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.

Essentially this means, without increasing your payments, it could take several years and cost you more in interest and charges before you’ll repay your balance.

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

We’ll get in touch to let you know if we think you’re in persistent debt and give you practical advice to help you move forward.

How to reduce the cost of your credit card

Paying more will help

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.

It’s good to make any extra payments you can, but we know this isn't always possible. So if you aren't able to pay more, just pay the minimum every month for now. Please be aware that paying the minimum is an expensive way to borrow, and you may end up paying more in the end.

If you continue to pay more in interest, fees and charges than off your balance for 36 months, we’ll get in touch and let you know how much to repay.

How paying more can make a difference

Below 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, no additional fees or charges are incurred, and the interest rate doesn’t change. The minimum payment is calculated at 1% of the outstanding balance, plus standard interest, fees and charges.

More about minimum payments.

How to pay your credit card

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

You may like to use our budget calculator, which could help you work out how much more you could realistically afford to repay. You need to pay at least the minimum amount shown on your statement each month.

If you are in persistent debt and on a recommended payment plan, you can also set up this payment amount by Direct Debit, if this helps.

Explore payment options

If you can’t afford to repay any more

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 money worries you may have. The sooner you get in touch, the easier it is to find a way forwards.

Get help with money worries

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 logo


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 logo

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

More help

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

Free help and advice

Managing credit

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

Managing your credit card

Persistent debt FAQs

  • We'll write to you:

    • If you've paid more towards interest, fees and charges than on repaying your credit card balance, for 18 months or more. This letter will include information and tips on repaying your balance sooner to cut your borrowing costs.
    • 9 months after that, we’ll let you know if you’re on track and are paying more off your balance than in interest, fees and charges. If not, we’ll explain what to do and what happens next.
    • If you're still paying more in interest, fees and charges than off your balance at 36 months, we'll let you know how much to repay each month.

    We may send reminders and suggestions in between, if we think it might 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.

    By paying this amount each month, it will help you to repay your balance more quickly.

    The recommended payment will include your minimum payment, any overdue payments, and will take into account if your card is still being used. The amount can therefore vary each month, so make sure you keep an eye on your statements.

  • If your account has been in persistent debt for three or more years, and you are not paying the recommended monthly payment, you may lose the ability to make further transactions with your credit card. This is to help you make progress with repaying 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, but things like your repayment history and carrying high debt balances could.

    Learn more about what affects your credit score

  • If you are worried about your money, we are here to support you. You can get help with this online:

    1. Log on to Internet Banking or the app
    2. Tap 'Need help with your debt or payments?' on the account menu
    3. Get support with a repayment plan and money management tips

    For additional support with any of your accounts, or for help and advice on how to better manage your money, visit our money worries page.