Guide to Australian banks’ emergency Coronavirus relief packages
Monday 16 March 2020
Last Updated: 9.15am, April 2
The social and economic impacts of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are becoming more apparent as the situation evolves daily, if not hourly. To support customers through this time of uncertainty, Australian banks are stepping up with more clearly defined financial relief strategies.
In an official Australian Banking Association (ABA) statement, CEO Anna Bligh said “Banks stand ready to support customers and if anyone is in need of assistance, they shouldn’t wait but come forward as soon as possible.”
ABA members and other players are communicating these financial assistance packages independently, with many announcing changed circumstances for personal and business financial products. They include waiving fees on early term deposit withdrawals, interest rate freezes on loans, options to defer or restructure home loan repayments, and emergency credit card limit increases.
All four of the big banks have committed to some measures - with the most generous helping hands reaching out to business account holders - while smaller lenders are also offering relief for business and consumer customers.
If your ability to work or your business operations have been affected by the virus outbreak, here’s a snapshot of how some major banks could help ease the financial burden. We’ve also found the best way to contact your bank and get the ball rolling for those doing it tough.
The Big 4 Banks
ANZ’s assistance options currently focus on their business and home loan customers, but they’re also ensuring all other retail customers can access all their accounts digitally to support social distancing. Business banking customers can expect:
- A six-month payment deferral on loan repayments for term loans, with interest capitalised
- Temporary increases in overdraft facilities for 12 months
- A 0.25% p.a. decrease in variable interest small business loan rates effective from 27 March, resulting in a 0.50% reduction in March
- A 0.80% p.a. reduction to a new two and three-year fixed rate of 2.59% for secured small business loans up to $1 million, effective 3 April
Home loan customers are being offered:
- Decreased variable interest home loan rates by 0.15% effective from 27 March
- A two-year fixed rate of 2.19% p.a. for owner occupiers paying principal and interest
- Home loan payment deferrals for up to 6 months (reviewed at 3 months)
Get in touch: All customers can get onto ANZ at 13 13 14, and business customers are advised to talk to their relationship manager.
CommBank have extensive options set up for their business customers (with additional loan repayment deferrals, automatic merchant fee waivers, and tailored assistance for larger businesses recently announced). They are also assisting other customers on a case-by-case basis for home loan, credit card and personal loan repayments, including a six-month deferral on home loan repayments, and recently announcing that the bank will make payments to loan customers to offset the interest on interest each month for deferred loans. The bank will also be adding additional resources and extended hours. Other business support includes:
- Deferring repayments and fee waivers for various products (including repayments on business loans and overdrafts for 90 days)
- Waiving merchant terminal fees for 90 days
- Deferring repayments on vehicle and equipment finance loans, and tailoring restructuring options
- Waiving early redraw fees on business term deposit accounts (including Farm Management Deposit accounts)
- Waiving establishment fees and excess interest on temporary excess products
- Offering unsecured loan of up to $250,000 with no establishment or account fees, and no repayments for six months for business with less than $50m turnover.
Get in touch: Call the Business Financial Assistance Team on 13 26 07 or the Financial Assistance Team on 13 30 95 for other account holders.
Like most banks with physical branches, NAB will be ramping up their in-branch cleaning and social distancing measures, and also encouraging more customers to head online or seek remote assistance for their banking needs. NAB has a business customer and home loan holder focus, early on announcing measures to support these customers as tourism and regular spending screeches to a halt and cash-flow hits a wall. The bank has also recently announced reduced minimum monthly repayments and late fee waivers on credit cards.
For business, measures include:
- Deferral of business loan repayments and extension of business loan terms (both up to 3 months), based on individual circumstances
- Support to restructure existing business loans, including equipment finance
- Business credit card deferred repayments.
For homeowners they're offering:
- A six-month home loan repayment pause (with a check-in at three months)
- The option to reduce repayments or make redraws through offset accounts
Get in touch: They suggest business customers experiencing hardship reach out by calling 1300 769 650, while those experiencing personal financial stress ring 1300 683 106.
Westpac home loan customers can access a three-month deferral on their loan, with the option to extend to another three months on a review-basis after that period. There are also special 12-month term deposit rates and reduced fixed home loan rates available from March 27. Business customers at Westpac will have a range of support measures to consider in the wake of Coronavirus, including:
- Access to an unsecured three-year term loan up to $250,000 to all business customers with a turnover of less than $50 million (with a six-month payment-free option)
- Fee-free redraws on loans
- Business loan and credit card repayments deferred by up to 3 months
- Options to extend business loan terms by up to 3 months
- Restructuring and consolidating loans
- Access to term deposit funds without reduction in interest rates
- Overdraft reduction by 200 basis points effective 6 April
- 100 basis point interest rate reduction for small business cash-based loans
- Access to business finance counselling
- Deferral of business loan repayments for six months (interest capitalised) for those with a lending exposure up to $10 million
Get in touch: Check your business or personal eligibility for assistance by ringing 1800 067 497.
