A third of UK parents are set to rely on their credit card to fund Christmas spending this year. What’s more, a third of this group also admitted to still paying off debts from the 2016 festive season. The findings – from a poll of over 5,000 parents commissioned by comparethemarket.com for its latest Parentdex report – further highlight the issue of credit card debt among UK families and follows last week’s revelations regarding six million credit card holders having their limit increased without their knowledge.

The research also discovered that single parents are the group most likely to still be paying off presents from last year’s Christmas, with 42% admitting to doing so, compared to 30% of married parents.

Looking at how much mums and dads across the UK are set to spend, the new insights revealed that the average parent will spend around £353 on their credit card to fund the silly season, but when it comes to who is better at budgeting, mums take the lead. 41% of men admit that they rely on their credit card to buy Christmas presents, compared to 28% of women. British dads are also far likelier to spend more on credit for presents – paying an average of £376 on their credit cards, compared to £339 for women.

Overall and perhaps unsurprisingly, the levels of credit card spending does in fact increase according to family size. Parents with only one child spend an average of £316 on credit over Christmas, parents with two children £350 on credit, and parents with three children – £412. Parents with four or more expect to cough up a whooping £514 on credit to meet their festive needs.

Calculating the overall cost of Christmas, the latest Parentdex poll found that British parents expect their spending to total an average of £812 over Christmas and New year. This includes:

  • Food – £136
  • Drink – £82
  • Family days out – £96
  • Energy use – £46
  • Christmas tree and new decorations – £44
  • Charity donations – £14
  • Travel to see family and friends – £81
  • Holiday travel (excluding to see family and friends) – £71
  • Gifts for children – £259

Shakila Hashmi, Head of Money at comparethemarket.com, said: “If these findings are anything to go by, it is no surprise that the Bank of England has raised concerns about the increasing levels of consumer debt. Our research shows that parents are fuelling the credit boom by consistently failing to account for their Christmas spending year-on-year. That said, Christmas is a difficult time financially for parents, with children’s expectations getting ever higher. It is important that parents plan well ahead of time, taking advantage of any deals that may be available in the run up to the festive season.”

The findings form part of comparethemarket.com’s latest Parentdex, which explores parental spending over the Christmas period – from a reliance on credit to the increasing competition between parents to buy the best gifts.

The full report can be viewed here.