Persistent debt

If you have a credit card, you might want to learn more about persistent debt. This is also known as long-term credit card debt.

What is persistent debt?

Frequently asked questions

Pay off your credit card debt

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What is persistent debt?

If you make the minimum or low repayments on your credit card and have paid more in interest, fees and charges than you’ve repaid over an 18-month period, you are in persistent debt. It’s an expensive way to borrow money and will take you much longer to repay your debt.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has introduced rules to help customers avoid long-term debt on their credit cards. If you’re in persistent debt, we’ll get in touch and work with you to create a plan so you can start repaying your credit card balance more quickly. This’ll hopefully reduce the amount of interest you’ll be charged in the future.

Frequently asked questions

I pay the minimum amount on my credit card each month. What does this mean for me?

Whilst your minimum payment is the smallest amount you’re required to pay back, you could pay a lot of interest on your credit card debt if you continue to do this for a long period of time.

How will increasing my payments save me money?

Rather than paying the minimum payment, paying a fixed amount that does not decrease with your balance is a great start. Doing this will mean you repay your credit card balance much faster.

Paying a higher amount monthly can also make a big difference. If you keep making higher payments it will reduce the amount of interest you’re charged, meaning that your balance will be cleared sooner.

The table below shows the difference this can make on an outstanding balance of £2,000:

If you only make the minimum payment
If you pay a fixed amount
If you pay a higher fixed amount
Monthly payment
If you only make the minimum payment Starts at £55 and reduces over time
If you pay a fixed amount Fixed at £55 a month
If you pay a higher fixed amount Fixed at £75 a month
Time to pay off your balance
If you only make the minimum payment 22 years and 10 months
If you pay a fixed amount 4 years and 9 months
If you pay a higher fixed amount 3 years
Total interest paid
If you only make the minimum payment £3,019
If you pay a fixed amount £1,114
If you pay a higher fixed amount £654

The table is a guide for illustrative purposes only, calculated on a balance of £2,000 with approximate minimum payments and an interest rate of 21%. Figures are rounded to the nearest pound. In this we have assumed that there has been no additional spending on the card, no fees have been incurred, and the same interest rate has been paid across the entire balance.

If you would like to find out how much increasing your payments could save you based on your personal circumstances, please contact us and we will be happy to talk about this with you.

Will making minimum or low payments affect my credit score?

If you continue to make the minimum or low payments over a long period of time, this may negatively impact your credit score, which other lenders might factor in when deciding to lend to you.

Missing your payments or paying late would likely have a negative effect on your credit score too.

Will you suspend my card if I stay in persistent debt?

If we suspend your card, you’ll no longer be able to make payments with it. We’ll always tell you in advance before we suspend your card, apart from in exceptional circumstances.

We will consider suspending your card if you stay in persistent debt for two 18-month periods in a row. This is due to rules introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). For example, if it’s been reported as stolen, or there’s been fraudulent activity on your card.

Your card could also be suspended if you miss minimum payments.

I can’t afford to pay any more than the minimum amount each month. What are my options?

If you can’t afford to pay more than the minimum monthly payment, please get in touch so we can help. We'll listen to your situation, help you work out a budget and offer a payment arrangement based on your individual circumstances. We’ll never ask you to repay more than you can afford.

You can call us on 0344 844 8899. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm. (Call charges apply).

What should I do if I’m struggling to pay the minimum amount each month?

If you are worried that you cannot make your payments, or your circumstances have changed meaning you have less money to pay your bills, please call us on 0344 844 8899. Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm, and Saturdays 9am to 5pm.(Call charges apply.)

We know this can be a worrying time, but you are not alone. Our advisers will work with you to help you find an affordable solution.

Pay off your credit card debt

You can make payments to your credit card and pay off your debt in a number of ways. These include:

  • Via online banking
  • Via our mobile app
  • In branch
  • By phone
  • By post.

To set up a Direct Debit, you can call us, visit one of our branches, or print off a form and return it to us by post.

Find out more about the different options available to you in our guide to paying off your credit card.

Before amending any of your credit card payments, you should make sure you can afford them first.

Other ways to manage your credit card debt

You could also use a consolidation product like a balance transfer credit card to help manage your credit card debt. If you're eligible, you may be able to move your credit card debt to a single card, but make sure you check the interest rate and any fees involved in transferring the debt so you understand the total costs.

Whilst a balance transfer might be the right option for you, it's really important that you weigh up all benefits, costs and risks of the product you're interested in, so that you can make sure it fully meets your needs.

Please note, you can’t transfer your balance to a Co-operative Bank balance transfer credit card if it’s from a Co-operative Bank or smile credit card.

Also, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to apply for a loan in order to pay off your credit card debt in full. To find out if this is an option for you, please contact us.

Get more support

If you're struggling to manage your finances at the moment, we're here to help you find the right support. Get more help from us (or advice from an independent organisation) in our Money Management Hub.

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