An increasing number of Britons have found themselves coming under financial strain, a new report has revealed.
In research released by Moneyfacts, there have been 125 rate and fee increases on credit cards over the last two months, a figure which Esther James, credit card analyst, claims is “quite staggering”. According to the price comparison website, 69 cards have increased their cash withdrawal fees, while some 25 products have seen rates on cash withdrawals surge, a move which could well impact upon consumers’ ability to service other areas of their finances, such as utility bills, mortgages and personal loans. The study also showed that three cards have seen purchase rates increase, while 18 products have been hit by higher foreign usage charges.
Commenting on the figures, Ms James said: “With the majority of increases staying away from the headline purchase rates, these fee and rate increases are less in the public view and often tucked away in lengthy terms and conditions. However they can still make a substantial increase to the cost of using your card.” In addition, she pointed out that with Christmas approaching, more people could be set to see their incomes being “stretched to the max”. And although she claimed that consumers may well consider turning towards their credit cards to help them access additional cash, making use of such a product could see borrowers “get stung by still higher rates and fees”. The analyst also warned that selecting the wrong type of credit cards could be a “costly mistake” for borrowers.
The Moneyfacts representative also pointed out that credit card customers should look to avoid withdrawing cash using the facility if at all possible, as the average interest rate attached to such a move stands at 23 per cent which is charged from the date the cash was taken out. In addition, Ms James stated that borrowers can expect to pay a fee of up to three per cent. As a result, the analyst reported that by making the minimum repayments on a withdrawal of 500 pounds, consumers would end up paying back the sum of 1,382 pounds and 70 pence – a figure which may well have an effect on their propensity to make payments on utility bills, personal loans and other financial demands.
Consequently, she advised: “Don’t just keep to the minimum repayments, take control of your debt and repay as much as you can afford each month. Doing so will knock years off your debt and save you a fortune in interest.”
However, for those looking for a competitive way in which to meet demands for payment on a number of credit cards, applying for a debt consolidation loan. By applying for a loan, borrowers may well find that they pay a lower rate of interest on their borrowing and are so able to pay off credit card debt with ease, leaving them with a higher rate of disposable income at the end of each month. However, earlier this year Tim Moss, head of loans and debt at moneysupermarket, warned those borrowers considering taking out a consolidation loan to avoid going back into the red as otherwise they could well find themselves under a “debt sentence”.