Credit Card Hardship: How to Ask For Help

Americans hold at least $6,000 in credit card debt on average. And while credit card debt is considered “unsecured” debt, it can wreak havoc on your credit report if you miss a payment.

Whether you’ve lost a job or are just trying to make ends meet, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you’re struggling to repay your credit cards, you could qualify for a credit card hardship program. Read on to learn more about this program and how it might be able to help you.

What is the Credit Card Hardship Program?

Depending on the issuer, your credit card company may offer a special program to help you during times of need. This program is designed to help temporarily reduce your monthly payment amount until you can get back on track.

In most cases, the program will last for a minimum of six months to a maximum of one year. During that time, you’ll still need to make your payments on time, but the required amount will be lower.

You may even be able to waive certain fees like late fees and over-charge limit fees depending on the company. The goal is simple: you get a break, and your card issuer still gets paid.

In order to enroll in this program, there are certain guidelines you’ll need to follow, but it’s a wonderful way to reduce your stress while salvaging your credit score.

Examples of Hardship

When it comes to financing and debt, there’s a myriad of reasons you could be falling behind. The most common reason is job loss. When you lose your income, of course, you’re going to lose the ability to pay certain bills.

Another example of hardship may include a serious illness or an injury. During those times, you may not be able to work, and you’re likely accruing some large medical bills, too.

A death in the family and even a divorce are also common forms of financial hardship. When you lose someone, you are not only struggling emotionally but likely financially.

Finally, another common cause of financial hardship is coping with a natural disaster. If you’re a victim of a storm, flood, or fire, you are probably struggling to maintain your financial obligations.

What to do Before You Enroll

A credit card hardship program can be helpful, but it may also impact your finances negatively in other ways. Before you decide to enroll, sit down and create a budget.

Take a close look at areas where you might be able to cut back such as your cable bill or your cell phone data plan. By shaving off a few dollars here and there, you might be able to make up for it and pay your card’s monthly minimum without a problem.

If you’ve become ill or injured, consider supplemental insurance that can pay you for time lost at work. Really think about the timeline of your financial hardship and how long you think it will last. This will help you when you call to enroll, as most issuers want to know how long to expect lower payments.

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When You Call

It’s important to note that most customer service reps may not be familiar with their company’s hardship program. When you call, simply ask if they offer one and if you could get some more information.

Some credit card companies will worry as soon as you mention your inability to make payments. Never tell them that you’re “unable to pay,” but instead just ask about the terms and guidelines of the plan.

It could take some time for you to decide whether the plan is worth it, so getting the fine print in your hands is the best way to start. After you’ve read all the documentation, you can submit a hardship letter.

Make sure you clearly and thoroughly explain your situation along with a timeline of how long you’ll need to be enrolled. Make sure you tell them exactly what amount you can reasonably pay each month. This number is key to ensuring you get a fair deal.

Understanding Terms

Once you’ve determined your desired payment and timeline, it’s time to submit your information to the credit card company. Keep in mind that not all issuers will accept your initial request.

Depending on the number, the credit card company may determine that your desired payment is too low. In this case, they’ll either submit a counteroffer with a new payment amount or decline your application.

Always emphasize your willingness and desire to repay your debt. Tell the credit card company you will stick to the timeline and once it’s over, you’ll be able to go back to your normal monthly minimum.

You should also find out if participating in this program will hurt your credit or not. Some companies may allow forgiveness and it won’t impact your score. On the other hand, they may require you to close the account altogether.

If you are forced to close your account, you’ll still need to make the payments or you run the risk of a “ding” on your credit report. If you have to close an account, it will hurt your credit, but it’s still better than being hit for nonpayment and collections.

There is Hope with Hardship Programs

Although it may not seem ideal, a credit card hardship plan can be extremely helpful in times of need. Do your homework and try to find ways you can cut your expenses to save money. As a last resort, these programs can help you maintain your good credit in the short-term.

For more information about writing a hardship letter, be sure to visit our website. 

sample coronavirus letter Header

Sample Coronavirus Hardship Letter

COVID-19 has had an impact on every person’s life. Tragically, many people have lost their lives to the virus. Countless others face the loss of their loved ones, homes, jobs, retirement accounts, and more. For people with upcoming deadlines, it may be a good idea to write a coronavirus hardship letter to ask for an extension.

Thankfully, some companies extended their payment deadlines automatically. Others expect to do the same for customers who request it. Keep reading to learn more about how to write a hardship letter. We’ve also included a sample coronavirus hardship letter below.

