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Brits are set to be haunted long into the winter months by their summer credit card debt, according to new uSwitch research.
More than half (57%) of those surveyed used a credit card to pay for their summer holiday this year.
The average holidaymaker spent £473 on their credit card for flights, accommodation and hire cars — a total of £9.7 billion of summer fun put on plastic.
Half (50%) of cardholders also used their card while abroad without knowing the charges they could incur. With an average commission of 2.85% on each overseas transaction and some providers charging £5 each time the card is used abroad, unsuspecting holidaymakers are potentially racking up even more debt.
Carrying debt into winter
More than two in five (42%) of those who put their summer fun on plastic admitted that it would take them more than two months to clear their debt.
This means millions of families are still paying for their summer holiday with the expensive Christmas season just around the corner.
Tashema Jackson, money expert at uSwitch, said: “The summer holidays can be an expensive time of year, and the only way many of us can make it through is to use our credit cards. However, there are consequences and millions of consumers are taking months to pay off their summer debt and won’t have balanced the books long after those days on the beach are but a distant memory.”
Beat the January blues
If you have existing credit card debt, it could pay to take stock of your finances now rather than waiting for the dreaded post-Christmas credit card bill to come in.
Tashema Jackson said: “For many, sorting out our finances is a once in a year job – however to better stay on top of them, you will find you that if you re-evaluate them every time you have a splurge you will be able to better manage your debt.”
“By looking at the options available to you, whether that is using your savings to pay off your debt or switching to a balance transfer card, taking the time to consider your finances now could help significantly reduce your outgoings and pay for the expensive months ahead.”
A balance transfer card allows you to shift your debt to a new card with an introductory 0% interest period, which could help you to save on interest payments and get your debt in order.
You can also seek help if your credit card debt becomes unmanageable.
“If you are really struggling with your post-holiday debt, speak to your bank and see if they can help. Alternatively there are charities such as StepChange, who offer free and impartial advice to help get your debt under control.”