Sometimes it's not enough to reduce your outgoings or increase your income and you might need to approach your lender for help. Australians are able to claim financial hardship assistance from their bank or other lender/card issuer if they hit hard times. It's always difficult to ask for debt help, but you'll probably find that your lender is understanding.

Banks and other lenders have a hardship scheme and will be able to offer you help and advice so that you get your finances back on track. This is a requirement under responsible lending obligations of the National Consumer Credit Protection Act of 2009.

You might be eligible for a repayment holiday, especially if you can demonstrate how it will help you to get back on your feet. If your financial constraints are due to a short-lived issue, such as an injury or a new baby, then many lenders will be happy to approve a break. In the case of a repayment break you will also need to consider the impact on your credit history, and the fact that interest likely keeps accruing, leaving you owing more and taking longer to pay off the debt in the long run.

There are eligibility requirements and you need to be able to show that you can't pay your current debts while meeting your living expenses. 

Key organisations and helplines

  • National Debt Help Hotline: 1800 007 007
  • Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA): 1800 931 678
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14

The above numbers are free to call.

You can lodge a complaint with the financial ombudsman (AFCA) if your bank or lender does not assist you in dealing with financial hardship.

CommBank financial hardship contact

Commonwealth Bank's financial difficulty assistance can be applied for through Netbank, email or via phone.

Westpac financial hardship contact

Westpac's financial hardship assistance can be applied for online at the Westpac website or via phone.

NAB financial hardship contact

National Australia Bank's financial hardship assistance can be applied for online at the NAB website or via phone.

ANZ financial hardship contact

ANZ Bank's financial hardship assistance can be applied for online at the ANZ website or via phone.

Other institutions' financial hardship assistance contact information

Institution Phone Numbers
Macquarie Bank

1300 363 330 (Home Loans)

1800 674 922 (Credit Cards)

ING Bank 1300 349 166
Bendigo Bank 1300 652 146
Suncorp Bank 1800 225 223
Bank of Queensland 1800 079 866
HSBC 1300 555 988
American Express (AMEX) 1300 860 562
Latitude  1800 220 718

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