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It’s time to start keeping track of which companies in the financial world are stepping up to help their customers in the pandemic.

Examples include insurance companies that are cutting premiums to insure cars that are barely being driven. Banks, mortgage lenders and car companies that are not just offering payment deferrals, but making them easy and painless to access (and not charging extra interest).

There’s a lot of speculation these days about how our consumption habits will change as a result of the pandemic. When picking insurers, banks and other providers of financial services in the future, I wonder if people will want to consider how they treated customers in the pandemic.

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Treating people fairly and with respect in stressful times suggests an ethical approach to business that goes beyond customer service. A recent commentary by the investment analysis firm Morningstar talks about a linkage between a company’s behaviour in the pandemic and its long-term business prospects. You might want to patronize these companies, and invest in them.

Let’s build a list of pandemic good guys. E-mail me at rcarrick@globeandmail.com and tell me about financial companies that helped you with quick, efficient service, with relief on debts, with price cuts or with human decency. I’ll share the results in an upcoming newsletter.

Subscribe to Carrick on Money

Are you reading this newsletter on the web or did someone forward the e-mail version to you? If so, you can sign up for Carrick on Money here.

Rob’s personal finance reading list…

What to do with travel reward points in a pandemic

Pros and cons of redeeming travel points for cash credits and gift cards. There’s a handy chart here showing how much less bang for your buck you get when you forego travel for other rewards. Then again, when will you travel next?

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The trouble with online shopping for groceries

We’ve ordered from a few different stores for curbside pickup – all went smoothly, except for one day when our order wasn’t ready at the scheduled time and after a long wait I had to go back the next day. CBC explains here why online grocery ordering can lead to long waits, limited stock and cancelled orders.

A sneak pandemic peak at how the country’s hottest real estate market is doing

The last thing our struggling economy needs is a big decline in house prices and sales. A look at Toronto in the first 17 days of April shows a sharp decline in sales and a modest dip in prices. Stay tuned for more definitive data as we head through the spring.

How you could save up to 96 per cent on car insurance

A thorough look at how much you could save on auto insurance premiums during the pandemic because you’re driving less.

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Ask Rob

Q: Why do banks charge a service fee on savings accounts for "inactivity?” My bank just charged us $25 on the account for our son’s savings account. I would think that inactivity would cost the bank less.”

A: Charging a $25 fee on a savings account is downright nasty. Why do banks do it? One reason is that active accounts generate more revenue for the bank in terms of fees. At one time, there may also have been costs associated with maintaining dormant accounts. Suggestion: Find a bank that doesn’t ding you for not using your account. EQ Bank, for example, does not charge dormant account fees.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

A directory of pandemic income support measures for seniors, and for people with disabilities.

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What I’ve been writing about:

  • The government should help seniors financially in this pandemic, but young adults must come first
  • Pandemic Personal Finance Update No. 5: How to get relief on car payments and free financial planning (Plus, prepare to pay taxes on the CERB)
  • How the pandemic makes it even more sensible to delay the start of CPP retirement benefits (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

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