Coronavirus News: Best and worst money moves during the pandemic

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Since the COVID-19 pandemic has left so many cash strapped, 7 On Your Side asked industry analyst Ted Rossman to break down the best and worst options when it comes to making ends meet.

The worst money crisis move? Getting a credit card cash advance. It's easy, but it's too easy.

"The problem is they come with really high fees, interest accrues immediately, and there's no grace period," Rossman said. "Average interest is about 25%, and they hit you with another fee 3-5% of the amount being transferred."

Worst money crisis move #2: Borrowing from your 401(k) plan.

It's tempting since it is YOUR money. But you will lose time in the market, and withdrawing early can come at a price.

"It's going to trigger a bunch of penalties in many cases," Rossman said. "So tread carefully."

Instead, he suggests that you lower or suspend retirement contributions temporarily until the crisis is over.

One of his best bets for keeping more of your cash is asking your credit card lender for help.

"They can maybe reschedule your payment date, won't charge interest for skipped payment, lower your interest, and send a code to credit ratings so you won't get a delinquent if you're paying late," he said.

The second best move is to find a 0% interest credit card balance transfer offer.

"I found that a card I had open for a couple of years had a 0% interest for 15 months," Rossman said. "If you can get in the back door that way."

His next tip is to investigate hybrid loans, like the American Express Pay-it Plan-it, Citi Flex Plan, or My Chase Plan, which blend existing debts and turns it into a fixed payment plan.

"It's a way to lower your interest rate and give yourself more predictability, see light at the end of the tunnel," Rossman said.

If you need more help, reach out to your credit lenders and let them know the financial hardship you're facing. They can't help you unless you ask.

Several banks and mortgage companies, even car financing companies, are helping pandemic victims.


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