Editor’s note: Quorum is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in this article and derives no benefit from these businesses for placement in this article.
The pandemic has made the future uncertain for all Americans, not just those dealing with unemployment or a cut in work hours. Below, we’ve outlined a few ways to put money back in your pocket:
Car Insurance Refunds
Many major insurance companies are giving customers a credit or refund on their premiums for a limited period (typically anywhere from a month to three months between March and May). Some are also waiving late fees and pausing cancellations of policies for nonpayment. Contact your insurance agent or go to your insurer’s website to find out what it’s doing. If your insurance company doesn’t appear to be offering any refunds or discounts, call and ask them. If you’re using your car less because you’re not working, they might just be willing to offer you a deal, even if they aren’t advertising it.
Some videoconferencing services like Zoom have levels that are free. However, you may be able to get advanced videoconferencing services for a time from some providers. For example, Google recently announced that it is offering free access to Google Meet, G Suite and G Suite for Education through the end of Sept. 30 in order to help people stay connected with businesses and schools.
Phone and Internet Service
Many leading service providers are stepping up to help new and current customers. For example, Comcast and Spectrum are offering 60 days of free internet service to families with students and/or low-income families. Some are offering free hot spots where you can get internet service.
Providers are offering special low-cost plans or adding free data to current plans. Companies including Verizon and AT&T are waiving late fees and not canceling service for people who can’t pay their bill. Check your provider’s website or call them to find out what assistance they’re offering customers.
Discounts on Office Supplies (and More)
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to do your job from home, you may need more paper, printer cartridges and other work supplies than you have before. Office supply retailers like Staples, Office Depot and OfficeSupply.com are offering free shipping and delivery (in some cases without a minimum purchase). These retailers can also be a good place to purchase items like tissues, bottled water, coffee and other home essentials while you’re at it.
Check on Your Memberships and Subscriptions
Make sure that you aren’t paying for things you can’t use. For example, if you have a gym membership and your gym is closed for the foreseeable future, check your bank account or credit card activity to be sure that you aren’t continuing to pay monthly fees.
Many gyms are notifying members that they’re freezing dues until they can reopen or extending prepaid annual memberships by the length of the closure. Check their website to find out what they’re doing regarding membership fees if they haven’t already notified you.
If you have a little extra free time, this is a good opportunity to go through your credit card statements in detail. Maybe you have some subscriptions you rarely use. You may find that you’re paying for an online newspaper or subscriptions like music services you’d forgotten you had. Now’s a good time to cancel those or find a less expensive option.
Don’t Forget About Refunds
If you bought tickets to an event like a theater production, concert or ball game that was canceled, find out about the refund policy. Contact whomever you bought the tickets from, whether it was the event venue itself or a company like Ticketmaster. Your ability to get a refund may depend on whether the event is considered “canceled” or “postponed.”
If you had a plane ticket for a flight that was canceled, the good news is that the U.S. Department of Transportation has mandated that airlines offer customers the option of getting a refund on a canceled flight or a flight that had a significant schedule change. You may also opt for a voucher for a flight later.
If your flight hasn’t been canceled, but you don’t feel safe flying or your plans have changed, check with your airline to find out if you can get a refund or reschedule at no charge. For example, United, American and Delta are waiving change fees for a limited time for customers who exchange their tickets for travel at a later date. Don’t forget to contact hotels, tour companies or anyone else you prepaid for reservations as well.
Special Deals for Health Care Professionals and Other Essential Workers
Many businesses are offering discounts and special deals to those who work in health care. A good source to find these deals is RegisteredNursing.org.
Other companies are extending special offers to first responders, including law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics. A good place to find a list of these is Dealhack.
Some companies are extending their special offers to other front-line workers, including teachers, military personnel and even restaurant employees. Find out what businesses in your area are offering discounts for people like you.
We’re all finding our way through this unique time. Look for ways to save money and make sure that you aren’t paying for the things you can’t use. Don’t hesitate to ask–whether it’s for a refund, a discount or a little extra time to pay a bill without penalties. As businesses become aware of their customers’ needs, many will amend their current policies to accommodate them.