Banks extend fee waivers for storm-hit customers

AP News

11/4/2012 7:50:21 PM - AP News

Some of the nation's biggest banks have extended temporary waivers on a variety of fees and late charges for residents of states hit hard by Superstorm Sandy.

It's an effort to ease pressure on customers to make bill payments when nearly 1.8 million homes and businesses remain without power across a swath of states.

The banks themselves still face power outages, forcing the shutdown of dozens of branches and ATMs.

JPMorgan Chase Inc. said automatic refunds of certain fees for those living in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and the District of Columbia were extended until the end of business Nov. 7.

The extension applies to overdraft protection transfer, extended overdraft, returned item and insufficient funds fees, and late fees on credit cards, business and consumer loans, including mortgages, home-equity, auto and student loans.

Chase mortgage customers in those states may be able to get a 90-day moratorium on making mortgage payments. Customers should call 888-356-0023 and choose option 1 for mortgage to learn more.

Chase said about 87 percent of its total branch and ATM network in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metro area had power restored.

Citigroup Inc. likewise extended until Nov. 7 fee waivers for overdraft protection, non-sufficient funds, late payments on credit products, early CD withdrawal and wiring funds to affected Citi customers. Citi mortgage customers should call 800-283-7918 to inquire about payment options.

The New York-based bank said more than 80 percent of its branches and ATMs were back in service.

Nov. 7 is also the date for extensions at Wells Fargo & Co. on fees it normally charges its customers for using another bank's ATMs. Wells Fargo will also allow customers with CDs to withdraw funds from these accounts without incurring an early withdrawal penalty. These fee waiver extensions are available in the storm-affected states of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Additionally, Wells Fargo is continuing to waive late fees on credit cards, certain small business and consumer loans, including home-equity, auto and student loans until Nov 7. This waiver also applies to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Wells Fargo said 86 percent of its ATMs in the storm-affected states were back in service and 80 percent of bank branches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania had reopened.

Customers of PNC Financial Services Inc. will waive overdraft fees until the end of business Nov. 7 in New York City, New Jersey, northeastern Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Customers in those areas have until the close of business on Nov. 8 to bring accounts that were overdrawn current.

Customers in central Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Washington D.C. have until the end of the day Nov. 5 to avoid fees.

PNC mortgage and home equity loan customers should call 800-822-5626 to learn about late fee waivers. Student loan customers should call 800-762-1001. Credit card and consumer loan customers should call 888-762-2265. Small business loan customers should call 855-762-2365.

ATM usage is free at non-PNC machines through Nov. 7 for the all of the affected areas. PNC did not say how many branches were still closed due to the storm.

Bank of America Inc. said more than 85 its percent of its branches and ATMs were open in the affected areas.

The bank said customers affected by the storm and floods in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia and the District of Columbia will automatically receive a refund on overdraft, insufficient funds and non-Bank of America ATM fees incurred as a result of storm conditions through Nov. 5.

Credit card cash advance fees and late payment fees on credit cards and some consumer and small business loans, including home equity, auto and personal loans, will also be waived.

Also, customers may qualify to receive credit line increases on their existing Bank of America Visa card and MasterCard; modify or extend payments on loans, credit cards or lines of credit; receive special assistance with lost, missing or late loan or card payments; and avoid early withdrawal penalties on bank certificates of deposit.

The bank has set up a hotline for customers impacted by the storm at 855-729-1764. Customers can use this number to request credit line increases on existing Bank of America cards or modified or extended payments on loans, credit cards and lines of credit.

HSBC said customers should call 800-975-4722 to find out about reversing fees generated as a result of the storm. The bank listed dozens of branches that remained out of service as of Saturday on its website, but had not updated the list on Sunday.