About the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act


The novel coronavirus, referred to as COVID-19, has created widespread impact for companies and employees across the United States as quarantine, self-isolation, and travel restrictions have been implemented globally. We know you’re working as hard as we are to navigate this climate, and as a partner, we’d like to share an overview of how the CARES Act impacts our employees, business, consumers, and merchant partners.

This overview covers the following information:

What is it?

The far-reaching legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history. It injects a massive financial boost into a struggling economy with provisions aimed at helping American workers, small businesses, and industries grappling with the economic disruption. As federal, state, agency guidance, or regulatory changes are made, we will provide additional information as it becomes available.

The Keeping American workers Paid and Employed Act would provide $377 billion to help prevent workers from losing their jobs and small businesses from going under due to economic losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) would provide 8 weeks of cash flow assistance through 100% federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains its payroll, then the portion of the loan used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven, which would help workers to remain employed and affected small businesses and our economy to recover quickly from this crisis. This proposal would be retroactive to February 15, 2020 to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls.


Application forms and information

You can find application forms and information at

Paycheck Protection Program

(Section 1102) The bill would provide $350 billion to support loans through a new Paycheck Protection Program for the following types of business:

  • Small employers with 500 employees or fewer, as well as those that meet the current Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards
  • Self-employed individuals and “gig economy” individuals
  • Certain nonprofits, including 501(c)(3) organizations and 501(c)(19) veteran organizations, and tribal business concerns with under 500 employees.

The size of the loans would equal 250 percent of an employer’s average monthly payroll. The maximum loan amount would be $10 million. Covered payroll costs include salary, wages, and payment of cash tips (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000); employee group health care benefits, including insurance premiums; retirement contributions; and covered leave. The cost of participation in the program would be reduced for both borrowers and lenders by providing fee waivers, an automatic deferment of payments for one year, and no prepayment penalties.

Loans would be available immediately through more than 800 existing SBA-certified lenders, including banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions, and SBA would be required to streamline the process to bring additional lenders into the program. The Treasury Secretary would be authorized to expedite the addition of new lenders and make further enhancements to quickly expedite delivery of capital to small employers. The maximum loan amount for SBA Express loans would be increased from $350,000 to $1 million. Express loans provide borrowers with revolving lines of credit for working capital purposes.


SBA loans

The government is no longer accepting new applications at this time. For more information, please visit

Entrepreneurial assistance

(Section 1103) The bill would provide $265 million for grants to SBA resource partners, including Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers, to offer counseling, training, and related assistance to small businesses affected by COVID-19. $10 million would be provided for the Minority Business Development Agency to provide these services through Minority Business Centers and Minority Chambers of Commerce.

Emergency EIDL grants

(Section 1110) The bill would expand eligibility for entities suffering economic harm due to COVID-19 to access SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), while also giving SBA more flexibility to process and disperse small-dollar loans. The bill would allow businesses that apply for an EIDL expedited access to capital through an Emergency Grant—an advance of $10,000 within three days to maintain payroll, provide paid sick leave, and to service other debt obligations. $10 billion would be provided to support the expanded EIDL program.

Small business debt relief

(Section 1106) The bill would require SBA to pay all principal, interest, and fees on all existing SBA loan products, including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and Microloan programs, for six months to provide relief to small businesses negatively affected by COVID-19. $17 billion would be provided to implement this section.

Emergency grants & forgivable loans

(Section 1106) The main features for small businesses are emergency grants and a forgivable loan program for companies with 500 or fewer employees. There are also changes to rules for expenses and deductions meant to make it easier for companies to keep employees on the payroll and stay open in the near-term.

  • Emergency grants: The bill provides $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 to provide emergency funds for small businesses to cover immediate operating costs.
  • Forgivable loans: There is $350 billion allocated for the Small Business Administration to provide loans of up to $10 million per business. Any portion of that loan used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books or pay for rent, mortgage, and existing debt could be forgiven, provided workers stay employed through the end of June.
  • Relief for existing loans: There is $17 billion to cover six months of payments for small businesses already using SBA loans.

Family Medical Leave Act

The CARES Act expanded emergency and paid sick leave by making employees of businesses with fewer than 500 employees eligible for 12 weeks of family leave if they are unable to work due to certain COVID-19 related reasons for the period April 1st - December 31st, 2020. The first 10 days are unpaid, and employees may elect to use other paid benefits such as paid sick leave to cover the first 10 days of unpaid leave. After the first 10 days, employees shall be paid at no less than two-thirds their regular pay rate or $200 per day and the benefit is capped at $10,000.