An intriguing study undertaken by P2P firm Zopa has found that almost half of the surveyed individuals who used a balance transfer card, failed to clear their debt during their zero interest term.
In a comprehensive evaluation of the manner in which people in the UK typically use their balance transfer cards, Zopa worryingly concluded that 49% of card holders do not manage to clear their transferred debt whilst enjoying zero per cent interest on it; an actuality which is made even more hard-hitting by the reality that a number of the cards come with introductory periods as long as 30 months.
The findings of the research has thrust the usefulness of zero per cent cards firmly into the spotlight, with Zopa urging card holders to tackle their debt head on and make efforts to pay it off whilst it comes with a zero interest period in order to minimise their financial risk in the long term.
In particular, the implicit conclusion to take from the study is that card users simply use its zero per cent feature as a quick-fix to their financial problems, and then proceed to take minimal steps to clear the debt off without having a clear plan of action or a real appetite to ever overpay or take meaningful measures to address it.
Zopa argued that by failing to make minimum payments on the card each month and choosing to consolidate the debt without having an intention to clear it, card users are putting themselves at greater risk than they might think because they might have their introductory deal rescinded by the card provider.
Alarmingly, their study report identified that 27% of balance transfer card holders at present are having their zero interest offers taken away from them as a result of making their minimum payments late or failing to make them at all.
The P2P giants also estimated that the average person in Britain has £9,531 in unsecured credit card debts with about £1,855 of this on average being consolidated by individuals with a balance transfer card. It is believed that almost a third of the UKís population, or around 17.3 million people, utilise a balance transfer card at present and the estimation that over 8 million of these individuals are failing to use their balance transfer cards properly or are not making their payments on time bodes ominously for the overall financial stability of Britain in the future.
And in the cases where card users manage to keep hold of their zero per cent offer throughout their agreed period, only 51% manage to clear the entire debt- with an estimated £1,289 on average believed to remain on the cards after it comes to an end.
The magnitude of this apparent problem wouldnít be as significant if card users simply transferred their debt to a new zero interest deal when their initial offer comes to an end. If this was ensured, then individuals would not be subjected to the reality they are at present whereby their debt is moved to a far higher rate of interest after their deal comes to an end, but they do not begin taking measures to move it to a cheaper account until their debt has expanded again.
This notion was reinforced by the findings of Zopa which identified that the average card user waits five and a half months after their zero interest offer is terminated before changing to a new deal. This suggest that a number of users are actually ending up paying nearly half a year of extra interest on their debt at a rate that is likely higher than they were paying prior to their acquisition of the zero interest card.
Zopaís findings highlighted this pattern, concluding that 25% of card users have managed to augment their levels of debt through the mis-use of their zero interest deal, whilst many others have consolidated their debt on the card without being fully aware of the often high transfer fees that come along with long term offers.
Those suffering monetary difficulties at present have now been advised to seek the help or advice of financial specialists when attempting to tackle their debt so that they are given a clear idea of the measures they can take to clear their debt and the obligations they are expected to adhere to in order to achieve this goal.
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