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Arranging debt repayment plans with creditors

If you’re behind with payments, or you just need some breathing space to take control of your finances, you can arrange debt payment plans directly with your creditors.

You’ll need to put together an accurate budget first. This will be based on your monthly income, household spending and debts. Once you’ve put together a realistic budget, you’ll know how much you can afford to pay towards any unsecured debts, after paying your essential living costs.

If you’re not sure if this is the best way to deal with your arrears, read about the range of debt solutions available to suit different financial circumstances, or get in touch with us for free and confidential debt advice.

I’m not in arrears, but I’m worried about money, what do I do?

If you’ve not fallen behind with payments yet, you must try to keep up with your contractual payments. However, if your budget suggests you’re going to struggle to continue paying the full amount you’ve agreed to pay each month, you may need some money guidance.

Answer a few quick questions to find out how we could help you

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How do I make a debt payment plan?

Use your budget to work out how much you can afford to pay your creditors. Read our guide to making a budget.

You need to share the money you have left over after your essential spending, as stated in your budget, among all your unsecured debts. Typical examples of unsecured debts are credit card debts, personal loans, catalogues, overdrafts and store cards

The most commonly accepted way work out how much to pay each creditor is to:

  1. Work out the total amount you have to repay your debts each month
  2. Work out what percentage of your total debt you owe each creditor
  3. Divide your total based on what you owe each creditor as a percentage of your total debts

Don’t be pressured into agreeing to a payment amount you cannot afford.

If any of this sounds daunting, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for free and impartial debt advice and money help.

How do I get creditors to agree to a debt repayment plan?

Contact your creditors by phone, email or letter to tell them about your situation and to make an offer to pay the amount you can afford. It’s recommended to send a written copy even if you come to agreement over the phone.

signpost iconUse our template letter for your creditors to contact them about debt repayment plans.

To support your offer:

  1. Show your creditors how much you can afford to pay them
    Send each creditor a copy of your income and expenditure statement and a list of your other debts. This helps the creditor see that you’re only spending money on essential living costs, and that the offer made is fair based on what you owe other people.
  2. Explain why you’re currently unable to keep up with full payments
    It helps if your creditors understand the reason you’re struggling to pay, for example:
  • You’ve lost your job or you’re on a reduced income
  • Your living costs have increased
  • You’re dealing with a ‘life shock’, such as divorce or separation
  • You have an illness or mental health issue, such as stress or depression

Have you heard about the debt and mental health evidence form (DMHEF)? If you send this to your creditors they may be more considerate in their dealings with you.

What if a creditor refuses my offer of payment?

I can’t afford to pay more than I’ve offered

If you’re sure the amount you’re paying is reasonable and it is all you can realistically afford to pay, carry on paying the amount you’ve offered. The payments should still be accepted and your account updated.

I think I can afford to pay a little more

If you have room in your budget to be flexible, for example you can reduce some spending without being too unrealistic, you could agree to pay a little extra. This will help creditors see you’re working towards paying off your debts. It could mean they’re more likely to agree to your repayment plan or stop extra charges being added.

Only reduce spending where it’s possible to do so. If there’s no room to adjust the spending in your budget, you mustn't agree to payments more than the amount you’ve already worked out you can pay.

For example, a realistic adjustment to your budget could be to temporarily reduce the amount you spend on clothing and footwear because it’ll only take you three or four months to catch up with your payments. As it’s a short term reduction you can probably get by with the clothes and footwear you already have.

An unrealistic adjustment would be cutting out some spending when you know you’ll have items to pay for, or cutting down so much that it’s not practical to live on such a small amount.

If you’re worried about the actions your creditor can take to get you to repay a debt, you may find it useful to read more about what your creditors can do.

Is it better to pay off debt or make monthly payments?

If you’re able to pay off your debts, then that will almost always be a better option. But if making a large lump sum payment puts you at risk of struggling to pay for your essentials each month, a temporary repayment arrangement may be the safer choice.

Will my credit rating be affected by repayments to my creditors?

If you’re paying less than the required monthly payment, your credit rating will be affected and you’ll find it much harder to get further credit.

It’s normal for your creditors to try to contact you by phone, email or post to request you pay more, to bring the account up to date. They’ll eventually default your account and end the contract.

If this happens, you’ll no longer be able to use that particular credit, whether it’s a credit card, overdraft or store card. If it’s a personal loan then the creditor won’t give you any further credit until your existing loan is paid in full.

If your creditor records a default on your credit file, it will be on your file for six years. Find out about default notices.

Free advice on arranging debt repayments with creditors

If you’re struggling to make payments to your creditor, borrowing more money could make your situation worse.

If you’re behind on your payments to creditors and haven’t received advice yet, we can help. Use our online debt advice tool and we'll recommend the best solution for your situation.

mum at the table with bills

Not sure how to deal with the people you owe money to?

We're here to help with free, online debt advice tailored to your situation.

Get debt help now