In this short guide, we will ask if stopping interest on your credit card is possible and provide you with a downloadable resource to make asking your creditors easier.
And if you want personal assistance with this type of (potential) debt, consider giving StepChange or another respected debt charity a call.
Credit card interest and fees
When you get a credit card, you’ll be asked to pay interest on the amount you spend. Credit card companies advertise the amount of interest they charge through APR, which stands for Annual Percentage Rate,
The APR is the rate of interest you would pay over one year. For example, if you spend £1,000 on a credit card with an APR of 23%, then you will have to pay £1,230 back (£1,000 + £230 interest). However, if you were to repay in six months instead of a year, you will only pay half of this amount (£115).
Creditors will advertise an APR rate for their cards, but the exact interest rate you pay will depend on your credit rating and personal circumstances. Some providers will offer 0% APR for the first few months you have the card.
Can I freeze interest on my credit card?
Unless your credit card terms and conditions include a period of zero interest (normally only at the beginning), the only way to stop credit card interest is to ask the creditor to freeze the interest on your account. You will still need to pay the capital that you spend.
If lenders do agree to freeze the interest, they’ll probably only do it for so long, usually between three months and six months.
How do I stop my credit card from accruing interest?
You can write to credit card lenders to ask them to freeze the interest on your card, but there is no legal obligation for the lender to do so. The same applies if you want to remove the interest on a loan – you can try but there are no guarantees.
There are some groups that encourage credit card issuers to freeze the interest when asked, namely The Credit Services Association. The CSA even has this in their code of conduct, which credit card providers agree to when they become a member. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is also pushing for debtors to have their interest frozen during the pandemic.
When making your request, you should provide evidence that you’re struggling to afford to pay and that having the interest frozen will help. You can prove financial difficulty by providing them with a copy of your monthly budget, highlighting limited disposable income.
Work out your budget easily in this budgeting guide!
Another option is to transfer your credit card balance to another credit card that is offering zero-interest for the first few months. However, this will require a new application and another credit check. Moreover, you will probably be subject to a balance transfer fee.
This is known as a credit card balance transfer and might be a way for you to avoid persistent debt or multiple debts.
Our freeze interest and charges letter template
If you are unsure of how to ask your creditor to freeze the interest on your card, why not use our downloadable letter template? We’ve already written a letter you can use to help here. This template could also be used if you wanted to ask for the interest to be stopped on a loan.
We have a freeze interest letter template for single and joint debts, both written in a polite and professional manner to save you the trouble. Simply download it and add some of your own personal details, such as your customer number and address – then post it.
Why should creditors freeze interest?
A lender may agree to freeze the interest and charges to stop their customer from getting into debts with them and others. In doing so, the individual will have an opportunity to put their financial situation right early, and thus, the creditor is likely to have fewer problems recovering future monthly payments.
By helping out the debtor now, the credit card company will hope that there will be no further issues down the line.
Does freezing my credit card affect my credit score?
Stopping interest on credit cards will not affect your credit file. The lender is agreeing for you to pay less for the credit they gave you going forward. It’s not the same as defaulting on payments. But if you haven’t paid what you should have in the lead up to asking for the interest to be frozen, these missed repayments can negatively impact your credit file.
Don’t confuse stopping your credit card interest with freezing your credit. The latter is something some people do to freeze their credit report and block creditors from checking on your file. It will also not impact your credit report, but it will prevent you from getting credit. It’s sometimes used as a way to protect against identity fraud.
Stopping credit card interest in a DMP
If you are considering a Debt Management Plan (DMP), which is a type of repayment plan that spreads out the cost of your debt, then you may want to ask the bank to freeze interest. Asking for this as part of a DMP is common, and there are charities who will try to negotiate this for you, such as StepChange or National Debtline.
You could also ask for this if you have a payment plan on a loan debt when you are experiencing financial difficulty. But there is no legal obligation for the loan provider to agree.
Complain about credit card default charges
Banks and other credit card providers may charge you default fees if you miss a payment. However, it is generally accepted that an account default fee above £12 is unfair and can be challenged. If you have paid more than £12 as a default, you could call your issuer and ask for a refund.
Access debt advice from a charity!
If you want further debt advice or just help to manage your money so you can always meet your minimum payment each month, give a debt charity a call. StepChange is one of the best, but there are a handful of other excellent organisations out there waiting to help you become debt-free.
And you can always pop back to our guides for more answers to common questions about credit cards!