Suncorp will be easing the financial strain on customers during the pandemic, offering support measures for all customers, particularly small businesses who have been hit hard by the current working and trading conditions.
Customers have the opportunity to defer scheduled loan repayments, rearrange loans without establishment fees (perhaps moving from principal plus interest on their repayments to solely interest when income is uncertain), and withdraw early from term deposits without fees. Businesses will be able to do the same across various loan products, and will also see a reduction in variable loan rates and small business overdraft and line of credit interest rates. Suncorp has also announced increased interest rates on term deposits (six and 12 months), and lower home loan interest rates.
Get in touch: Give Suncorp a ring on 13 11 55 or have a chat with your relationship manager to see what assistance is available to you.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank
Similarly, this bank group has put an assistance package in place across the nation for small business and agribusinesses, as well as consumer customers.
There’s a central focus on loans, with relief on repaying home loan and business loans for up to three months, and a waiver of fees for restructuring and consolidating loans, as well as Bendigo Bank customers getting a discounted interest rate on new loans. Existing credit card holders can apply for an emergency limit increase, while those looking to withdraw their nest egg early from a term deposit won’t see an interest rate reduction. Repayment on equipment financing will be considered for deferral or extension on a case-by-case basis. The bank has announced addition measures for small and large business and agribusiness customers, including six-month loan deferrals for those with facilities up to $10 million.
Get in touch: Affected customers should contact their local Branch Manager, Business Banker or the Mortgage Help Centre on 1300 652 146 (or on 1300 650 259 for Adelaide Bank customers).
Any banking customers here can apply for assistance if COVID-19 has impacted their financial situation due to illness or inability to work. On a case-by-case basis, Bank of Australia is offering deferrals of scheduled loan repayments , fee waivers, interest-free periods or no interest rate increases, and debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable.
Get in touch: Ring 132 888 to get your finances sorted with Bank of Australia if you're struggling.
Macquarie Bank are going in with a tailored approach across their customer base, offering things like credit card interest rate reductions, special services for those in extreme financial situations, and loan restructuring and reassessment for business clients. They're also the first Aussie bank offering to shield borrowers' credit scores during the COVID-19 crisis, so they aren't negatively affected by loan holidays or missed repayments in the future. They suggest personal banking customers use their banking app for convenience in lodging requests, and investigate the bank’s approach to financial assistance for more detail.
Get in touch: Macquarie has helpfully designated contact numbers for different financial products. These include:
- Home loans on 1300 363 330
- Credit cards on 1800 674 922
- Leasing on 1300 368 908
- Business banking through your relationship manager or on 1800 620 673
ING has a comprehensive assistance page where customer questions around the impact of COVID-19 on loans, savings accounts and financial hardship support are answered. The major measures they’re putting in place include repayment deferrals up to six months for small business customers and a cut of 0.35% p.a. to rates for existing commercial variable loans under $3 million (effective 9 April). Customers with home loans, personal loans and credit cards will be able to pause repayments for three-six months, while ING’s fixed home loan rate for owner occupiers will drop to a record low of 2.09% on a two year term (in conjunction with an Owner Occupier Orange Advantage loan account). The bank has also just announced a dividend suspension on ordinary shares until October 1.
Get in touch: Call ING’s specialist support team on 133 464.
Along with flexible financial hardship support, ME is offering customers affected by COVID-19 a six-month pause on home loan repayments (with a review halfway) and lowered fixed rate interest on one, two and three-year home loans. Other measures to capitalise on savings include an increase in their six and 12-month term deposit rates to 1.80%, as well as three months (March-May) of guaranteed bonus interest for online savers who have qualified for the interest bump in any of the last three months (December-February).
Get in touch: Chat with the ME financial hardship team on 13 15 63.
What if my bank isn’t on this list?
Not every institution will have a specific COVID-19 financial assistance package or initiative prepared, and we aren't necessarily able to detail all of those that do. However, most will have standard policies for providing support during financial hardship caused by illness, injury or other scenarios impacting customers’ ability to work. Start with the ABA’s financial difficulty page. It provides overarching information and relevant contacts and links to the association’s 22 member banks. If you’re not banking with an ABA member, seek out your bank’s customer assistance phone numbers or recent announcements about their approach to Coronavirus.
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