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i This advice applies across the UK

Credit card debt

Persistent debt: What does it mean for my credit card?

'Persistent debt' is when you make minimum payments for a while. Your lender may write and ask you to pay more each month. Find out what this means and what you should do.

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

Why is my card provider writing to me about persistent debt?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) oversees lending rules. It says providers must tell you if your account is in 'persistent debt'.

These guidelines apply to:

The people you owe are not trying to make you pay more than you can afford.

Instead, they are acting on rules set out to protect you from debt problems.

Lenders also have to:

  • Ask you if you can repay more of your debt each month
  • Make you aware of other repayment options
  • Warn you what could happen if you continue making low repayments

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

Will my credit card be suspended?

Your lender could suspend your card if you are in persistent debt for 36 months or more.

They only suspend cards as a last resort.

They are more likely to do it if you:

  • Ignore them
  • Do not attempt to increase your payments

They may suspend the card if you cannot make payments. This is to stop the balance getting bigger.

How can I get out of persistent debt?

To repay more of the card's balance, you should try to:

Speak to your provider

They may be able to:

  • Stop interest
  • Stop charges
  • Offer you a better deal

Let them know if you are thinking of moving your persistent debt to either:

  • A loan or
  • Card at another bank

Stop spending on the card and increase your monthly payments

This helps your debt balance go down quicker.

Consider ways you could pay off this debt quicker

This could be:

  • Moving the balance to a cheaper credit card
  • Reviewing your budget to see if you could pay anything extra

How much of a monthly payment covers my balance?

A monthly credit card payment includes:

  • An amount for interest and charges
  • An amount to reduce what you owe

When you pay the minimum each month:

  • Your payment mainly goes towards your interest
  • Only a small portion of the payment goes towards the balance
  • This means the debt takes a long time to pay

The more you can pay, the quicker you pay off the debt.

How long will it take to pay off my credit card?

This depends on:

  • How much you can pay on top of the monthly minimum payment, and
  • What the interest rate is

How do I pay off my persistent debt?

Use our online budgeting tool to:

  • Understand your budget
  • Find where to cut back on spending
  • See where savings could be put towards debt

You may then decide to either:

  • Pay the same amount each month:
    • Choose an affordable amount
    • Something above your minimum payment
    • Stick with it
  • Pay your minimum payment, plus a fixed amount each month:
    • Paying a few extra pounds every month can make a huge difference
  • Make one-off additional payments when you can afford them:
    • Pay at least the minimum payment every month
    • Make extra payments when you can

Make minimum payments to avoid breaching the terms of your agreement.

Can you help me with my debts and budget?

Paying the minimum can be a sign that you are struggling financially.

We can help with free debt advice online.

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