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Here's what Citi is doing for coronavirus assistance

Citi was one of the first card issuers to offer temporary relief for its cardholders amid the coronavirus pandemic. American Express and Apple recently made similar announcements.

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Credit card issuers are continuing to expand their support for customers facing financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. Citi is just one of the many card issuers, along with American ExpressApple, Bank of AmericaCapital OneChase and Discover, that have been announcing emergency support within the past week.

Citi has a webpage dedicated to coronavirus updates and resources for their customers. The site states that eligible Citi credit card customers can receive credit line increases and collection forbearance programs. So if you have the Citi® Double Cash Card or Citi Simplicity® Card, you may be able to ask for a larger line of credit or the ability to temporarily pause minimum payments (which is a common feature of forbearance programs).

Keep in mind that you typically have to wait six months between credit limit increase requests with Citi cards, and these standards still hold despite the crisis.

While researching this story, I spoke with a Citi representative to ask for a credit limit increase, and I was denied since I have already asked for one within the last six months — even after I cited coronavirus concerns.

Update April 7: Citi expands assistance to include late fee waivers and deferral of minimum payments for two months. Coronavirus relief options are also extended until May 8, 2020 and Citi will continue to monitor the situation to determine if assistance should be further extended or expanded. Citi credit cardholders can also now submit a request for assistance online after logging in.

How to contact Citi customer service

You can speak to a Citi representative over the phone, via chat or through an online request. When I chatted with a Citi customer service representative through the Citi mobile app, they replied 25 minutes later and stated that Citi is "here to help during this difficult time" and willing to "work on this together to get it resolved."

I was directed to Citi's specialist team that could help with possible solutions to my financial concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The representative told me to call 1-800-950-5114 (TTY/TDD: 1-800-325-2865) to speak to a specialist 24/7.

When I called, I was warned of extremely high call volumes and wait times, which didn't come as a surprise.

In order to expedite your wait time and get you to a Citi specialist as soon as possible, have this information ready:

  • Your credit card number
  • Reason for your call
  • Account security code

When you call Citi, this is the order of the prompts:

  1. State the last four digits of your credit card number
  2. Review or skip your latest balance and payment information
  3. State the reason for your call — I said "coronavirus concerns"
  4. Provide your account security code

I was told that my estimated wait time was seven minutes, but it winded up being nearly an hour.

Once you reach a specialist, discuss any financial concerns that may apply, such as a recent layoff or reduction in working hours that reduces your income and ability to pay on time. The specialist can help discuss available options to assist you during this time.

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Information about the Citi Simplicity® Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.