What is the average credit card debt in the UK? This is a common question and one that we can answer for you right here. We will even help answer common questions about getting out of credit card debt, including the credit card consolidation technique.

So, what is the average credit card debt in the UK right now?

What Do We Class as Credit Card Debt?

Let’s kick things off by asking what is credit card debt? It sounds fairly obvious. It would be the money you have failed to repay back to your credit card provider on time. For example, if you miss the minimum credit card repayment, that amount becomes your credit card debt.

This is often the agreeable definition of credit card debt and it is the one we will be using throughout this guide. But there is a minority of people who state that all money on a credit card is essentially debt because it is money you have been given to use and must pay back. 

What Is the Average Credit Card Debt in the UK?

Working out the average credit card debt in the UK is not so simple. One reason for that is because there are no official figures and another is because credit card debt is changing almost certainly by the day, if not the hour. 

At the beginning of 2020, the average credit card debt in the UK was just over £2,500. Although credit card debt has risen exponentially over the last decade, this number has actually decreased compared to comparable figures from 2019.

And the total amount of debt that Brits have racked up through their credit card spending equals over £72 billion. The age group carrying the largest load of these debts are people between 25 and 34 years old. 

Will Average Credit Card Debt Have Increased Since COVID-19?

It is too early to say for sure. 

One the one side of the argument, COVID-19 may have caused more people to miss credit card repayments and enter into credit card debt. But on the other hand, credit card providers are being more cautious about who they lend to right now to protect themselves – and to protect you!

What Happens When You Miss Credit Card Payments?

Credit cards usually come with a minimum monthly repayment figure that you must pay back to your creditor to meet the terms of the credit card agreement. If you miss one or more of these payments, you are likely to receive a letter asking you to make the payment or face additional late fees.

If you cannot make any repayments, you will start to have credit card debts. Your creditors can chase you for this money and threaten legal action. They could take you to court and get a judge to make you pay. If you still don’t pay then you could have to deal with bailiffs repossessing your valuables.

But it doesn’t have to get to this stage!

Communicate with Your Credit Card Provider

One way of avoiding legal threats is to communicate with your credit card issuer early. Tell them what has changed which has stopped you from being able to make a repayment. If it is a loss of employment or a one-off unforeseen expense, they may be able to help you overcome the situation. 

If this horse has already bolted and you are already in credit card debt, there are other ways from preventing it escalating to the courtroom.

How Can I Get Out of Credit Card Debt in the UK?

If you have not been able to come to a solution with the credit card provider directly and you are already being sent payment requests and legal threats, there are some things you can do. One of the most effective is credit card balance transfers.

Credit Card Balance Transfer

Throughout the year you can find great credit card deals where new credit card owners don’t have to make payments in the first months. By switching your existing balance to a new credit card you could pay off the creditor who is chasing you for money and obtain a repayment holiday from the new issuer to give you time to get your finances back on track.

This is not as easy as it sounds and there is always a lot to consider!

Credit Card Consolidation

The balance switching trick is also useful if you have multiple credit card debts. If possible, you can transfer your existing credit card debts to one single new credit card with lower interest. Although this won’t pay off your debts, it will make debt interest lower and consolidate all debts into one place, which could be easier to deal with from here.

You can also do this with loans and our debt consolidation guide has answers to the common questions.

Again, this is not a simple solution.

Other Debt Solutions

Credit card debts can be dealt with through debt solutions offered by debt management companies and some debt charities. For example, you might be able to tackle credit card debt with a:

  • Debt Management Plan
  • Debt Relief Order
  • Individual Voluntary Arrangement
  • Bankruptcy

These services will cost but they could make the whole situation easier over the long term. 

Who Can Support Me with Credit Card Debt?

Even if you don’t use a debt charity to help with a debt solution (not many of them offer these services anyway), you should still speak with them for guidance and support. Even just speaking with an advisor from Step Change UK could reduce anxiety and stress – and make the path out of debt clearer.

Are Credit Cards a Bad Idea?

After reading this guide and learning what the average credit card debt in the UK really is, you might think they are a bad idea.

But when credit cards are used responsibly, they are not just a great way to access capital when you need it. They are also a fantastic way to build up your credit score (if payments are made on time), which will ultimately help you get more credit or a mortgage. 

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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