Companies Offering Aid During COVID-19
The year 2020 sent the world into an uncertain spin. There were earthquakes, locusts, possible pending financial crises, and, of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Medical and hygiene supplies are still somewhat scarce, and some workers won’t be getting paychecks for a while.
But there are bright spots in this bleak situation. Many companies and organizations are reaching out with deals, fee postponements, and complimentary services. Let’s take a look at the resources available to US (and even some Canadian) residents* during the novel coronavirus outbreak.
*Some of the resources we mention, especially online virtual resources, may be available outside the United States or Canada.
Mobile and wireless providers
The big four networks (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile)
Some of the biggest cell phone providers—AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile—are taking the following steps in the US and Canada:
- They won’t terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
- They will waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic.
- They will open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
The providers say these resources will be in place for at least the next 60 days (starting March 14th).¹ However, they want you to be proactive. They need to know from you that you’re unable to pay your bills before payment is due. Otherwise, they’ll terminate service as usual.
Like the big four networks, Mint Mobile (which is partly owned by Ryan Reynolds) is offering free unlimited data through April 14th.²
All five companies say these benefits are available to both new and existing customers.
A slew of internet providers want to serve you during social distancing. Let’s break their offers down.
Over in AT&T land, all customers can enjoy the following:
- Free Wi-Fi hotspots
- Unlimited data for all plans
- No disconnects or late fees³
If you live on the east coast, you might be an Atlantic Broadband customer. And if you’re an Atlantic Broadband customer, you get waived late fees and no service disconnects for the foreseeable future. This offer is good for both residential and small business customers.⁴
Cox is also coming in hot with some pandemic assistance. Cox is offering the following:
- One free month of Connect2Compete low-income plan
- Discounted refurbished equipment through PCs for People
- Learn from Home tool kit for schools⁶
- Temporarily boosted speeds for Starter, Connect2Compete, and StraightUp Internet plans (50 Mbps), plus $19.99/mo. offer for new Starter customers
- Essential plan boosted to 50 Mbps permanently
- Unlimited data, credits for those with data add-on packages
- Free Wi-Fi hotspots
- Waived late fees and disconnects⁷
The free month is for new customers only and is available until May 15th. All the other benefits will be extended to new and existing customers for 60 days.
For our friends up north, Shaw Communications is opening up its Go Wi-Fi Network Hotspots for the rest of the pandemic.⁸ You just have to be a new or existing customer.
Spectrum’s offering is unique and useful. If you’re part of a low-income family with a student in school, you can get free internet and even equipment.⁹ Happily, Spectrum’s definition of “school” is extremely broad: it ranges from kindergarten to college.
This offer is good for new customers and lasts for 60 days after signing up.
Residential and small business Viasat customers affected by the novel coronavirus will receive the following:
- No service disconnects for nonpayment
- Waived late fees
- Open Wi-Fi hotspots¹⁰
Like other companies we’ve discussed, Viasat’s offering these benefits for 60 days.
Xfinity announced that it intends to offer the following benefits through the next 60 days:
- Free Wi-Fi hotspots
- Unlimited data for all plans
- Waived late fees and no disconnects (must contact Xfinity to get waivers)¹¹
- First two months free to new customers on low-income Internet Essentials plan
- Low-income Internet Essentials plan permanent speed boost from 15 Mbps to 25 Mbps¹²
New Xfinity customers can enjoy all of these offerings while existing customers will receive everything but the free two months on the Internet Essentials plans.
Electric and power companies
People are using more home utilities while earning less money. To assist this financial quandary, several power companies have announced special pandemic policies.
Atlanta Gas Light
On March 18th, Atlanta Gas Light announced that it’s suspending service disconnections for nonpayment until April 13th.¹³
Similarly to Atlanta Gas Light, Dominion Energy has suspended service disconnections for now. It’s also offering to reconnect residential customers who were previously disconnected for nonpayment.¹⁴
Duke Energy won’t disconnect your service for nonpayment. But the company will continue to read meters and send bills throughout the pandemic, even though it doesn’t expect prompt payment.¹⁵
Georgia Power is committed to ceasing all residential shutoffs for at least 30 days.¹⁶
Like Georgia Power, National Grid won’t shut down residential accounts for nonpayment. But in National Grid’s case, the policy will last through at least April 30th.¹⁷
NIPSCO’s pandemic approach consists of no service disconnects for nonpayment for the foreseeable future and waived late fees through May 1st. However, NIPSCO customers must contact a customer support agent to make alternate payment arrangements.¹⁸
These policies extend to all residential, commercial, and industrial customers.
