TYPES OF DEBT

Credit Card Debt Help & Advice

Types of Debt

Credit Card Debt Help & Advice

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For many people across Scotland using a credit card is a way of life. It’s often a convenient way to access credit and help with cash flow, and can actually improve your credit rating if used responsibly. For others, however, credit cards can be a slippery slope towards problem debt.

In this guide we’ll examine credit cards, from what they are and why people use them, to the common causes of credit card debt you should avoid, and where to find debt advice if you need it.

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What are credit cards?

Often deemed to be a vital resource in households across the country, a credit card offers the chance to buy items and repay in installments to spread the cost of larger purchases.

However, despite being undeniably handy when it comes to managing the cost of large unexpected payments, such as having to replace your washing machine or covering the cost of boiler breakdown repairs, if you find yourself turning to the plastic for everyday expenses you could be struggling with your debts.

 

Why do people use credit cards?

Making a payment with a credit card is a common part of 21st century life.

There are benefits of using a credit card – they are protected by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act which protects purchases between £100 and £30,000 if the item is faulty or the company goes bust, but they can also lead to financial trouble.

Turning to a credit card might be simple and stress-free, however, they are the cause of debt problems for thousands of people across Scotland and the UK. Spending on a credit card may come with ease but it’s important never to lose sight of the fact that credit cards are a form of unsecured debt.

Common causes of credit card debt

While there are many people who have a healthy relationship with credit, know where they stand with their credit card provider, and can afford to pay their card off every month, there are obvious links between using a credit card and having a debt problem. Below are some of the most common.

Accessibility of credit cards

Credit cards can seem like they’re everywhere. They’re a highly marketed spending tool and every credit card company goes out of their way to drive new sign ups, from offering the best interest rate and credit limit, to enticing credit card borrowers with points schemes and usage bonuses.

While the big credit card providers like Barclaycard are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), they still operate within a system that encourages people abuse their credit limit, can leave those whose costs spiral out of control struggling to pay their credit card payments each month.

Having other priority bills like rent or a mortgage

If you are applying for a mortgage and are currently paying off credit card debt it’s important to note that lenders will add your credit card repayments to your monthly outgoings when considering if you would be able to afford your mortgage payments.

Lenders will typically assume a repayment of three to five per cent a month on credit card debt which can impact the amount you can borrow. That’s why it is recommended that you close any unused credit cards when applying for a mortgage as the more cards you have the higher your credit utilisation rate is.

Juggling multiple credit cards

Whether you accidentally go over your agreed limit, make the minimum payment too late or find your circumstances change and you’re unable to make the minimum payment, credit card debt can mount up when you’re using one card. So think how quickly things can spiral when you’re juggling multiple cards.

Every credit card comes with its own minimum payment, charges, and late payment fee. Each time you make a purchase on a card, you owe a debt, and each time you miss a repayment, you owe even more. It’s easy to see how someone trying to manage multiple credit card balances could lose control, which can have a serious impact on your bank account, credit rating, and your long-term financial future.

Does credit card debt affect your credit score?

Any kind of debt you carry will affect your financial life, both in terms of your current spending ability, and your capacity to borrow credit in the future. The latter is a direct affect of the impact debts like credit card debt has on your credit score.

Your credit score is a rating system used by credit reference agencies to give lenders an indication of how ‘creditworthy’ you are – the higher your credit score, the more likely they are to let you borrow money (because they feel more confident you’ll pay it back.)

Your credit score is affecting by your credit history, which is a report that documents your entire financial history – including your debt level. That means any time you carry a high level of debt (like credit card debt) or default on a credit card payment, it will be listed on your credit history, lowering your credit score, and in turn making it less likely that you will be able to access more credit in future.

How do I manage credit card debt?

Staying on top of credit card bills can sometimes seem easier said than done, but the most important thing is to be aware of the steps you can take to make sure that you don’t lose control of payments.

Know when your credit card bills come off

Sometimes life can be hectic and things such as bill payment dates can easily slip from memory. Setting up a standing order to cover the minimum payment is a simple way to ensure you never miss a payment.

Don’t just pay the minimum if you can avoid it

If your circumstances allow, be sure to make an additional payment on top of your standing order to bring the balance down quicker and will ensure you’re paying off more than just the interest that is accruing.

Clear your credit card balance

Credit cards may offer the chance to buy now pay later but it’s always good practice to pay off the full balance of a credit card each month if possible, to avoid facing interest charges.

Find the best interest rate

If you’re unable to pay off the balance in full, be sure to use a comparison site to find a lower, or zero interest deal to allow you to pay off more of what you owe each month.

Set a budget

Plan for more than the minimum payment each month using a household budget – even when money is tight. A simple budget will ensure that you are able to cover the cost of your essential living costs whilst still steadily repaying what you owe to a credit card.

Find debt help suited for you

If you’re struggling to make ends meet and are unable to make the minimum repayments on your credit card debt, it’s important to take action as soon as possible. There are various debt solutions that can help if you’re struggling, including a Trust Deed, Debt Arrangement Scheme or Sequestration. Always seek advice about what support is available for you.

Where can I get debt advice on credit card debts?

Credit cards can be helpful when used correctly, but an overreliance on easy credit can lead people down a road of missed payments, mounting debt, and a damaged credit report.

If you have credit card debts you can’t afford to repay, Carrington Dean can help. Our team of industry experts will listen to your situation and offer you free debt advice or an affordable repayment plan to help you put your credit card debts behind you.

To get all the advice and information you need to take action on your debt, talk to one of our friendly advisers today. The phone number is 0800 043 1320.

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