear that their small business customers have the potential for things like fee waivers, changed due dates, extended lines of credit, and in areas that the government designates a quarantine area, they will proactively waive certain fees. Like Capital One though, this is being dealt with case by case, and small businesses are encouraged to contact them directly.

Starting March 9, CitiBank automatically waived monthly service fees for small businesses, waived remote deposit capture fees, penalties for early CD withdrawal, and is offering potential credit line increases and forbearance programs for those with company credit cards.

Fifth Third Bank has strategies for emergencies, which are being applied to COVID-19 and these include hardship programs for small business customers.

Truist is also waiving ATM surcharges for businesses and offering 5% cash back through April 15 for customers who use company credit cards at qualifying pharmacies and grocery stores.

Overall, a wide range of banks across the nation have already started their relief programs, designed to help small businesses get out of these troubled times without being in the hole or closing their doors.

There still remain many banks that have either focused on individual customers only in their plight, or failed to offer any aid at all. If you’re looking for a way to help local businesses in your area, purchasing gift cards for your favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, etc. can support these smaller operations while regular patronage isn’t possible.

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