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 Authority (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 mainly applies to credit or store cards because your payments can be relatively flexible.

Repayment calculator

Understand how your monthly payments can impact the time it takes to repay your balance, increasing them could reduce the amount of interest paid.



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How to reduce the cost of your credit card

When you get your statement, you’ll see that you need to make a minimum payment by a set date. 

Paying on time helps to avoid extra fees or losing promotional interest rates. Missing payments could damage your credit score.

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.

Here’s an 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.

Number of months to pay off:

28 years and 3 months


Interest paid: £5,214


Total paid: £8,214

Paying a fixed amount costs you less

At £84 each month.


Number of months to pay off:

4 years and 10 months


Interest paid: £1,866


Total paid: £4,866

Paying a little more costs you even less

At £124 each month.


Number of months to pay off:

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 recommended monthly payment is 1% of the balance owed, plus standard interest, fees and charges.

Understand minimum payments

Ways to pay your credit card

There are lots of different ways to make the monthly payments to your credit card and stay in control.

Using a budget planner may help you work out how much you can afford to pay.

You need to pay at least the minimum payment shown on your statement every month.

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

Ways to pay

If you can't afford to repay more

Paying more than the minimum each month reduces the interest you'll pay. If you’re worried, you don’t need to wait for us to get in touch. We’re here to talk about any money worries you may have and to help you to find practical ways to deal with them. We usually find that the sooner you let us know there’s a problem, the easier it is to deal with it together.

Free independent help and advice

Get free advice and 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

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

Get independent help and advice

Learn more about 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.

Tips for managing your credit card

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.

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

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

  • You will lose the ability to make further transactions if your account has been in persistent debt for 3 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, get in touch so we can find a way to help.

  • Having an account in persistent debt doesn’t directly affect your credit score, but missing payments or making late payments could.

    What affects your credit score

  • If you’re worried about your money or repaying your balance, please get in touch. We’ll explain all your options and help you find a way forward.

    Get help with money worries