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Worried about store card debt?

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Store card debt. Advice if you're in arrears.

Store cards are a type of credit that lets you buy goods in those stores and pay later.

Here's how it works:

  • You get a plastic card to pay with
  • The bill comes from the store card company later
  • You can either pay the debt:
    • In one go or
    • Over time in instalments

Have you received a letter warning you that your store card account is in persistent debt?

Find out what this means and what you should do.

Features of store cards

Most store cards will give you a tempting reason to open an account.

This could be:

  • A percentage off your first purchase
  • Vouchers
  • Deals
  • Access to special events
  • Other perks

This can make a store card look like a good idea, but:

  • The interest rate is usually 20-30% APR or more
  • That is higher than many credit cards

This means if you can only save money if you:

  • Get the discounts
  • Pay off the card balance straight away

But if you do not, the interest rate means that you are going to pay a lot more.

Risks of store cards


It can be tempting to spend on a store card even if you cannot really afford it.

  • There is usually a small credit limit, but this can increase as you spend
  • A higher limit means you risk:
    • Running up a larger debt
    • Finding it harder to pay

Hidden costs

Store cards are often promoted at checkout, but staff may not know:

  • The interest rates
  • Minimum payments
  • Charges

Store cards are even offered to people who:

  • Do not need them
  • Cannot afford them

Missing bargains elsewhere

Your store card makes you more likely to stay where you can use it.

This can stop you shopping around for the best deal.

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Store card minimum payments

All store cards have a minimum you need to pay back each month.

  • Often just a bit more than the monthly interest
  • It takes a long time to repay just minimum payments

Always try to pay more than the minimum amount if you can.

Store cards and persistent debt

Persistent debt means you have only made minimum payments over the last 18 months.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) requires store cards to contact you about this.

After 18 months of persistent debt

At this point, you have more in interest and charges than towards your balance.

  • Your store card provider will contact you
  • They will tell you to take action
  • The hope is that you stop having persistent debt by month 36

After 27 months

The provider contacts you again if your account remains in persistent debt.

They again tell you to take action.

After 36 months

The provider should offer you a way to pay off the persistent debt within three to four years.

They may suggest:

  • An affordable payment or
  • Using a loan or credit card to clear the debt

They may also consider:

  • Freezing interest and charges
  • Reducing your minimum payment

This may involve suspending your account, and could impact your credit file.

Store card arrears

Your account goes into arrears if you do not pay the minimum amount each month.

  • Charges are added for each missed payment
  • Charges are usually £12

Your creditor will contact you for the missing payments. If you do not pay:

  • The account will default
  • Further action may be taken

See our what your creditors can do section.

Store card debt help

We can help if you are struggling to pay off a store card.

Our online debt advice tool gives you personalised debt advice and recommends solutions.

You can also call our advice teams (free from all landlines and mobiles).