Vancity temporarily cuts credit card interest rates to zero percent for those in COVID-induced financial bind

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      Canada's largest credit union has notched another financial-services first.

      Today, Vancity announced that it's temporarily slashing credit card interest rates to zero percent to help those in difficulty as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

      Vancity president and CEO Tamara Vrooman and other staff are seeing the financial impact of the pandemic on members, some of whom have lost their job through no fault of their own.

      “Having access to credit for things like online grocery buying is vital for many families," Vrooman said in a Vancity news release. "Whether it be credit cards or something else, I’d encourage any of our members who are facing financial concerns to contact us. We’re here for you and will work to identify the supports that can help."

      Vancity has also extended a fee waiver from April 30 to September 30 for those who do their banking without visiting a branch. This includes charges for INTERAC e-Transfers and using ATMs.

      In addition, a dedicated telephone banking line has been created for small business members and for those who are 65 years of age and older.

      The credit union has reminded members who've applied for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit that these funds can be directly deposited into their Vancity accounts.

      This announcement came two days after the credit union told the Straight that it had the ability to waive fees, increase limits, and offer other adjustments on a case-by-case basis.

      As of April 6, Vancity had completed 3,898 loan deferrals, including mortgages, for its members. Today, the credit union revealed that 97 percent of its total deferral requests have been granted.

      The Vancouver-based financial institution oversees $28.2 billion in assets and assets under administration.

      Last month, Vancity announced that it had created a one-year, nonredeemable term deposit at a three percent interest rate.

      Funds generated through this "Unity Term Deposit" will be reinvested in the local community.

      Vancity has notched several "firsts" in its history, including:

      * being the first financial institution in Canada to offer open mortgages in 1959;

      * being the first institution to provide mortgages to women without a male co-signer in the early 1960s;

      * introducing the first daily-interest savings account in 1967;

      * offering the first universal-access interbranch banking capability in 1977;

      * offering the first term deposits with a $100 minimum payment in 1980;

      * creating the first socially responsible mutual fund in 1986;

      * becoming the first Canadian financial institution to offer a registered education savings plan in 1988;

      * and being the first to offer a preferred rate for those who purchase a low carbon-emission vehicle in 2003.