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Can’t Pay Credit Card – Step by Step Guide

"can't pay credit card"

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

Credit card debt in the UK is common with the average credit card debt in 2020 above £2,000. If you have found that you can’t pay your minimum credit card repayments this month, we have advice for you.

Avoiding your credit card debts and hoping they go unnoticed is the wrong course of action to take. Learn what you should be doing if you can’t pay credit card debts, right here.

Common Reasons People Can’t Make Repayments

You might have borrowed responsibly and can usually make your credit card repayments each month. But due to an unforeseen and unfortunate event, making the minimum repayment on your credit cards may become a struggle.

Common reasons why people cannot pay their credit card bills are because they lose their job unexpectedly, or they have to make an emergency purchase. The latter may include things like buying new white goods after your old machines stopped working. Or it may be an emergency repair, such as fixing a car to be able to get to work.

In these situations, you need to spend money you didn’t think you would, and that could result in not being able to pay credit card debts. 

“I can’t pay credit card debts.” – Your First Move

If all of this sounds familiar, you should not ignore the situation and hope your lender doesn’t notice. Most banks and credit card providers have automated systems that detect when you miss payments and may send out threatening letters.

If you can foresee that you won’t be able to make your minimum credit card repayment this month, your first move should be to speak with your bank or lender. Explain the situation to them and why you cannot pay. 

In some situations, your lender may give you a short repayment holiday or reduce your minimum repayment this month. This is more likely to happen if you have encountered a one-off situation like a car that needs repairing. It is not as likely to happen if you lose your job and don’t have another source of income lined up.

My Lender Isn’t Helping, What Next?

If your credit card provider has not offered to help in the short or long term, you will have to source a solution independently. If you have multiple credit cards to repay, one option is to use credit card debt consolidation.

What Is Credit Card Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation is the process of reducing the number of debts you owe and creating one bigger debt. It isn’t just done to package up your debts into one neat pile. Rather, it is done to reduce the amount of interest you must pay on the debt and/or access a repayment holiday.

Let’s explain more…

The best explanations come with an example. Let’s say that you have two credit cards and owe £200 on each of them. Credit card consolidation would be opening up another credit card and doing a balance transfer of the two credit cards onto the new one, so now you have one credit card debt of £400.

Note, this is a simplified example and you must be aware of other things like:

  • Balance transfer fees
  • Not all credit cards allow balance transfers
  • The long-term repercussions of credit card balance transfers

By consolidating your debts with a balance transfer, you clear your existing debts and start a new one. But as is the case with the best balance transfer credit cards, they typically come with a period where you don’t have to pay any interest or don’t have to pay anything back for the first month (or more!).

This can help you overcome any unforeseen one-off expenses. But the transfer itself may force you to pay back for longer, which could mean you pay back more overall. Nevertheless, it still stops you from getting into problems with your lender(s).

Who Can Use Credit Card Consolidation?

Credit card consolidation is an early intervention method to get a hold of your debts from the start and stop any potential legal action against you. It is not advised as a method when you have been unable to pay your credit card for some time and have accumulated a lot of debt.

Moreover, not everyone can use a credit card balance transfer because some people can’t get approved for the new credit card. If you have poor credit then this method won’t be accessible to you.

Lender Won’t Help and I Can’t Consolidate, What Now?

If your lender isn’t offering top restructure your repayments and you cannot use a credit card consolidation method, it may be time to assess other debt solutions.

There are many debt solutions aimed at helping people make unsecured debts like credit card debt more affordable. The solution you need will depend on your personal situation and income, as well as your geographical location (Scottish resident choose from a different set of debt solutions!).

Where to Start with Debt Solutions?

Debt solutions are usually offered by debt management companies where you might have to pay for their help, but they can also be negotiated directly with lenders yourself or through debt charities.

It is the latter where we recommend starting. Speak with a free UK debt charity to discuss your situation and get professional help. Their staff will be able to identify the most advantageous debt solution for you.

More Info on Debt Solutions 

If you want to see the different debt solutions and learn more about them, the Money Nerd debt solution page is the perfect place to start. We’ll teach you about DMPs, IVAs and more without confusing language. 

Make phrases like “I can’t pay credit card debt” a worry of the past by using the most applicable debt solution. 


Are you struggling with debt?
Are you struggling with debt?
  • Affordable repayments
  • Reduce pressure from people you owe money to
  • Stop interest and charges from soaring