We aim to make our website as accessible as possible. However if you use a screen reader and require debt advice you may find it easier to phone us instead. Our phone number is 0 8 0 0 1 3 8 1 1 1 1. Freephone (including all mobiles).
StepChange Debt Charity logo

Free advice on problem debt
based on what's best for you

0800 138 1111 Freephone (including all mobiles)

StepChange Debt Charity responds to 50th anniversary of the credit card

29 June 2016

This week marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the UK’s first credit card. The market has changed significantly in that time and credit cards are now the most common type of debt seen by StepChange Debt Charity.

  • Over 200,000 people contacted us for help with credit card debts in 2015
  • They owed £1.7bn in credit card debt, which represented 41% of the total amount of debt we saw in 2015
  • On average, clients with credit cards have outstanding balances of £8,403
  • 66% of our clients have at least one credit card and 38% of that number have 3 or more
  • Those with credit cards have an average of 2.5 credit cards
  • 31% of the individual debts we see are on credit cards, making them the most common type

Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of StepChange Debt Charity, said:

“Credit cards have changed the way we spend. More than half of us now hold at least one and we rely on them more than our European neighbours. In the half century since their introduction, credit cards themselves have also changed. Conceived as a short term cash advance to save people carrying so much cash, they have now become a near-universal way to borrow.

“Although credit cards can be a cost-effective way to borrow, for many people they have become very expensive, long term debts. Last year we helped more than 200,000 people with £1.7bn of credit card debt. The average credit card debt we see is now at £8,403, about half our clients’ average annual take-home pay, and there is a clear need for change.

“The upcoming review of the market is a chance for the Financial Conduct Authority to reform credit cards so that they work better for consumers, particularly those who find themselves in financial difficulty.

“Small changes to existing rules, such as increasing or fixing minimum repayments, could save people thousands of pounds and cut years off repayment periods. Making credit card limit increases opt-in, rather than opt-out, could stop more people being trapped in long term debt.

“Strong action on credit cards can help ensure that they are used as the affordable, short term product they were designed to be.”

Reform of credit card limit increases and minimum repayments

StepChange Debt Charity has previously called for an end to unrequested credit card limit increases , which it believes are making debt problems worse for thousands of people. A recent survey showed 54% of its clients had received an unrequested limit increase, making debt problems worse for half of them.

The charity has also called for changes to minimum repayments on credit cards, which it says could cut both repayment periods and the amount of interest paid.

StepChange Debt Charity new contact

Contact the StepChange news team on:

Tel: 0207 391 4598

Mobile: 07985 404 153

Email: press@stepchange.org

Follow our press team on Twitter: @StepChange

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