Brits turn to credit 21 days after payday

Robyn Hall

July 12, 2011

A quarter of Brits, some 11 million people, are turning to their credit card as a fallback when they run out of funds in their current account.

Of this group, whilst the average fallback day is 21 days after pay-day, one in ten (9 per cent) pull out the plastic less than 15 days after they have been paid, meaning they will be funding the remaining fortnight on their cards.

One in three (35 per cent) Brits use a credit card each month for everyday items, such as food, groceries and petrol, but say they are confident at repaying the amount they use the following month. A further third (32 per cent) say they use their credit card for big ticket items, such as holidays, which they say they may not be able to repay immediately.

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at moneysupermarket.com, said: “With most of the population feeling the pinch at the moment, it’s no surprise to see so many people reliant on credit so early in the month. However, unless you plan this properly and know you’re able to pay off your balance, this can be a dangerous trap to fall into.

“If you’re the type of person who doesn’t pay off their card every month, you need to look at the steps you can take to reduce monthly expenditure before turning to credit products.

“Budgeting is crucial at the moment and people will be amazed at how much cash they can free up each month by simply sitting down and going through their finances.

“For those who simply cannot make ends meet without using a credit card, the important thing is to ensure they are borrowing in the cheapest way possible and not incurring any charges.

“Firstly they need to shop around and make sure they are on the best deal to suit their needs, and switch if necessary.

“A card offering an interest free period on purchases is a good solution, especially for larger items, but if you are using a card to tide you over until the end of the month, still try and pay it off when you get paid, otherwise the outstanding balance will soon escalate.

“Anyone taking out one of these products should set up a direct debit to pay back at least the minimum each month or they risk losing the promotional rate if they miss a payment.”

Welsh turn to credit more

The research revealed that the Welsh are the quickest to turn to credit, bringing out their cards, on average, ten days after pay day, whilst those in the East of England last the longest, holding off, on average, until 27 days after they’re been paid.

Men are also less likely to turn to credit in the first two weeks after being paid, with just six per cent whipping out their flexible friends compared to 13 per cent of women. But men are more likely to use credit for big ticket items which they may not be able to repay immediately – 35 per cent flash the plastic each month compared to 29 per cent of their female counterparts.

Mountford added: “Using a credit card for larger purchases can be a good way to budget, but anyone going down this road needs to ensure they are using an appropriate product and more importantly, are able pay back the balance.

“Again, a card that offers interest free purchases such a good option for anyone looking for some short-term financial flexibility. However, consumers using interest free products in this way need to create a repayment plan and stick to it as when left unattended, credit card debt has a habit of lingering and costing a packet over the long run.”

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