Official figures say credit card usage is down, but are some having to use their cards more? | Finder UK

Press Release

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Official figures say credit card usage is down, but are some having to use their cards more?

  • 2 in 5 credit card users have been using their card more during lockdown
  • Only 1 in 6 have been using their card less

12 November 2020, LONDON –

For some, the absence of holidays and a reduced need for big-ticket items meant that during the height of lockdown there was little to buy with a credit card. Indeed, official figures from July showed that, overall, the value of transactions was down year on year by 25%.

However, new research indicates that not everyone may have been using their card less throughout lockdown. The study, from personal finance comparison site finder.com, found that over 2 in 5 credit card holders (43%) used, and are continuing to use, their credit cards more than they did before lockdown started in March.

Another study from finder.com found that over a third of Brits (36%) have needed to use their savings during lockdown, showing Britain’s need to access extra cash and possibly driving many to use their credit card more.

Not only have Brits been turning to credit cards but they have also been using buy now pay later services more during lockdown, with 19% of shoppers saying they had done so in a previous finder.com survey.

These factors, coupled with payment holidays, have contributed to £1,684 billion of debt owed by the British public at the end of August 2020, according to official figures. This is up by £26.2 billion year on year with August 2019’s figure and £498 more per adult on average.

Is Britain divided?

In contrast, almost 1 in 6 (16%) have been using their credit cards less, with 42% of these people saying that their reduced need for consumer items, such as clothes, is the main reason for doing so.

The second top reason was spending less on socialising, meaning less credit was needed, while not having to pay for holidays was the third most common cause.

For many of these individuals, their drop in outgoings resulted in lockdown savings. Previous finder.com research found that Brits who are employed and working from home are saving an average of £99 every week of lockdown by not socialising or going to the office.

The full paper, Playing for keeps: The credit card sector’s fight for customers, includes expert commentary from industry leaders and can be viewed here.

Advice on credit cards from Chris Lilly, head publisher and credit specialist at finder.com, is:

“Credit cards can be helpful when used sensibly. They can allow you to improve and develop your credit score, spread out the cost of a large purchase and offer you protection on purchases over £100.

“Ultimately, what you want to use your credit card for will help you to determine what type of credit card to go for. If you’re able to pay the balance off in full each month interest rates may not be as important, as you can take advantage of the interest-free period. Therefore, pick a card that offers incentives that best suit your needs, for example cashback.

“If you’re looking to use a credit card to spread the cost of purchases, you will usually have to pay interest. So choosing a card with a lower interest rate is better suited for these individuals.

“Also, for those who are really struggling with debt, a new credit card may not be the best option. If you’re in this position then head to Money Advice Service who will be able to help you look at other ways to manage your debt.

Tips:

  • “Start by working out how much you can feasibly pay off each month so you know the maximum amount you can rack up on your card. The easiest way to do this is by creating a budget, apps like Yolt and Emma have many features that allow you to manage multiple accounts and set goals to help you to stick to your budget. This is the easiest way to avoid falling behind on repayments.
  • “If you already have some credit card debt, set up your budget so that you are able to make the minimum payments each month, it is even better if you can pay off more than this amount as you will pay off your debt quicker and lose less in interest.
  • “If you are unable to make your minimum payment then let your provider know as they may be able to place your payments on hold until you’re back on your feet again financially. “

Methodology:
Finder commissioned Onepoll on 2 to 4 November to carry out a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+. A total of 2,000 people were questioned throughout Great Britain, with representative quotas for gender, age and region
Other data sources: UK Finance and The Money Charity

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Disclaimer

The information in this release is accurate as of the date published, but rates, fees and other product features may have changed. Please see updated product information on finder.com's review pages for the current correct values.

About finder.com

finder.com is a personal finance website, which helps consumers compare products online so they can make better informed decisions. Consumers can visit the website to compare utilities, mortgages, credit cards, insurance products, shopping voucher codes, and so much more before choosing the option that best suits their needs.

Best of all, finder.com is completely free to use. We’re not a bank or insurer, nor are we owned by one, and we are not a product issuer or a credit provider. We’re not affiliated with any one institution or outlet, so it’s genuine advice from a team of experts who care about helping you find better.

finder.com launched in the UK in February 2017 and is privately owned and self-funded by two Australian entrepreneurs – Fred Schebesta and Frank Restuccia – who successfully grew finder.com.au to be Australia's most visited personal finance website (Source: Experian Hitwise).

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