Components of a Coronavirus Hardship Letter

The definition of a hardship is malleable according to the institution you’re writing too. However, most institutions understand the widespread effects of the coronavirus. This generally makes it easier to get the message across to the institution you’re writing to.

In fact, the people who read the letter on behalf of the institution are going through the same hardship. The coronavirus hardship letter is unique for this reason. But it still calls for other important factors.

  • First Paragraph

The first paragraph should be short and concise. For example, if you’re requesting a deadline for the next payment due on a loan, state that in two to four sentences. There will be plenty of opportunity to explain yourself more later.

  • Next Two to Four Paragraphs

Now’s the time to explain how the coronavirus has affected your ability to pay the bill or payment on time. Explain the details and include documentation that supports the details you discuss.

In other words, if your employer laid you off, detail the circumstances in your letter. Explain that because of the “Stay at Home” order made by California governor, Gavin Newsom, you’re unable to work.

Although the rest of the story may seem obvious, take the time to spell it out. Include your last pay stub or an unemployment insurance paystub.

Share that you’ve explored other options to avoid making a payment late. Feel free to share what those options were and why they won’t work. It wouldn’t hurt to include that you’re committed to making your payments as agreed, and that the situation is out of your control.

  • Other Items to Include

Finally, be sure to include basic contact information like your name, address, phone number and email address. Also, include your account number and if possible, another piece of identifying information. This can include your birth date or social security number, depending on the agency you’re writing to.

Be Honest and Humble

Although it seems like writing a coronavirus hardship letter is quite humbling, many hardship letters don’t read that way. It can feel natural to blame your employer for laying you off or your bank for charging too much interest. Maybe you can blame your spouse’s employer or the governor of California for making the “stay at home” order, too.

You may be putting all the blame in the right places, but it rubs people the wrong way. After all, the people making the decision on your hardship letter are only people. For that reason, it’s also important to be honest.

An unrealistic story is also likely to rub people the wrong way. There’s no need to exaggerate circumstances around the hardship. That especially applies to hardships centered around coronavirus.

Other Tips for a Coronavirus Hardship Letter

The overall message of a hardship letter needs to be, “There’s no other way.” Institutions don’t want to have to grant hardship letter requests. They want to be your first priority.

But they also understand that life isn’t perfect, nor is it always easy. For that reason, it’s important to paint the picture that there’s no other way to get through this difficult time. As we mentioned above, a coronavirus hardship letter is unique in that way.

That’s because the adversity of coronavirus hardly needs to be explained to anyone. However, you still need to include it in your letter.

Furthermore, exclude information that shines an objectively negative light on you. The institution you’re writing to may decide that you don’t particularly need the help. That is if you spent all your money gambling or couldn’t make any money because you were in jail.

Also, avoid sharing other alternatives for getting the money. For example, don’t mention that your rich father-in-law will give you the money if the letter you’re writing is ineffective. Your institution will likely deny your request and expect you to borrow it from your rich father-in-law instead.

How to Write a Sample Coronavirus Hardship Letter

We’ll include a sample coronavirus hardship letter below. While we encourage you to consider all the points above, write an original letter. Letters from templates or that don’t clearly correspond with your situation will be a turn-off.

Institutions don’t expect you to have a degree from Harvard in writing hardship letters, but it’s good to use basic reading and writing skills. In other words, proofread, spell check, and proofread your letter again.

Coronavirus Hardship Letter Example:



[Name of Bank Contact] [Bank Contact’s Job Title] [Bank Name] [Bank Street Address] [Bank City, State, Zip]


Re:      [Your Name] [Your Address] [Your City, State, Zip] [Your Contact Phone Number] [Your Account Number]


Dear Mr./Mrs. Bank Contact:

I’m writing this letter to ask for a payment [extension/deferment/etc.]. My employer had to lay off everyone in my position because of the coronavirus. A [one/two/three]-month [extension/deferment/etc.] will be enough for me to overcome this hardship and get back onto a regular payment schedule.

As a [job title] at [company name], I’m not an essential worker and therefore, my employer laid me off temporarily. I’m scheduled to return to work after the state governor lifts the “Stay at Home” order.

I tried to get a short-term personal loan, as well as looked for supplemental work among other efforts to earn money. But they haven’t been fruitful. As a last resort, I’m hopeful that you’ll [extend/defer] by next [one/two/three] payments.

I look forward to your prompt response.


