Break to bank on: Deferred car payments

Some financially stressed consumers, moaning "give me a break," are getting an answer to their pleas.

Nevada State Bank is giving customers an opportunity to defer payments on auto loans, unsecured personal loans and secured personal loans for 90 days.

Bank of America, which leads the industry in total deposits for Nevada, similarly is offering programs designed to help consumers who have lost their jobs.

Bank of America's Consumer Assistance Program will waive bank account maintenance fees of $5.95 to $20 monthly for three months and the $39 fee on checks that bounce for insufficient funds if the customer lost his job. To be eligible, a customer must sign up for online banking where the customer can watch his account balance more carefully, said DeLois Hollinger, consumer market executive for Greater Las Vegas.

The banking giant says it has modified credit card accounts for 1 million customers around the nation since the beginning of last year, typically either allowing customers to delay payments, get lower interest rates or lower their monthly bill, Hollinger said.

Bank of America has modified 343,000 home mortgages around the country since the start of 2008, including 113,000 in the first three months of this year, spokeswoman Britney Sheehan said. The modifications include reduction of interest rates, longer periods for repayment with lower monthly bills, and deferral of payments.

Nevada State Bank will allow consumers to defer payments on loans for three months if their loan is current and they pay a $25 fee, spokeswoman Sandi Milton said.

Interest will continue to accrue, and the customers' loan term will be extended for 90 days to recover the delayed payments. Nevada State will not report the deferrals to credit rating agencies. The program does not apply to credit cards or business loans, but it includes auto loans, recreational vehicle loans and mobile home loans.

"We know that some consumers need just a little relief to gain footing on their financial commitments," CEO Dallas Haun said in statement.

Under a companion program, the bank is allowing consumers who sign up for home equity lines of credit to pay a minimum of $50 monthly at 0.25 percent interest for three months. Customers with existing home equity lines of credit are not eligible for this program. The lowest rates available under existing home equity lines is 4.25 percent.

Contact reporter John G. Edwards at or 702-383-0420.