Ask your credit card company for help after a hurricane

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If Hurricane Isaac damaged or destroyed your home, you have far bigger concerns to deal with than paying your credit card bills on time.

But will your credit card companies understand the situation and give you some leeway?

In some situations, yes.

In the months after Hurricane Katrina, for instance, many credit card providers, including American Express, Bank of America and Visa, offered specialized services to provide relief to cardholders in affected areas.

If you’ve been forced to vacate your house due to a weather emergency, call your credit card companies and ask if they can offer you any of these emergency-induced benefits:

A moratorium on late fees. In Katrina’s wake, many credit card providers waived late fees on payments for three to six months.

After all, if your house is 10 feet under water, it can be pretty tough to pay the bills on time.

An emergency credit limit increase. After a natural disaster hits, your charge card will be seeing a lot of action as the expenses for hotels, meals out, home repairs and other necessities add up.

Some credit card providers will automatically offer credit limit increases to victims of natural disasters: Post-Katrina, American Express upped its customers’ limits by $1,000.

Others may provide such credit limit increases on request, assuming your credit history is good.

Lowered interest rates. Even credit card issuers have hearts, and they know that a natural disaster is no time to get greedy.

Although providers don’t offer blanket interest rate decreases, many banks have encouraged customers who’ve been affected by a storm, tornado, earthquake or another natural disaster to contact their local branches to request lowered interest rates and any other accommodations they need.

Even if a state of emergency hasn’t been declared in your region, you may still be eligible for disaster relief if the weather event has damaged your home or made it impossible for you to complete your normal daily activities.

Call your credit card providers to explain the particulars of your situation: If you’re a customer in good standing, they’ll likely be willing to provide whatever concessions you need.

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