NV Energy’s policy is very similar to NIPSCO’s. Until further notice, it’s offering suspended service disconnects and waived late fees to customers who are financially impacted by the virus. But NV Energy’s customer service department still wants to hear from you so it can start arranging a future payment process.¹⁹
If PG&E services your home, you, too, won’t have your service cut off from nonpayment. What’s more, if you tell PG&E that COVID-19 has brought you financial hardship, the company will work with you to develop a flexible payment plan.
Both of these offerings are available until further notice.²⁰
Moving and storage companies
If you’ve been kicked out of your college housing because of the pandemic, don’t worry. We’ve got a few resources for you too.
U-Haul is offering 30 days of free storage to college students whose housing has been impacted by school shutdowns. (This offer is good in both the US and Canada.)²¹
Or, if you want to try Compass Self Storage, it’s also offering a month free to affected college students and their families.²² Just sign up as a new Compass customer to take advantage of this deal.
Education and homeschooling resources
Across the nation, kids are being sent home. Some are receiving remote online lessons, while others are left in the hands of their parents.
A parent and a teacher aren’t the same thing, so if you find yourself in charge of your kids’ education for the time being, try Scholastic. The home of the elementary school book fair is offering daily online learning activities. The material ranges from pre-K to ninth grade, and new lessons will be released through the beginning of April.²³ And, as long as schools are closed, Audible is offering free audiobooks for children and teens through Audible Stories.²⁴
Students and teachers who are current Adobe customers can also access Adobe Creative Cloud free through the end of May.²⁵ Or, for those of you working from home, LinkedIn’s offering 16 free video courses about remote work.²⁶
“But we’re not supposed to travel during the pandemic!” you cry. No need to be alarmed; these offers are for automobile travel only. They’re helpful to people who recently bought new cars, are looking to buy a new car, or need to rent a car to get home from college.
If you’re a new customer who purchases or leases a vehicle through Hyundai Capital between March 14th and April 30th and then loses your job, Hyundai will make six months of payments on your behalf. You can also get a 90-day payment deferral on select new purchases through April 30th. (The deal’s offered only upon customer request, so make sure to ask for it.)²⁷
Ford’s also deferring new vehicle payments for 90 days. Beyond that, the vehicle manufacturer is encouraging its customer to contact its customer support to talk about other potential payment delays.²⁸
The rental car agency is notorious for its age and monetary restrictions on renters and drivers. But through May 31st, Enterprise plans to reduce its minimum rental age and waive young renter fees for US college students ages 18 to 24.²⁹
You can’t just show up at an Enterprise rental, though. You need to book ahead.
When you’re at home all day, you run out of things to do eventually. Happily, a few entertainment organizations are reaching out with early releases or free opportunities.
TV and streaming
If you have Disney+, you’re in luck. While the Disney parks are closed through the end of the month, Disney’s consoling its fans through early digital releases of Frozen II and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.³⁰ Additionally, its newest Pixar film, Onward, was also recently released for digital purchase and will hit Disney+ on April 3rd.³¹
And while you can’t go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter right now, Universal still wants you to have a good time. Universal Pictures announced that it’s going to release several motion pictures through streaming services instead of movie theatres this spring.³²
Virtual museum tours
Do you like museums? Yes? Then get a load of the following virtual museum tours:
- British Museum
- Israel Museum
- The Louvre
- The Met
- National Museum of Anthropology
- The Smithsonian
- Van Gogh Museum
- Vatican Museums
If you manage to tour all the museums we’ve called out, you can check out Google’s Arts and Culture homepage for more tours. Altogether, that’s enough museums for you never to want to see the word “museum” again.
Other company offerings during the COVID-19 pandemic
Lots of restaurants are offering local takeout and delivery deals right now, but Chipotle is offering deals on a national level. Chipotle’s doing the following for its customers through March 31st:
- Offering free delivery for orders of $10–$200 placed via app or online
- Providing tamper-evident packaging seals, so you know your food is untouched³³
So if you can’t stand eating any more frozen chicken nuggets this week, Chipotle’s an option.
During a pandemic, people still need to take their anxiety meds, birth control, prenatal vitamins, etc. Until May 1st, CVS is providing one- and two-day home delivery for prescriptions.³⁴
If you’re a G Suite or G Suite for Education user, Google’s offering you a free upgrade. You can use advanced Google Hangout features while you’re working from home until July 1st.³⁵
Similarly, new and existing Microsoft customers can use a free premium version of Microsoft Teams for their teleconferencing needs.³⁵ Microsoft hasn’t yet put an end date on this offer, so it likely will be available throughout the outbreak.
