NEW YORK (MainStreet) For a monthly fee, some credit card issuers offer provisions that defer payments for card holders who experience job loss, illness or disability while others pay off some credit card balances in the event of death.
"This is not an insurance program or health care program that pays benefits directly to the customer," said Carla Cargle, financial advisor with Genesis One Wealth Builders in Sugarland, Texas. "Benefits are payable to the balance of the card holder's account."
Although provisions may have slight variations, debt cancellation or balance payment protector programs typically cost 1% or less of the card balance for two years of deferred monthly payments.
"The difference between the two is that the balance payment protector program pays the minimum balance owed for a specified period of time and once that time has expired, the cardholder is then required to resume payments," Cargle said. "In a debt cancellation program, the issuer or bank will pay off the balance rather than make minimum payments."
Information and enrollment in these programs can be obtained by calling the customer service number on the back of a credit card and requesting a copy of the terms and agreement.
"General feedback is not to use these types of programs because they typically only pay minimums and are not helpful with any accumulating interest and increased balances," said financial attorney Leslie Tayne.
Some issuers are even eliminating the perk.
Chase announced it was ceasing its payment protector plan on May 31, 2014, leaving some card holders in a bind.
In a statement released this past May, Chase spokesman Paul Hartwick said that to ease the transition, customers were provided with 12 months of the plan at no cost. "We believe one year's notice and 12 months of fee-free coverage gives customers time to evaluate their options and make any decisions based on their individual needs," Hartwick said. "An alternative to these programs is an actual life insurance policy."