Unexpected circumstances or financial strains can make it hard to pay your monthly money obligations. There might be an alternative if you are in such a tight spot and your car payments are one of the main reasons you are stressed. Lenders offer assistance for those who are struggling to pay their auto loans through hardship programs.

You may experience financial hardships such as losing your job or a medical emergency. These programs can help you avoid defaulting on your auto loan by offering deferment or forgiveness (that is, avoiding or pausing payments), longer loan terms, lower interest rates, and other assistance.

What’s an auto loan hardship program?

The 2022 financial crisis saw an increase in auto loan defaults after the expiration of certain benefits and aid programs related to coronavirus. It was especially evident among people in their 20s, 30s, and 30s. According to the Federal Reserve Board of New York data, the share of borrowers who are 90 days late on their auto loans has returned back to pre-pandemic levels. This is more than 37% higher than it was in 2021.

Auto loan hardship programs exist even though other options for relief may be gone. These programs are able to give borrowers some breathing space and help them avoid the negative effects on their credit scores, late fees, penalties, and repossession in extreme situations — that can result from missing their car payment payments.

Lenders are incentivized by such programs, because they can collect the amount owed before a borrower defaults, Amy L. Godard (director of loan servicing at Digital Federal Credit Union), said.

She says that if a span class=”_2GMChG HTML3-to_p Hardship programmes] is used, it increases the probability that the borrower will continue to make the loan payments and avoid repossession.”

Not all lenders offer hardship programs. Even those lenders that offer hardship programs, the terms and conditions will vary from one institution to another. These major lenders, for example, offer support to consumers in short-term financial hardships.

  • Alliant Credit Union has its Skip-a–Due-Date Program. This program allows members to skip a monthly payment and offers other assistance programs that offer lower interest rates and payments for qualified consumers

  • Ally Auto Refinance offers flexible payment options, due date modifications, extensions, and modifications to help consumers who are facing financial hardships such as unexpected expenses, income fluctuations, or any other family or household situation.

  • Carmax provides payment arrangements in the form of payment extensions or a due date modification for people who are experiencing short-term hardships, such as a change in employment status or unanticipated medical situations, adverse effects from a natural catastrophe, and other similar circumstances.

  • Carvana is able to help people in need by offering extended loan terms and skipped payments.

  • Chase provides payment extensions and the option to change due dates for people who are having difficulty making their payments on time.

  • Digital Federal Credit Union offers assistance, including skipped payments, extended loan terms, and lower interest rates.

  • PenFed Credit Union offers extended loan terms and skipped payments to qualified consumers.


Other types of financial assistance are available for people who are struggling to pay their bills, such as personal loans, mortgages and credit cards.

How do you qualify for a hardship programme

A consumer’s individual circumstances will determine the type of assistance that a lender offers through its hardship program. LightStream, for instance, will consider hardship payment assistance on an individual basis. Chase also confirmed that advisors will evaluate each consumer’s ability and pay.

Even if your lender has waived hardship program eligibility requirements, you will still need to apply for assistance and be approved. Although the process of enrolling is different, you will need to contact your lender to discuss your eligibility. You can also apply online through your lender’s website.

You may be required to provide documentation during the application process to show your hardship. This could include proof of income, most recent bank statements, proof that you are unemployed, and proof that you can repay.

After you have applied for a hardship loan, your application will go through review. A representative from your lender will contact you to ask additional documentation, to approve or deny your application, and to discuss the best way to help.

This can take up 30 days and you will still be responsible for any payments.

Important points to remember

Hardship programs can help reduce your financial burden and prevent default or repossession. Before you decide to sign up for one, there are some things you should know.

Godard recommends that customers be honest with their lenders about their ability repay a loan.

She says that most hardship programs require a borrower to be able to repay the loan upon completion. “Hardship programs generally require borrowers to be honest with their lenders about their ability to repay the program upon completion. This will allow them to determine which program is best suited for them span>

It is important to fully understand the terms of any program before you sign up.

You should contact your lender immediately if you are having trouble making your monthly car payment.

If your lender isn’t offering assistance, you have other options.