Half of Brits will still be paying for Christmas 2016 one year on

If you felt that you overspent more than you overate during Christmas, then you’re in the majority because 85 per cent of Brits kicked off 2017 with at least some credit card debt, new research has revealed.

Brits had an average of £636 on their credit card as they entered the new yea…

If you felt that you overspent more than you overate during Christmas, then you’re in the majority because 85 per cent of Brits kicked off 2017 with at least some credit card debt, new research has revealed.

Brits had an average of £636 on their credit card as they entered the new year, according to the survey of 1,261 UK adults, commissioned by price comparison website uSwitch.com.

Over half of those (52 per cent) believe they will still be paying off Christmas 2016 by the time they put up the tree and decorations in December 2017, while 15 per cent are still lumped with debt from Christmas 2015.

This vicious circle of debt has been sparked by a boom in cheap credit, uSwitch.com claims, with one in ten consumers (nine per cent) conceding that they will never be debt-free.

A fifth of the survey sample admitted to spending beyond their means to fund 2016’s festive period, while one in six went into debt to afford presents for family and friends. A quarter of these people wanted to overspend to protect the magic of Christmas.

Record debt

Credit card debt reached record levels in October, according to the Bank of England, but consumers can gain some breathing space by moving existing debt to a credit card that charges zero per cent interest on balance transfers, uSwitch.com has advised.

Tashema Jackson, the website’s money expert, said that millions of Brits will be suffering from festive financial hangovers at the start of 2017.

“While it may be hard to see an end in sight, the worst thing people in debt can do right now is stick their head in the sand,” she warned.

“As well as reining in spending, using the right products is an easy way to keep your bills down. For example, savvy shoppers who clear their credit card balance in full each month should consider cashback cards to help make back that little bit extra.”

Ms Jackson also advised that for those with longer-term debt, cards offering zero per cent interest on balance transfers could provide some welcome relief and more time to get on top of their debt with interest-free periods now stretching for more than 40 months.

By Amy White

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