Borrowers mustn’t ‘bury heads in sand’

Andrew Hagger, head of news and press at Moneyfacts.co.uk, made these comments after some credit cards agreed to lower their late payment fees from £20 to £12 due to Office of Fair Trading (OFT) action.

While welcoming this news, Mr Hagger said customers still had a role to play by ensuring that they paid their bills on time.

“One thing that we shouldn’t lose sight of here is that, rather than continually blaming the lenders, it is down to consumers to manage their accounts within their agreed credit card limits,” said Mr Hagger.

“Customers shouldn’t just bury their heads in the sand if they find themselves in financial difficulties.”

HSBC, Lloyds TSB and Barclays have agreed to lower their charges starting from the end of this month after the OFT threatened action over “unfair” charges.

However, Mr Hagger warned that he had heard that Barclaycard had already raised its interest rate to recoup any losses, adding that other credit card providers could follow.

Although pleased that lower default payment charges will hurt people with debt less, Mr Hagger urged customers to establish a direct debit to ensure that they do not have to pay these fees, whether they are £25 or £12.