Persistent debt

What you need to know about persistent debt and how you can reduce the cost of your credit.

What is persistent debt?

The Financial Conduct Authorities (FCA) defines persistent debt as when you are paying more in interest, fees and charges than you are paying off your credit or store card balance, over a period of 18 months or longer.

This means, without increasing your payments, it could take several years and cost you more in interest and charges, before you repay the balance.

Persistent debt applies to credit or store cards because your payments can be relatively flexible.

If we think you are in persistent debt, we’ll get in touch and offer you practical advice to help you move forward.

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See how your monthly payments impact the time it takes to repay your balance and how you could reduce your interest payable.



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How paying more will help reduce the cost of your credit

Your statements include a minimum payment amount, which you must make on time to avoid fees, losing any promotional interest rates and damaging your credit score.

If you continue to pay more interest, fees and charges, than off your balance for 36 months, we’ll look at other ways to help you clear your balance. This may include stopping your card or lowering your credit limit.

This is a simplified example, based on a balance of £3,000 with an effective interest rate of 24%.

Paying the minimum costs you the most

Starting at £84 and reducing over time.

To clear your balance, it will take:

28 years and 3 months

Interest paid: £5,214

Total paid: £8,214

Paying a fixed amount costs you less

At £84 each month.

To clear your balance, it will take:

4 years and 10 months

Interest paid: £1,866

Total paid: £4,866

Paying a little more costs you the least

At £124 each month.

To clear your balance, it will take:

2 years and 9 months

Interest paid: £981

Total paid: £3,981

This example assumes that you don’t use your credit card, there are no extra fees or charges, and the interest rate doesn’t change.

The minimum payment is 1% of the outstanding balance, plus standard interest, fees and charges.

Get more support

Repayment support

Paying more towards your existing debts might feel out of reach, but we can help you find practical solutions.

We’re here to discuss any more worries you may have. The sooner you get in touch, the easier It is to find a way forwards.

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Credit card support

You can make payments to your credit card at any time. Online, by phone, in branch or by post.

Use our guides to learn more about managing your credit card and how to stay in control of your spending, balance and repayments. 

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Free independent help and advice

There are also a number of organisations who offer support with money worries.

PayPlan logo


Free, simple debt advice.

Call: 0800 280 2816

Mon-Fri 8am-8pm and Sat 9am-3pm.


StepChange Debt Charity


Get expert advice and free debt management help to manage your debts.

Call: 0800 138 1111

Mon-Fri 8am-8pm and Sat 8am-4pm.


National Debtline

National Debtline

Free help and advice on dealing with your debt.

Call: 0808 808 4000

Mon-Fri 9am-8pm and Sat 9.30am-1pm.

National Debtline

More help

There are more organisations that can offer you free independent help and advice for your money worries.

Free help and advice

Persistent debt FAQs

  • We'll write to you if you have paid more interest, fees and charges than off the balance, over 18 months or longer. 

    This letter will include information and tips on repaying your balance sooner to cut your borrowing costs.

    If we have your mobile number and think it’s affordable for you, we’ll send you a text message each month with a suggested payment. It will show an amount that you can choose to repay to help get you out of persistent debt.

    In 9 months’, we'll check in to let you know how things are going. We'll tell you if you're managing to pay more off your balance than in interest, fees and charges. 

    In 18 months’, if your account is still in persistent debt, we'll let you know how much to repay each month so you can clear your balance in around four years and pay less interest. 

    We might send a few more reminders and suggestions in between these letters to help you.

    Any action we take is aimed at helping you to cut your borrowing costs and repay your balance more quickly.

  • If your account has been in persistent debt for three years, a recommended payment amount will start to feature on your monthly statements.

    The recommended payment will include your minimum payment, any overdue payments, and will consider if you still use the card.

    The amount can vary each month and by paying this amount each month, it will help you to repay your balance more quickly.

  • You will lose the ability to make further transactions if your account has been in persistent debt for three or more years, and you are not paying the recommended monthly payment.

    This is to help you make progress with repaying your balance.

    If we stop your card, we will close your account after you've cleared your balance.

    If you need your credit card for essential living expenses, contact us so we can find a way to help.

  • If your account is in persistent debt, it won't directly affect your credit score.

    Things like your repayment history and carrying high debt balances could affect your credit score.

    Learn more about what affects your credit score

  • If you are worried about your money, we are here to support you, visit our money worries page.

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Money worries

If you are struggling with your finances, or worried about the increased cost of living, you are not alone. We can help.

Support with money worries