SUMMARY

With so many people out of work or experiencing pay or hour cuts due to the Coronavirus pandemic, bills are starting to pile up. The best thing you can do about them is to contact your providers and ask them to help out. We’ve compiled a guide of who is offering what and the best way to get in touch.

If you’re worried about getting your service cut off, take a breath. Every major internet and phone provider in the country has signed the FCC’s “Keeping Americans Connected” Pledge. That guarantees that they will do three things for 60 days:

1. not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;

2. waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and

3.open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

However, most are not doing these automatically. You must contact them in order to get late fees waived or avoid disconnects.

Whether you’re economically struggling right now or not, the best thing you can do is prepare by negotiating your bills. Even with service disconnects suspended, you’ll still owe the remaining balance as soon as this ends.

Here’s our guide to negotiating your own bills:

The Ultimate Guide to Negotiating Your Bills
We’ve compiled everything you need to negotiate with your provider.

Or click “The Easy Way” to have an expert negotiator at BillFixers find you a discount and take care of your bills for you. We’ll split any savings we negotiate 50/50.

Internet/Cable Providers

Comcast Xfinity

Late Fees Waived: Yes
Disconnects Suspended: Yes
New Low Income Customers: 60 days free on Internet Essentials, if you are low income don’t already have service.

Phone Number: 800-266-2278

Additional Info:
No unlimited data overages from March 13 – May 13, 2020. Unlimited data plan will be automatically credited during that period.

Internet Essentials speeds have been upgraded from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps

More Information

Spectrum (Charter/Time Warner/Brighthouse)

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but may require contact)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but may require contact)
New Low Income Customers: 60 days free if you there is a student or teacher in the household and you don’t already have service.

Phone Number: 888-615-0301

Additional Info:
More Information

AT&T Internet/DirecTV

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but may require contact)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but may require contact)
New Low Income Customers: 60 days free if you there is a student or teacher in the household and you don’t already have service.

Phone Number: 888-615-0301

Additional Info:
More Information

Verizon Internet

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but requires you to submit a form)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but requires you to submit a form)

Phone Number: 888-910-4366

Additional Info:
If you already had Lifeline, Verizon’s low-income offering, they are waiving 60 days of bills. New bills will continue to be sent, but they will be credited after two billing cycles. This only applies to households that had Lifeline before 3/20/2020.

More Information

CenturyLink

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but requires you to contact)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but must contact if you are pre-paid)

Phone Number: 888-218-0467

Additional Info:
Data usage limited suspended.

More Information

Cox

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but may have to contact)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but may have to contact)
New Low Income Customers: 60 days free on Connect2Compete for low-income households, then $9.95.

Phone Number: 800-234-3993

Additional Information
Speed upgrades for Starter, Essential, StraightUp Internet, and Connect2Compete to 50Mbps though May 15.

Data overage fees suspended.

More Information

Optimum/Altice

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but must contact)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but must contact)
New Low Income Customers: 60 days free on Altice Advantage for low-income households, then $9.95.

Phone Number: 888-276-5255

Additional Information

More Information

Frontier

Late Fees Waived: Yes — no guidance online, must contact.
Disconnects Suspended: Yes — no guidance online, must contact.


Phone Number: 800-921-8101

Mediacom

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but must call)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but must call)

Phone Number: 866-755-2225

Additional Information
Data caps suspended.
More Information

TDS

Late Fees Waived: Yes
Disconnects Suspended: Yes
New Customers: First 60 days of internet are free.

Phone Number: 855-821-9019

Additional Information
No data cap overages
More Information

Windstream

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but must call)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but must call)

Phone Number: 800-347-1991

Additional Information
More Information

Wireless/Cell Phone Providers

T-Mobile

Phone Number: 800-937-8997

As of March 13, 2020, who have legacy plans without unlimited high-speed data will get unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming).

