Puerto Rico banks announce relief to loan and credit card payments
SAN JUAN — Since the aftermath of Hurricane María has left many people without cash or work due to the temporary closure of some companies, Puerto Rico’s banks are offering moratoriums for different types of loan payments.
In some cases, the moratorium is automatic, but in others, hurricane victims must request it. Below, a summary of the island’s main banking institutions.
FirstBank announced a three months moratorium for auto loans and leases, personal loans and credit cards.
“We extend our help so that together we can move forward, firm, united and with the certainty of seeing all Puerto Rico rise. We will continue integrating more ways to help you,” the company announced on its website.
Due to the devastation caused by María, many companies have not been able to make their payroll payments, while others have ceased their operations, leaving their employees unable to work because their facilities have suffered destruction or do not have electricity to function.
In order to assist their customers, Banco Santander announced moratorium programs, even for their mortgage loans.
“Interested customers can contact one of our service representatives in the area of Billings by calling (787) 625-2858 for mortgage loans, (787) 522-7483 for bank cards and (787) 625-6529 for personal loans. This way, we can offer solutions that are tempered to the financial situation of our customers,” Caribbean Business learned from Charmaine Llauger, director of Banco Santander’s Corporate Communication, Marketing and Customer Experience.
Meanwhile, Scotiabank announced that it will offer a three-month moratorium on all car products, leases, personal loans, credit cards and Scotialines. If the client made the payment in September, they will only have a two-month moratorium, but if he has not done so already, the moratorium extends until December.
As for mortgage loans, Scotiabank reported that they can request an extension of payment of up to three months in the open branches or offices located in the Mortgage Center at Jesús T. Piñero Avenue in Hato Rey.
Small businesses, on the other hand, will be entitled to a three-month moratorium on the principal portion of their monthly payment after the application is evaluated and then submitted at any available branch of the bank.
Meanwhile, Oriental Bank announced a three-month moratorium on auto, personal and credit card loans but only to customers whose payments were up to Aug. 31. At the end of the three months, the clients benefiting from the moratorium would have to pay both interest and principal corresponding to the maturity of the loan. It was clarified that the moratorium will not impact the client’s credit history.
Regarding the moratorium on mortgage loans, Oriental Bank reported that an extension of up to three months will be given according to the needs of the client, but these must first be communicated to (787) 620-0000 for the corresponding evaluation.
Banco Popular announced that it will not charge late payment penalties to its customers. The moratorium will apply to personal loans, auto loans, mortgages and credit cards from Sept. 18 to Dec. 31 this year. In addition, collection procedures, including foreclosures during the emergency period, will be suspended.
At the end of this period, in January 2018, if the customer can’t update his loan, they will have the option of a payment plan or they may be evaluated for other alternatives according to their type of loan and their circumstances at that time.
In most banks, however, the loan term would be extended by the time of the moratorium.
Moratoriums in cooperatives
As regulator of the island’s 118 savings and credit cooperatives, the Cooperatives Supervision & Insurance Corp. (Cossec by its Spanish acronym) authorized a moratorium to their associates with a minimum 30 days and a maximum 90 days.
“We urge them all to apply the moratorium to give people relief in the midst of the emergency situation,” said Ivelisse Torres, president of Cossec’s Board of Directors.
In addition to the moratorium that banks offer on their respective credit cards–mostly under the Visa or Mastercard brands–credit card companies are offering their own grants to Puerto Rico.
A Discover Card official informed that its customers in Puerto Rico impacted by Hurricane María, must contact the firm to examine available options, but declined to comment if customers will be provided any automatic indulgence regarding surcharges or payments. A MasterCard official echoed the official’s sentiments.
Visa submitted a list of businesses in Puerto Rico that accept the card to help clients. “Our thoughts are with the people recently affected by the hurricane. At Visa we are committed to assisting with recovery actions, including providing information regarding businesses located in areas affected by the hurricane that have accepted Visa payments in recent days,” the company said on its website.
The American Express offices in Guaynabo did not answer calls made by Caribbean Business. However, the Amex Global Offices portal does not show that Hurricane María victims are being offered aid, even though the firm did offer help to clients affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.