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Write off credit card debt

Some organisations claim to be able to write off your credit card debt for you. Be careful - these claims are misleading and could cost you even more money.

Beware of any firms claiming to be able to write off your credit card debt by using a legal loophole, and be particularly wary of anyone asking for upfront fees to do the job.

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Unenforceable or statute barred debt

Under the Consumer Credit Act, there are situations in which a debt becomes ‘unenforceable’. Don’t be confused by this - if a debt is considered unenforceable this does not mean it has been written off.

Under the Act, if a creditor has made an error on your credit agreement, the debt becomes unenforceable until the error is corrected. The Act also gives consumers the right to request a copy of their credit agreement and, while they are waiting for this information, the debt is also considered unenforceable.

What does this mean?

If your debt is unenforceable, this means that your creditors cannot take out a court judgment against you, or demand back items on credit or hire purchase whilst you are waiting for the correct paperwork from them.

It does not mean that your debts are written off. You will still owe any money outstanding to your creditors and charges and interest could still be added to your debt while you're waiting for the information you've requested or for errors to be corrected. What’s more, once your creditor has provided you with the paperwork requested, your debt becomes enforceable again.

In rare cases, a debt may be declared permanently unenforceable, for example if the creditor is unable to provide any details of the original agreement. This only applies to debts taken out in 2007 or earlier.

Impartial credit card debt advice

If you're worried about your credit card debt, we recommend that you get in touch with us straight away. We'll look at your circumstances and work out the best debt solution for your situation.

We're the UK's leading debt charity; any debt advice we give is both expert and impartial. What's more, our services are absolutely free.

Our online debt advice service, Debt Remedy, has helped many people deal with their debt, and it can help you.

Credit card balance transfers

Some credit cards let you transfer the balance from another card. Transferring a debt from a card with a high rate of interest to one with low or 0% interest could help you pay off the debt faster.

But low or 0% interest credit cards are hard to get if you don’t have a good credit rating. This means you can’t rely on balance transfers as a way to deal with your credit card debts.

Also look out for fees when transferring a balance. Most credit card providers charge 2-3% of the amount you’re transferring as a one-off fee. If you’re transferring a balance to take advantage of a lower interest rate, the fees may mean you save less than you expect.

If you do transfer a balance, make sure you cut up the old credit card and close the account. Otherwise, you may be tempted to keep spending on both cards and you’ll end up with two debts.

0% interest credit cards

Some credit cards have an introductory period where no interest is charged. This period varies and some offer 0% interest for 18 months or more.

If you transfer to a 0% interest card, check the rate of interest when the 0% deal ends as this could be high. 

Also check what is covered by the 0% deal. Often this will be for card purchases only and withdrawing money from a cash machine will be charged at a higher rate.

0% deals may end early if you miss a payment.

Credit cards and your credit file

Your credit card provider will share information with credit reference agencies about the way you use your card. This information will help other creditors decide how risky it is to lend money to you.

Like all debts, your credit file will show information about your credit card debts:

  • The balance owed
  • Your payment history
  • Whether your account has defaulted

But credit card providers also share extra information on your credit file which other types of debt don’t show, including:

  • Your credit limit
  • How much you’ve spent each month
  • How much money you’ve withdrawn from a cash machine each month

Credit card debt advice

If you’re struggling to cover the minimum payments on your credit card, it’s time to get independent debt advice. Contact our Helpline on 0800 138 1111 (free from all landlines and mobiles) or try our free online Debt Remedy tool.

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2016