Starting March 20, 2020, providing T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers on smartphone plans with hotspot data an additional 20GB of smartphone mobile hotspot (10GB per bill cycle for the next 60 days) for each voice line. (T-Mobile Connect excluded)

Lifeline partners to provide customers extra free data up to 5GB of data per month through May 13, 2020

Increasing the data allowance for free to schools and students using our EmpowerED digital learning programs to ensure each participant has access to at least 20GB of data per month through May 13, 2020

Free international calling for ALL current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers to landline (and in many cases mobile) numbers in many severely impacted countries.

Verizon Wireless

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but requires you to submit a form)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but requires you to submit a form)

Phone Number: 800-922-0204

Free international long distance calling to many countries impacted by COVID-19. This offer includes wireless customers on both prepaid and postpaid plans

  • Postpaid plans
  • Effective 3/18/20 to 4/30/20
  • Unlimited calls to mobile and landline phones in listed countries
  • Exception: A total of 300 minutes of free calling provided for certain countries (e.g., Iran, Latvia, Russia, etc.) as shown on the countries list.
  • Prepaid plans
  • Effective 3/19/20 to 4/30/20
  • 300 additional minutes to call mobile and landline phones in listed countries

15 GB of hotspot data across nearly all of our plans, to be used between 03/25/2020 and 04/30/2020

15 GB of 4G LTE data will be added to your plan’s existing 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot allotment (most unlimited plans include 15GB or 20GB of 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot data standard)

AT&T Wireless

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but requires you to submit a form)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes

Phone Number: 800-331-0500

Additional Information

Double hotspot data (15GB + 15GB Free)
More Information

Sprint

Late Fees Waived: Yes (but may require contact)
Disconnects Suspended: Yes (but may require contact)

Phone Number: 800-369-5400

Additional Information

Unlimited data for 60 days to customers with metered data plans.
20GB of free mobile hotspot data.
Waiving per-minute toll charges for international long distance calls from the U.S. to certain countries.
More Information

Bill Negotiation
If you’re looking to save money on your tv, internet, or phone bills, try having your bills negotiated. You don’t have to wait on hold or stress.

Other Bills

Our expertise is negotiating your TV, internet, and phone bills. While we can help with a wide variety of other bills, ranging from home security to satellite radio, there are some things we either can’t or don’t negotiate.

Since we’re not experts on them, we can offer full advice on the best things to do. This is probably a good time to make sure to mention that we’re not financial advisors or anything like that and this isn’t legal, financial, or tax advice. But here are our best suggestions as people with bills ourselves:  

Mortgages

The CARES act put in place a couple of protections for homeowners, as long as their mortgages are federally backed. If yours is, there’s currently a suspension on foreclosures and there are options to reduce or suspend payments. If not, you aren’t necessarily protected. Various banks have issued various statements about this, but the best thing you can do is look up yours individually and contact them to find out what they can do.

If you have the resources, it also may be a good time to look at refinancing your mortgage. With emergency measures from the Fed, mortgage rates are likely to drop. However, most mortgage applications consider your income, so if you are out of work, you may be rejected.

Here’s a good resource on what to do about your mortgage from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Just Shelter is also a great resource for information on local legal aid, housing assistance, and tenant rights resources.

Rent

If you didn’t make rent this month, or you think you won’t be able to next month, you’re not alone. Nearly a third of renters in the US didn’t make their rent payment the first week of April.

The good news is that almost all states have suspended evictions temporarily. Some states and cities have even suspended late fees as well. However, not all have. Here’s a great resource on eviction protections with updated information state by state.

Talk to your landlord or property management company. Almost all will already considered some sort of policy for this. They may be able to work with you to lower or waive your rent, but either way it’s better to have an open line of communication.  If they are being unhelpful or punitive, you can reach out to other tenants to discuss the possibility of a rent strike. If you don’t know where to start, consider Just Shelter for information on local legal aid, housing assistance, and tenant rights resources.

Insurance

There’s some good news when it comes to car insurance. Because you’re driving less, several insurers are reducing premiums or issuing credits, including State Farms, USAA, Liberty Mutual, and Allstate.

