Third of shoppers “sleepwalking” to debt danger

The Motley Fool survey also found that three per cent of shoppers go for the instant credit of a store card because of a pushy sales assistant, with women twice as easily persuaded as men.

With higher interest rates than many cards offered by banks, this means that thousands of people are at risk of credit card debt.

“Store cards can be an important marketing tool for retailers who appreciate the importance of building customer loyalty,” explained David Kuo, head of personal finance at the Motley Fool.

“Consumers also recognise the many benefits of taking out store cards. After all, it can be hard to pass up on an introductory discount if you are buying expensive items.”

Typically a store card will offer interest-free credit for around 56 days, Mr Kuo added, which for shoppers who clear their balance within this period is all “gain without any of the pain”.

However, for those who fail to take steps to become debt free, there is a danger that they will pay a high rate of interest.

The survey found a “significant minority” were eroding away any benefits they may have gained from the cards when they get hit by high interest charges because they have not paid off their balances in full.

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