As the government shutdown drags into its 17th day, banks and credit unions are offering accommodations to federal workers who’ve seen their paychecks stop.
Some 420,000 employees are considered “essential,” and are working without pay, while another 380,000 have been ordered to stay home, according to calculations provided to CNBC by Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University.
The shutdown’s reach also fans out to some 4 million contractors for the federal government, many of whom are unlikely to be included in any legislation Congress passes to make sure federal workers are compensated for the period the government was closed.
In the meantime, credit unions across the country have stepped up to help with some of the more generous offers for affected government employees.
Launch Federal Credit Union is issuing zero-percent interest rate loans of up to $3,000 to employees of the federal government. Navy Federal Credit Union is doing the same, but up to $6,000. For more information, check out its frequently asked questions page.
The U.S. Employees Credit Union is providing interest-free loans to impacted members for 60 days, regardless of their credit score.
Justice Federal Credit Union is offering unsecured, low interest rate loans to any impacted workers at the Department of Justice or Department of Homeland Security.
Credit union FedChoice will waive early-withdrawal fees on some certificates of deposit and issue short-term loans with interest rates as low as 2.50 percent. Among other requirements, you’ll need to provide evidence of your furloughed status.
Banks also have special offers for government workers.
Provident Bank in New Jersey recently announced that it will cancel mortgage and credit card late fees for federal workers, and allow them to break their certificates of deposit early without any penalties.
Huntington, a bank based in Columbus, Ohio, with some 960 branches across the Midwest, is offering a “low rate, quick loan program” for customers who are federal employees.
Tom Goyda, a spokesman for Wells-Fargo, said the bank is not offering any special loans for impacted customers. However, it will reverse monthly service and overdraft fees for those who are employed by a closed government agency.
“If the shutdown goes on, we will continue to review how we are working with customers whose incomes are impacted and make changes to ensure that we are providing them with the most appropriate assistance,” Goyda said.
Chase is also waiving these fees for government employees who have direct-deposit set up. Credit card and mortgage late charges might also be dropped.
“Under certain scenarios for longer-term customers who consistently pay off their credit card balances in full, Chase could even consider reversing interest charges if they miss a paycheck,” said Patricia Wexler, a spokeswoman for the bank.
Nami Baral, the CEO of Harvest, a start-up that uses artificial intelligence to negotiate bank fees, will make its service available to federal workers for free until the government reopens. (Normally, the company gets 25 percent of any reimbursed charges).
“Even when consumers’ paychecks are delayed by a few days, they can rack up hundreds of dollars in overdrafts and late fees,” Baral said.
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