Regardless of whether your car insurer reduced your premium or not, contact them and consider revising your policy. Most auto policies are written assuming a certain number of miles driven per month, generally because of work commute. With your mileage way down for the foreseeable future, you may be able to get a new, lower quote.

It also may be a good time to consider looking at quotes from other insurers. We have a partnership with Gabi who are the best we were able to find at doing this. They have about 20 different providers to compare between and save hundreds of dollars annually. Heads up, we do get paid if you get a quote from them, so full disclosure, but genuinely they were the best way of doing it we could find. If you’re interested, you can check that out at their website.

Other types of insurance are trickier. Home owners and renters insurance may work with you to temporarily suspend payments if you contact them.

If you’ve been laid off and lost your company health insurance, you’ll have to either get new insurance through the exchange or retain your insurance via COBRA. Generally, losing health coverage qualifies as a special enrollment period to get new health insurance. As a word of warning, the current reports are that health insurance costs are expected to increase substantially next year. Contact your provider now and see if there is anything they can do to bring down your premiums.

Utilities

Most states have passed temporary moratoriums on certain utility shutoffs due to non-payment. Some have even expanded programs that provide assistance with paying the bill. These are better, where they’re available, because you will come out of the crisis without a large overdue balance.

However, the texts of the orders vary wildly. It’s worth noting that in many cases, this is not automatic. You need to reach out to your electric, gas, and water providers to let them know payment will be an issue. If you haven’t heard from them about a universal moratorium or suspension, contact them directly. That NOLO resource is good for finding state level information on shut-offs.

Student Loans

Federal student loans are currently suspended through September 30th. The interest rate during this time is 0%. You don’t need to contact your servicer—that happened automatically. That’s all good news. Here are some extra details from the CFPB.

The bad news is that those rules don’t apply to privately held student loans. However, some borrowers are choosing to copy them or to offer options. However, you need to contact your student loan servicer if that’s the case. If they haven’t told you that your loans are suspended, they likely are not.

Credit Cards

Very few credit card companies or banks have laid out blanket assistance plans. However, almost all are saying various meaningless states of “contact us if you’re experiencing hardship.”

That’s probably the best thing you can do. Here’s a helpful resource breaking down many major companies.

Credit card rates can be negotiable. Credit card debt can also be negotiable, although it generally requires a lump sum payment. While we don’t negotiate them at BillFixers, it can be worth a try doing it yourself.

Car Loans

Car payments are looking more likely to offer temporary suspensions of interest payments. However, most of these come with pre-conditions. For one, you have to contact your loan servicer to qualify and for another, many of them won’t qualify you if you were already behind.

Again, though, the advice across the board is to reach out and contact them. Here’s a list of some of the larger car payment providers and how to get in touch.

Taxes

The good news is that for most consumers, the deadlines to both file and pay federal income taxes have been postponed. The new date is July 15, 2020. So, unless you had an outstanding debt to the IRS, you don’t have to worry about your federal income taxes.

However, the same is not necessarily true for state and local taxes. Here is a good resource for state by state tax adjustments. Since there are so many different places with local property taxes, we couldn’t find a good universal source. Check the website of your local government. If you have property taxes due, contact them.

Other

If you’ve read this whole article, there’s a universal theme: contact, contact, contact. Very few people who you owe money to are going to waive that debt without speaking to you first. However, many of them have already established plans for people who contact them and are having financial hardship. Whether it’s a gym or a streaming service, if you have the time, it is worth contacting any provider. Ask them if they have programs available.

BillFixers can negotiate a wide variety of bills. While we can’t negotiate things like debt or rent, for legal reasons, we’d love to help with your tv, internet, and phone bills. When you sign up, check our list of eligible providers. That includes things like home security or satellite radio that may not be essential, and therefore may not be offering payment suspensions, but could be an important thread keeping you sane. If there’s anything we can do to help, please reach out to us.

Ben Kurland is one of the Co-Founders of BillFixers.