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What is debt advice. How it works.

Debt can happen to anyone and if it’s happening to you, debt advice might be just what you need. Find out what it is and how it works.

When you get debt advice, an impartial expert looks at your financial situation and recommends ways to deal with your debts. It could be that you benefit from budgeting better, all the way through to a recommendation of a debt solution to help you. We provide debt advice online and by phone.

You may be able to work some of this out on your own, but a debt advice provider will be aware of a range of things you should know and do to get your finances back on track. It’s like taking your car to a mechanic rather than fixing a mechanical problem yourself.

To make sure you’re getting expert and impartial debt advice, always check the organisation is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We are authorised by the FCA.

Watch our video to find out about what debt advice is

What happens when you get debt advice?

Whether you’re getting advice online or over the phone, a debt advice session will include help with:

  1. Setting up a monthly budget: Looking at your income, spending and debts to make sure you can afford your food, home, and energy costs
  2. Suggesting ways to improve your budget: Sharing ways to reduce your spending or increase the money you have coming in
  3. Explaining what could happen if you don't pay your debts: This will help you understand how you can be affected if you don’t pay what you owe
  4. Telling you which of your debts need to be paid first: Some debts need to be dealt with first, as the consequences of not paying them can be more serious
  5. Going through any options for dealing with your debt: These are called 'debt solutions'. You’ll go through what solutions are available, how they work, how they affect you and any fees you might need to pay

Some debt solutions may have fees, but you should never have to pay for debt advice. We are a charity who have provided free debt advice for 30 years.

Our online debt advice is available day and night

Get started now. You can stop, pause and continue at your own pace.

Start debt advice online now.

There is no impact on your credit score. We will make recommendations, but it’s up to you what you decide to do next.

Chloe on Feefo says:

"Took away the fear."

"Very good - makes it less daunting to face my struggles with helpful and friendly advice and understanding."

Get help like Chloe

Not sure what help you need?

Find out if debt advice is right for you by answering a few quick questions.

What will happen if I'm in repeat overdraft use?

Different lenders have different approaches to helping their customers manage their repeat overdraft use. For example, they will:

  • Write to you and inform you about the way you’re using your account, and the cost of this
  • Provide you with information to help you to review your monthly commitments
  • Signpost you to further help, if they think you need it

Where there are indications that you're in financial difficulty, your bank must work with you to help reduce your overdraft use and address the problem. However, your bank still needs to abide by other FCA rules, such as communicating clearly with you, and treating you fairly. Their action to address repeat use of your overdraft should not cause you further financial difficulty.

How can I reduce my overdraft use?

The first step is to speak to your bank or overdraft provider. They may be able to suggest some steps you can take to reduce how much you owe, or reduce your overdraft limit.

The next step to reducing your overdraft use is to create a budget. This will tell you what your income and spending are each month, and may help you identify areas where you could reduce your spending. Reducing your spending should let you free up money to help you reduce the amount you use your overdraft each month.

There are numerous ways that you can reduce your spending, such as:

You might also be able to increase your income by checking you're getting the benefits you're entitled to.

If you have access to digital tools, it’s a good idea to use them to keep an eye on your balance over the course of a month. Mobile banking makes it easy to keep an eye on your balance, and many banks offer alerts to let you know when you’re near to going into your overdraft or near to your limit.

I'm not sure if I need help with my finances

If you're worried you may need help with your finances, then you should try our 60-second debt test.

By answering a few simple questions we'll be able to tell you if you need debt advice. Answer the questions below and we'll help you understand how close you are to having a debt problem and suggest what your next steps could be.

If your situation is filling you with dread, answer 5 quick questions to find out what you should do next.

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Be honest – this will just be between us, and we′ll not record any of the answers you give.

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Do you use credit, loans or an overdraft until your wages or benefits come in?

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Have you been making minimum repayments on debts or even missing repayments on them?

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Have you received any charges for late payments, or fees for your overdraft recently?

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Are you currently using credit cards to cover your repayments?

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Have you been using credit to pay your household bills or fallen behind on paying them?

Things are looking pretty good

Don′t worry, things are looking pretty good

From what you′ve told us, you don′t have a debt problem.

Make sure you keep on top of your money. You can use our budgeting guides to get started. If anything changes and you can′t pay your bills as easily in the future, this will help you.

If you′re worried about money, don′t wait to come back to us for free and impartial debt advice . We′re here to help you whenever you need us.

Get debt help now

You should act now to avoid bigger problems later

From what you′ve told us, you may have a debt problem. Don′t worry, there′s lots you can do. And taking action now means you start to sort it out quicker.

You can get debt advice online, and switch to the phone if you want to talk with someone. Either way, we won′t share your details with anyone.

Get debt help now

Or, if you′re not ready to get help, make sure you keep on top of your finances. You can use our budgeting guides to start.

It looks like you need help with your debts

From what you′ve told us, your debt has become a problem. You may be worried about this, but we can help you.

Get debt advice online now , and you can switch to the phone if you want to talk with someone. Either way, we won′t share your details with anyone.

We′ll help you to create a budget. This will show you how much you can afford to pay towards your debts. We′ll also help you deal with the people you owe money to and recommend ways to start to sort out your debt.

We′re here for you online 24/7 and by phone Mon-Fri 8-8, Sat 8-4. If you need to stop and come back later, that's fine.

Get debt help now

You need help with your debts

From what you′ve told us, your debt sounds a big problem. You′re probably worried about this. We can help you.

Get debt advice online now , and you can switch to the phone if you want to talk with someone. Either way, we won′t share your details with anyone.

We′ll help you to create a budget, which will show you how much you can afford to pay towards your debts. We′ll also help you deal with the people you owe money to, and recommend ways to start to sort out your debt.

We′re here for you online 24/7 and by phone Mon-Fri 8-8, Sat 8-4. If you need to stop and come back later, that's fine.

Get debt help now

Sarah

"It didn′t matter how many times I re-worked my finances - I would just keep overspending. I just kept telling myself that I had it all under control, but my debts were creeping up over time." Sarah′s story

Jamie

"I hid it from my friends because I didn′t want to be judged. I didn′t want to seem like that person who didn′t know how to handle money." Jamie′s story

Carol

"When I found StepChange Debt Charity, they didn′t want anything from me except the truth. When I spoke to the first advisor on the phone I was in a bit of a state, but she made me feel a lot better and that I wasn′t being judged in any way, which made a huge difference." Carol′s story

John, Greater Manchester

"StepChange don't judge you. They're here to help. I feel a lot less stressed thanks to them."

Beth, Devon

"The service has been amazing, I feel a massive weight off my mind and no longer worry about my finances."

More clients' stories

Debt happens. We deal with it.

We have helped millions of people since 1993.

Find out how.

"Helpful and non-judgemental"

"Helpful advice based on my circumstances. Website makes entering financial and personal details easy then suggests solutions to help. I always felt in control of my choices and each option is well explained. Any issues and the advisers on the phone are knowledgeable, friendly and non-judgemental. I now feel in control of my finances thanks to step change."

Ashton, Feefo Review