[Sign Here in Ink] [Print Your Name] [Your Email Address]


Treatment Center Hardship Letter

Treatment Center Hardship Letter

Have you given up on the idea of ever attending a substance abuse treatment center because of the overwhelming cost? You’re not alone, but there is one secret that most people aren’t aware of. That secret is called a treatment center hardship letter. A hardship letter is one that’s written to the addiction center(s) you select. It asks for help in covering the costs associated with your treatment. Each treatment facility’s funds are limited to what they can provide, either out of their pocket or from state or federal grants.

The granting of hardship letter funds doesn’t guarantee you will receive inpatient or outpatient treatment, nor does it promise completely free treatment. Many times, it only covers a partial payment of your out-of-pocket costs after your insurance is billed. If you don’t have insurance, try sending a hardship letter to request a full or partial scholarship to the facility. It’s also worth noting that facilities don’t extend scholarships or discounts to offset your income if you must miss work. Nor will they help with your monthly household bills. You must come up with a plan to have those bill met while you’re in treatment or consider other options. The good news is that any financial help can get you one step closer to getting help for your addiction!

We’re going to discuss when and how you should write a hardship letter to an addiction treatment center. That is, if you feel it’s the best way forward based on your financial circumstances. We will also give you a template that you may use for this very purpose. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about overcoming any financial cost barriers to treating your addiction!

Why You Might Consider Writing a Treatment Center Hardship Letter

It may seem as though everyone should write a hardship letter to receive discounted or free treatment. However, some specific circumstances receive more positive results than others. These circumstances include, but aren’t limited to when the patient is homeless, has no family to turn to, or if there are children involved.

Additionally, young adults without health insurance may be eligible for reduced rates if their letter conveys a strong desire to get clean or sober. Just remember, it’s important that you’re honest and forthright because you probably only have one chance per treatment center for this letter to work!

Information Your Treatment Center Hardship Letter Should Contain

One of the hardest parts of writing a hardship letter will be setting your pride aside. You will have to be honest about your financial situation, as well as how you’ve gotten there. Not only will you need to talk about your finances, but you’ll also need to discuss your addiction, the negative effects it has on your life, and why you’re ready for help. This does not necessarily mean telling a sob story or trying to make the reader feel bad for you. It’s simply to inform the treatment center of the reasons why you believe you’re eligible for financial help.

What you are trying to do is convey that you’re willing and able to accept some difficult truths about yourself and your addiction. You may want to talk about some of your future goals after treatment, especially if it includes your children. Ultimately, if you you’re not truly ready to get clean and sober, the reader of your letter will likely sense this. You must be ready for a change and commit to doing whatever is necessary. This often means facing loved ones, confronting old hurts and mistakes, and being willing to take suggestions. Some of the best pieces of information to include in your letter are:

  • Your current living situation
  • Drug(s) of choice and how much you’re using
  • Whether or not you have children who are reliant on you as a parent
  • Any possible insurance coverage
  • Potential payments that you can afford
  • Why you need to get clean

Show the treatment team that you’re willing to do whatever is necessary to change your life and get clean!

Don’t Ask for a (Completely) Free Ride

While you may not have all the money you need to pay for your treatment, there are other ways that you might consider “paying.” You may wish to include in your hardship letter that you would like to work out a financial payment plan. This payment plan would be an amount you can afford monthly or weekly beginning during or after you graduate treatment.

Making this offer in your letter shows that you aren’t just looking for an “easy” financial out. Instead, you understand the gravity of your situation. Instead of repaying the treatment center financially, you may also ask if there is work that you can do. They may need help maintaining the grounds or the inside of the treatment center while you’re there. You can also promise to lend a hand upon the completion of your program.

Getting the Answer You Want

Writing a hardship letter doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll receive a full scholarship to a treatment center. You may have to send your letter to several facilities to obtain even one “yes.” One of the hardest parts about knowing who to send your letter to will be finding an addiction treatment center that will consider it.

While there are thousands of treatment centers in the United States, not all of them follow the same hardship help protocols. After you send your letter, you will need to follow up. In fact, for the best probability of positive results, you will need to be persistent. This will also demonstrate to the facility that you’re serious about recovery and are ready to pursue it!

Honesty, Openness, and Willingness

If you’ve been through treatment before, you’ve heard the phrase “honesty, openness, and willingness.” If you’ve never attended a treatment program or participated in support meetings, it is probably new to you. Either way, the first letter of these three words spell out HOW. Each word is practical when it comes to getting and staying clean or sober. You should apply this mantra when writing your hardship letter.

Demonstrate honesty about your addiction and the need for help. You must be open about where your life is and how it got there. Finally, you need to be willing to do whatever it takes to get sober, including owning up to your previous mistakes and confronting your past. If you need further direction, check out the sample treatment center hardship letter below, courtesy of Real Hope Recovery.