9 Things That Are Completely Free During the Pandemic

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Photo by Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

If you’re among the many Americans who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus, you may be shifting from finding stuff on the cheap to putting an all-out freeze on discretionary spending.

Fortunately, there are plenty of freebies that can help you financially survive the COVID-19 outbreak or keep you entertained during these long days at home.

We’ve rounded up everything from financial services and food delivery to free news and books. There’s even something for essential workers in the mix.

Following is a look at what’s free during the pandemic.

1. Credit reports

From now through April 2021, consumers can access their free Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports as often as once a week.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, free credit file access was limited to one per year from each credit reporting company, as mandated by federal law.

Checking your credit reports is important because they contain information used to determine your credit score. To learn how to request yours, check out “How to Get Your Free Credit Report in 6 Easy Steps.”

2. Extra savings account withdrawals

Thanks to a recent Federal Reserve ruling, you may be able to take money from your savings account or money market account penalty-free.

In the past, bank customers paid a fee if they made certain types of withdrawals from these accounts more than six times in a month.

The Fed is relaxing that rule temporarily, which means each bank can decide whether they’ll offer more penalty-free withdrawals. Check with your own financial institution to see if you get a break here.

3. Prescription drug delivery

With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing daily, you may prefer skipping a trip to the pharmacy. Several national chains are making this easier with free prescription delivery services.

For example, CVS is offering free one- to two-day delivery for eligible prescription orders until May 31, and Texas residents can get free prescription delivery for eligible prescriptions from participating H-E-B pharmacies.

For more options, check out “8 Retailers That Offer Free Prescription Drug Delivery.”

4. Audiobooks and e-books

Many public libraries are temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but a few digital resources have stepped in to help fill the gap.

You can now stream select kids audiobooks for free through the Audible Stories program or borrow from a collection of more than 1 million e-books at the National Emergency Library.

5. News content

While many news outlets have shifted to paid online services in recent years, some are now offering free access to their coronavirus-related reports.

The Washington Post, The New York Times and Money Talks News are just a few of the national outlets providing free access to news on the coronavirus outbreak. Your local newspaper may also offer free news content, too.

6. Restaurant food delivery

Most restaurants have temporarily closed their dining rooms due to the coronavirus — but in the meantime, many are offering free delivery.

National chain Boston Market is offering free delivery for orders of $20 or more, while other chains are offering free delivery when you order through courier services such as DoorDash, GrubHub and Postmates.

For example, you can get free delivery from any service that delivers Subway, while Baskin-Robbins and Torchy’s Tacos offer free delivery when you order through DoorDash.

You can also check to see if your favorite local restaurant is doing the same.

7. Free stuff for essential workers

Essential workers such as doctors and law enforcement officers have been showing up to work across the country even as cities and states have issued stay-at-home orders to residents.

To show their gratitude, many stores and restaurants are offering free food or services to these employees.

The deals vary by company and may require you to show where you work. For example:

  • H&R Block is providing free federal and state tax-filing services for health care workers, police, firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) throughout May.
  • Starbucks is offering free coffee to first responders and front-line health care workers through the end of May.
  • Uber is giving out 10 million free rides and food deliveries to health care workers and others in need.
  • Delta Sonic’s Brick Oven locations are giving out free food to all doctors, nurses, EMTs, firefighters and police officers with a valid ID.

8. Distance learning

Schools across the U.S. are temporarily closed, due to the pandemic, so millions of students have had to make the abrupt shift to virtual learning.

Whether you’re trying to keep your kids academically engaged or you want to learn a little something yourself, plenty of free educational resources are on offer.

For example, check out Khan Academy, or get some ideas through Scholastic Learn at Home.

Time for a field trip? Head to Google Arts & Culture for virtual tours to some of the world’s top attractions.

9. Postponement of student loan payments

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act signed into law in March provides a freeze on payments and drops interest to 0% for federally owned student loans until Sept. 30.

The law doesn’t do much for borrowers with private student loans, but several states have stepped in to help.

More than a dozen private lenders reached agreements with the governments of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia and Washington state. Separately, the District of Columbia and the state of New York also have extended relief to borrowers with private student loans.

Under the multistate agreement, participating loan servicers must offer minimum protections, such as $0 payments for 90 days — for borrowers who request them. If you live in one of these states and your lender is participating, contact your loan servicer for details.

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