It would take the average person in the UK 26 years and 9 months to pay off the average credit card debt, if they only make the minimum payment each month, according to the May 2019 Money Statistics, produced by The Money Charity.

With the average credit card debt per UK household standing at £2,655 in March 2019 and the average interest rate on credit card debt at 19.87% in April 2019, The Money Charity calculate that it would take over a quarter of a century to pay this balance off if only making the minimum monthly payment.

Under FCA rules, the minimum credit card payment per month must be at least interest, fees and charges plus 1% of the outstanding balance, with many providers adopting this as standard, often with a flat minimum payment as well, for example £5 per month. The Money Charity take this formula as the basis of its calculations. As the overall balance falls each month, so too does the minimum amount, creating very slowly decreasing payments.

At 19.87%, and making the minimum monthly payment, the average household credit card debt of £2,655 would attract £459 in interest in the first year, an average of £38.25 per month. If a consumer continued to pay off the credit card at the first month’s minimum £ payment per month, they would then pay the debt off in 5 years and 3 months (P5.). However, they would still have paid a total of £1,446 in interest, demonstrating the challenge of paying short-term interest rates on long-term debt. (The average credit card rate compares with an average of 7.96%  for a £5,000 personal loan, 3.79%  on a £10,000 personal loan and 2.45% for a mortgage.)

FCA data from 2016 showed that 25% of credit card holders paid just the minimum repayment each month, alongside 15% who were in arrears.

Erik Porter, Acting Chief Executive of The Money Charity said “This stark calculation shows exactly how problematic credit card debt can become if not taken on with a mindset of fully understanding the product, its total costs and affordability, looking towards how it can be managed sustainably by planning and budgeting accordingly. It is essential that consumers appreciate that credit cards can be a helpful financial tool to be used wisely but mustn’t be treated as an inconsequential loan. While the calculation is an extreme one, sadly it does seem a plausible scenario for too many people.

“It’s highly welcome then to see the development from the FCA of new rules surrounding ‘persistent credit card debt’, more proactively prompting users to reduce their debt as well as being offered reasonable ways to repay in extreme cases. We await with interest the impact of these new rules.”

Other striking numbers from the May Money Statistics:

  • Borrowers paid £139 million a day in interest in March 2019.
  • It costs an average of £22.95 per day for a couple to raise a child from birth to the age of 18. For a lone parent family, the cost of raising a child comes to £27.90 per day.
  • 1,022 people a day reported they had become redundant in January to March 2019.

An overview of May’s money statistics can be viewed by clicking here.