Peloton wants to help you stay fit while you’re stuck inside. It’s now offering a free 90-day trial to its home exercise programs, no equipment necessary.³⁶
If Peloton’s not your thing, Planet Fitness has live workout streams on its Facebook page.³⁷
Older adults and the immunocompromised are welcome to shop on Wednesdays during the first hour that their local stores are open. This hour will be reserved specifically for them so that they’re not exposed to others.³⁸
Walgreens is taking safety measures to protect shoppers and fairly distribute supplies. Additionally, the pharmacy/grocery store is offering the following benefits:
- Free shipping to home (no minimum purchase requirement)
- Free two-day shipping for new prescriptions
Walgreens says to check with your physician to be sure your prescription is eligible for delivery.³⁹
Getting the resources you need
We suspect that more deals and benefits will be released by companies as the pandemic continues. If there’s a resource you need and are struggling to find, we recommend checking the news pages of company websites and scouring press releases for updates.
We hope that you and yours are healthy and safe during this time of need.
To create this guide, we tracked down press releases and news coverage regarding companies and their deals. We’ve listed and linked our sources in case our readers want to learn more.
- 9to5Mac, “US Carriers Offer Unlimited Data, Expanded Hotspot Capabilities During Coronavirus Pandemic”
- Engadget, “Mint Mobile Is Giving out Free Data for the Next Month Amid COVID-19”
- AT&T, “COVID-19: Our Response”
- Atlantic Broadband, “COVID-19 Updates”
- CenturyLink, “CenturyLink Commits to FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge”
- Cox, “Cox Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response”
- Cox, “Cox Expands Coronavirus Relief Offerings for Residential Customers”
- Global News, “Shaw Opens up ‘Go WiFi’ Hotspots to Canadians for Free During COVID-19 Outbreak”
- Business Insider, “You Can Get Free Spectrum Internet for 60 days If You Live in a Household with a K-12 or College Student”
- Viasat, “Viasat to Participate in FCC’s ‘Keep Americans Connected’ Initiative; Pledges to Keep Customers and Small Businesses Connected During Coronavirus Outbreak”
- Comcast, “Company Opens Xfinity WiFi Network Nationally for Free, Offers Unlimited Data for Free, Confirms Its Commitment to Connecting Low-Income Families”
- Comcast, “Comcast Increases Access to and Speeds of Internet Essentials to Support Americans Through Coronavirus Pandemic”
- Atlanta Gas Light, “Atlanta Gas Light Provides Energy Assistance Resources”
- Dominion Energy, “Coronavirus Update”
- Duke Energy, “Duke Energy Implements Additional Steps to Protect Customers and Employees during Virus Pandemic”
- Georgia Power, “Georgia Power Assures Customers Safe and Reliable Service Will Continue during COVID-19 Pandemic”
- National Grid, “Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Your National Grid Service: What to Know”
- NIPSCO, “NIPSCO to Suspend Shutoffs for Non-Payment during COVID-19 Pandemic”
- NV Energy, “A Message from Doug Cannon, NV Energy President and CEO”
- PG&E, “PG&E’s Pandemic Response Includes Precautionary Health and Safety Actions; Moratorium on Customer Shutoffs for Nonpayment”
- U-Haul, “College Students: U-Haul Offers 30 Days Free Self-Storage Amid Coronavirus Outbreak”
- Compass Self Storage, “Compass Self Storage Offers First Month Rent Free to College Students during the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak”
- News10, “Scholastic Releases Free Daily Courses for Kids at Home for COVID-19 School Closures”
- ZDNet, “Audible to Provide Free Audiobooks for Children & Teens during COVID-19 Pandemic”
- Adobe, “Enabling Student Access to Creative Cloud during COVID-19 Campus Closures”
- inLearning, “Remote Working: Setting Yourself and Your Teams up for Success”
- PR Newswire, “Hyundai Relaunches Unmatched Assurance Job Loss Protection Program”
- Ford Media Center, “Committed to Lending a Hand, Ford Offers Assistance to Customers, Community during COVID-19 Outbreak”
- Enterprise, “College Student Travel Assistance”
- Vanity Fair, “Disney+ Offers Self-Quarantining Respite, via Star Wars and Frozen 2”
- The Verge, “Disney Is Releasing Onward on Digital Platforms today, Disney Plus on April 3rd”
- Comcast, “Comcast NBCUniversal Moves to Make Current Movies Available in the Home”
- Restaurant Dive, “Chipotle Offers Free Delivery, Tamper-Proof Packaging in Response to COVID-19”
- Woman’sDay, “CVS Is Now Offering Free Prescription Deliveries as Number of Coronavirus Cases Continues to Grow”
- The Verge, “Google and Microsoft Are Giving Away Enterprise Conferencing Tools Due to Coronavirus”
- USA Today, “Amid Coronavirus, Peloton Gives New Users Free Workouts for 90 Days – No Bike Needed”
- USA Today, “Planet Fitness to Offer Free At-Home Workout Classes via Live Stream”
- A Bullseye View, “Target’s Coronavirus Response”
- Walgreens, “Updates on Our Walgreens COVID-19 Response”