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If your credit card debt is running scarily high, you may be left wondering, ‘how did I get here?’ This article offers credit card debt help by raising awareness of just how you can end up with a large debt, often without even realising you’re doing something wrong.
Unfortunately, credit card debt is a huge problem in the UK today. Cashfloat, a UK payday lender, aims to help the public by pointing out the important yet often subtle mistakes people often make with their credit cards. Avoiding these can end up saving you hundreds, or even thousands of pounds.
As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure. We firmly believe that the best credit card debt help we can offer is to help you avoid getting into it in the first place.
Living in a world with credit has become the norm for most people. In the past, it was considered shameful to owe money, but since credit cards have become available to most of the population, it is now considered quite normal to owe some money.
In spite of the uncertainty of the UK economy with the looming prospect of Brexit and all that it entails, the British public continues on a borrowing binge, and credit card debt is at an all-time high.
The reasons behind this borrowing boom are varied, but there is no doubt that competition amongst financial businesses is partly to blame. In a bid to win more customers, card companies are now offering zero interest rate cards that run for several years. By November 2016, credit card debt in the UK was running at some £66.2 billion.
This article looks at how and why credit card debt is still increasing, explaining how to prevent yourself from ever needing credit card debt help.
What is debt?
Do you consider yourself to be in debt or would you be offended if someone suggested it? The answer will depend upon a few factors. Most people do not consider a mortgage to be debt although strictly speaking it is. And, if you have borrowed money from your parents to put down a deposit on a home this too could be defined as debt.Avoiding debt can help you stay out of it Click To Tweet
In fact, debt is simply categorised as money that you have to repay (usually with interest) to either a person or an organisation like a bank, finance company or a building society.
In the 21st century, it is almost impossible to be debt free. Unless you are very rich, if you want to go to university you will need a student loan for the tuition fees and living costs. Very few people can afford to buy a house or flat for cash, and most people need a loan to buy their first car.
So, living with credit is now considered to be perfectly reasonable. However, there sometimes comes a point when credit turns into debt, and if you own a credit card and have overstretched on the borrowing, you may discover that paying off the amount you owe has become difficult if not impossible.
If you are an economist, then a boom in credit card spending is a sign of consumer confidence. This usually happens when unemployment is low and earnings are beating the annual inflation rate figure. However, just like in the early 2000s, it is predicted that boom can only turn to bust and there is a certain amount of concern creeping in about what will happen when economic growth slows down, inflation starts to edge up, and the disposable income of households is squeezed.
For an ordinary person, too much debt is a bad idea. It is one thing using a credit card to buy a new washing machine when the old one breaks down but something completely different if you use your card to finance day to day living or splash out on luxuries that are not necessities.
Buying something purely because you want it should be tempered by consideration of whether you can afford it. Investing in a property using a mortgage will always pay in the long run as property prices rise but spending cash you do not have on an exotic holiday will produce no return apart from the instant gratification of leaving behind your debt problems for a few weeks.
So, credit card spending means different things to different people. And, while it can be used to make a positive difference to you and your family, it is wise to remember that borrowing money always puts high profits into the pockets of the lenders.
What Is Secured Debt?
Understanding the difference between secured and unsecured debt will help if you are in a situation where you are finding it difficult to pay all your financial commitments each month.
A mortgage is a secured debt. This means that the lender has a claim on your home if you do not keep up the monthly repayments. The mortgage provider would be entitled to repossess your property and is then at liberty to sell the house. If the sale price is not enough to cover the outstanding debt, then you would still owe the extra money.
The same thing would apply if you took out a car loan and failed to keep up with the repayments. The finance company can take away the car, and they specify these terms in the credit agreement.
What Is Unsecured Debt?
Unsecured debt is money that you borrow without any collateral. This includes credit cards, student loans, store cards, most personal loans UK, and a bank overdraft.
The lender has no right to claim an interest in your home. But, falling behind with repayments could mean that you end up in the County Court. This can damage your creditworthiness for future borrowing.
Most people have a mixture of debt. If you have a mortgage, you can compare the terms to a credit card account and see that the rates of interest for secured debt are much lower than those for unsecured debt.
When it comes to making payments one of the most important considerations is how to prioritise debts. If you are struggling, always make sure that secured debts are first in line to be paid. In that way, you can ensure that your home is safe even if you end up with a black mark against your credit rating.
When you first get a credit card you might be tempted to spend to the credit limit without considering the implications of paying back the funds. Paying by card does not always feel like handing over money. When the statement comes in at the end of the month, it can come as a shock to see what you owe.
But, no one ever wants to get into credit card debt. There are many reasons why some people suddenly find it difficult to make the minimum repayment.
It is not always due to irresponsible spending. Cases where credit card debt help is required can be due to a lack of understanding about the terms of the agreement. Or, it can simply be a case of not keeping track of interest rates and payments.
Interest rates on credit cards are heavily publicised. So, there should no reason not to be aware of how much is being charged. However, having had the benefit of a zero-rated card for a long period, it is easy to forget that the free period is going to come to an end and the sudden rise in interest rates can come as a shock. Missing a payment can also trigger an interest rate rise. This can make it hard to keep up the minimum payment, especially if you are on a tight budget.
Losing a job is traumatic enough without having to cope with paying off a credit card. For many redundant people, there will be a period when they have to go through bureaucratic hoops to get benefits, and sometimes they use credit cards to fill the financial gap.
If this is your situation, try not to rely on your card to get you through the first stages of redundancy and try to think long term about the consequences of building up debt. Check out our guide on dealing with job loss for more information and useful advice.
In the UK most people are only one or two payslips away from financial problems. If you don’t have an emergency fund and an unexpected emergency arises, whether it is something as basic as needing car repairs or a new freezer, a credit card can be invaluable. However, be mindful of the fact that this is money that must still be paid back. Otherwise, you may find yourself desperate for some credit card debt help.
As you can see, there are many other reasons besides irresponsible spending that can lead to credit card debt. Now let’s look at how you can tackle the problem of this kind of debt.
In this article, short term lender Cashfloat explored exactly what credit card debt is. We explained how the best credit card debt help is not to get into it in the first place, and went on to describe several common things that people do without realising the danger of it. In Chapter 9b, we will look at what to do if you are in serious credit card debt, offering useful and practical credit card debt help to get you back in control of your finances.