More than 4.4 Million still paying for last Christmas

More than 4.4 million credit card customers still haven’t cleared debts they ran up last Christmas as spending on this year’s festive period hots up, new research* from MoneyExpert.com shows.

UK payments association APACS** estimates £53 billion will be spent in December with £11.7 billion expected to be put on credit cards.

And the independent financial comparison website warns millions of us will be piling extra spending on top of debt run up paying for Christmas 2006. Its research shows 10 per cent of adults still haven’t paid off their card bills from the last festive season.

MoneyExpert.com is urging people with debts to start getting their borrowing under control. Someone carrying a balance of £1,000 from last Christmas will have spent around £169 in interest over the year if their rate was 16.9 per cent.

The research is not all bad news – 54 per cent of adults in Britain either didn’t get into any debt last Christmas or paid it off in a month or less. Another nine per cent took between 2 and five months to clear their festive spending.

However Sean Gardner, Chief Executive of MoneyExpert.com, said: "It is not time to cancel Christmas but for millions of us it really is time to cancel some credit cards.

"We can all give into temptation at Christmas and put it on plastic but if the debt lingers from year to year you’re starting to get into trouble. Borrowing money is fine as long as you have a repayment plan."

"Unfortunately it appears millions of us do not. And with lenders getting tough that is not a good position to be in. If you’ve not cleared the debts of Christmas past it is time to face up to the future."

The research shows three per cent of British adults took two months to clear Christmas debts while another three per cent took three months. Two per cent took four months while a further one per cent took five months.

Those aged 35 to 44 are the most likely to still be suffering a financial hangover from Christmas 2006 – 14 per cent of this age group are still paying for last Christmas. Women are also more likely to still be paying off 2006 debts than men – 11 per cent of women compared with eight per cent of men. There are plenty of credit card deals which could help people cut debts – as long as they can successfully apply for them following the credit crunch hitting application acceptances.

The average zero per cent introductory offer on balance transfers now lasts 10 months, the independent financial comparison website says.
Analysis of the market shows currently 72.5 per cent of all standard credit cards now offer zero per cent balance transfer deals. That amounts to 169 cards compared with 149 at the start of the year.

Currently the longest zero per cent balance transfer offer is 15 months from Halifax while the longest zero per cent on purchases is from Virgin Money which also has 15 months.

* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,978 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd – 26th November 2007. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). Grossed up figures were calculated using ONS and YouGov data.
** APACS November 15th 2007

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