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Catalogue debts. Advice if you have arrears

Catalogues are a popular way to make purchases and then spread the cost over a number of payments. This can help make expensive purchases seem more affordable, but catalogues are often an expensive way to borrow, and have high interest rates.

Many catalogue companies let you spread the cost of payments over a period of time. You’ll usually pay interest, which means that making just the minimum payments can lead to a bigger debt.

Are you in control of your repayments? Find out with our 60 second repayment checker.

What happens if I don’t pay?

If you miss payments to a catalogue, or don’t make the minimum payments, the company will ask you to catch up with the arrears. If you can’t pay them the account will default and further action could be taken against you. Your account with the catalogue company will also be closed so you can’t buy any more goods.

The debt could be passed onto a debt collection agency and the creditor may take court action against you.

Catalogue debts should be treated as a non-priority debt. This means that you shouldn’t prioritise the payments over your household bills and living costs.

Unlike other types of agreements such as hire purchase, you won’t have the give the items back if you fall behind with payments.

Struggling with catalogue debts?

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Minimum payments to catalogues

Making regular payments to catalogues each month helps you clear the balance, however you’ll usually only be asked to make a minimum payment each month.

Paying just the minimum payment to a catalogue might not cover the interest and repayments. This can cause the debt to build up and become hard to manage. You're also at risk of your account being in 'persistent debt'.

Catalogue accounts and persistent debt

if you’ve been making minimum payments for a while, you may have recently received a letter telling you that your account is in 'persistent debt'. They may have asked you to increase your monthly payment. 

cog iconHave you received a letter from your lender warning you that your catalogue account is in 'persistent debt'? Find out what this means and what you should do.

After 18 months of persistent debt

You’ve repaid more in interest and charges than you have towards your balance over the past 18 months. At this point, your catalogue company will contact you. They’ll encourage you to take action so that by month 36 (i.e. 18 months’ time), you no longer have the persistent debt.

After 27 months

You’ll be contacted again by the catalogue company if your account remains in persistent debt (in other words you have only made minimum payments). Once again they’ll encourage you to take action.

After 36 months

If you still have a persistent debt on your account, the company should offer you a way to pay this off within three to four years. They may suggest:

  • An affordable payment plan so you can clear the debt quicker or
  • Clearing the debt altogether by using a credit product, such as a loan or credit card

If these aren’t suitable, they’ll consider other options such as suspending interest and charges, or reducing your account’s minimum payment. This may involve suspending your account, and could impact your credit file.

Cancelling catalogue purchases

If you’ve ordered goods from a catalogue but you’ve had second thoughts or realised you can’t afford them, you have a right to return them.

You can cancel the order any time up to 14 days after you’ve received the goods. You’ll have to return the goods, and you may have to cover the postage costs to do this, but this will be a lot cheaper than paying for goods you don’t need or want..

You also have a right to a refund or replacement if the goods were not as described or of satisfactory standard.

Dealing with catalogue debts

If you’re falling behind with payments to a catalogue or you’re worried about what creditors can do you should get expert debt advice. You can contact us for free, impartial advice on your options.

You can also use our online debt advice tool which can help you find the right solution to deal with you debts, available 24 hours a day.

60 second repayment checker

Answer 5 quick questions to find out.

It shouldn’t take more than a minute to get a clear picture of whether you’re on top of your credit card, store card and catalogue repayments or not.

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Did you pay only the minimum payment last month?


Do you regularly pay only the minimum payment?


Have you had any letters warning you that you're in 'persistent debt'?


Do you ever miss payments to your credit card, store card or catalogue accounts?


Do you worry about not being able to keep up with repayments or not being in control of your credit?

You're in control

Based on your answers it sounds like you’re in control of your repayments.

Because you’re not missing any payments and you’re not just paying the minimum each month, you’re reducing your balance. You’re also saving money by not paying interest.

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Things are OK

Based on your answers, it sounds as though you’re mostly keeping on top of your repayments at the moment.

That’s great. By paying more than the minimum payment each month, you reduce your credit card balance quicker and you can also save yourself money because you’ll pay less in interest.

Find out more about what can happen if you’re only making minimum payments by clicking the button below.

Find out more

You appear to be struggling a bit

Based on your answers, it looks like you’re struggling to keep on top of repayments and your lenders may contact you to ask you to pay more.

Find out what to do now

We’ve got a specialist team who can help you. Please call us on 0300 303 2517. We’re open Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm.

You need debt help

Based on your answers, it looks like you’re struggling financially. We can help you out. We’d recommend you get in touch with us for free debt advice.

Use our online debt advice tool for tailored budgeting advice and a personal action plan.

Get debt help now

If you’d like to talk to a debt advisor, please call us on 0800 138 1111. We’re open Mon-Fri, 8am-8pm, Sat 8am-4pm.

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