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Persistent Debt

On this page, we've explained everything you need to know about getting out of long-term credit card debt, and what we can do to support you.

What does persistent debt mean?

Persistent debt is when you pay more in interest, fees and charges on your credit card than you have repaid of the amount you have borrowed for 18 months or more.

Typically, this means you’re making just the minimum payment each month on your credit card. So, most of the payment covers the interest, plus any fees and charges, with a smaller amount going towards repaying the balance. As you’ll see in the examples below, it’s an expensive way to borrow and means you’ll take a long time to pay off your balance.

How much will my credit card cost me?

For example, if you owe £3000 on a credit card with an interest rate of 24%

Minimum payment

Starting at £85 a month and reducing over time.

It'll take you 28 years and 4 months to pay it off and cost you £5,215 in interest.

A total cost of

  • Most expensive option

Fixed payment

At £85 a month.

It'll take you 4 years and 9 months to pay it off and cost you £1,824 in interest

A total cost of

  • You’ll save £3,391

Increased payment

At £100 a month.

It'll take you 3 years and 8 months to pay it off and cost you £1,365 in interest.

A total cost of

  • You’ll save £3,850

These examples are taken from UK Finance’s free calculator and assume that you don’t spend any more on your card or have any fees or charges. They also assume a minimum payment of 1% + interest (if you opened your account on or after 31 March 2011, that’s your minimum payment. For accounts opened before that, it’s 2% of the balance or 0.5% + interest, whichever is the greater).

See how changing your payments could help.

Check your latest statement for your balance and interest rates

I've received a letter about persistent debt.

The first letter at 18 months.

If you’ve been making low or minimum payments for 18 months we’ll let you know you are in persistent debt and how much you need to increase your payments to get out of it or how to get help.

How to get out of persistent debt

A second letter at 27 months.

If your account is still in persistent debt 9 months after that you’ll get another letter with updated information on how much you need to pay to get out of persistent debt or how to get help.

How to get out of persistent debt

A final letter at 36 months.

After 3 years of being in persistent debt we’ll write to you with some new terms and conditions that aim to help you pay off your balance and get you out of persistent debt. You’ll need to respond to the options laid out in the letter.

What should I do to get out of persistent debt?

Increase your payments, if you can.

We’ll send you letters at 18 and 27 months explaining how much you need to pay, if you can afford to, to remove your account from persistent debt. You can save yourself a lot of money over the long-term by increasing your payments.

You can increase your payments via Direct Debit. This will help you pay on time every month and avoid fees.

If you have the mobile app you can login and select the chat to us option or call us on 0345 835 3846 (lines open 8am to 8pm) to set up a Direct Debit to pay your credit card.

Other ways to pay my credit card

Ask us for help if you can’t pay more.

If you can’t increase your payments, or are worried about your credit card debt, the first thing you'll need to do is reach out to us and let us know about your financial situation. We can then work with you to try to make your monthly payments more affordable and get you out of persistent debt.

Call us on 0345 835 7453.
Lines open 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday. 9am to 1pm Saturday.

Want some money advice?

Get free impartial advice to help you manage your debts.

Worried about your finances?

Visit our money worries page for some help.

I’ve received a 36 month letter.

If your account has been in persistent debt for 36 months, you will have received a letter setting out your options. Even if you pay off your persistent debt balance straight away, you will still need to select one of the options, because we need to make sure your account can't fall into persistent debt in the future.

If you are able to pay off your debt in 4 years or less, and to make sure your account cannot fall into persistent debt again, we will make the following changes to your Terms and Conditions:

  • We will increase your minimum payment amount so that you can repay your persistent debt balance over four years
  • We will also make changes so that future spend cannot fall into persistent debt
  • If your current interest rate for cash withdrawals is different from the interest rate that applies to purchases, we will decrease your cash withdrawal rate so that it is the same as your purchase rate

See your letter for the changes to your terms and conditions and, If you are happy to accept these changes, please complete the form below.

We use Adobe Sign for this kind of request. Adobe will pass the information you provide to us in a secure manner and won’t process it in any other way. Information on how we use your data can be found in our Data Privacy Notice

Screen reader users are advised to use an alternative channel

You can also visit us in branch or call us on 0345 835 7453.
Lines open 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday. 9am to 1pm Saturday.

If you would like us to make the changes in Option 1, but are concerned that you will be unable to afford the higher minimum monthly payment please call us on 0345 835 7453, selecting option 1, then option 2. We will discuss the help we can give you to make your monthly payments affordable.

If you don’t want the changes in option 1, you can close your account. You’ll no longer be able to use your card and will need to pay off your balance at the current interest rate(s) applying to your account. However, this is likely to mean you’ll pay it off less quickly and pay more interest overall, so we would encourage you to consider this carefully.

To close your account call us on 0345 835 3846.
Lines open 8am to 8pm.

What happens if I do nothing?

If you've been in persistent debt and haven't chosen one of the three options above we will have to stop you using your card from the point in the letter, normally 30 days. We won't change your Terms and Conditions, which means you'll pay more interest and take longer to repay the balance. So we would encourage you to speak to us.

Where else can I get help?

If you don't want to talk to us just yet, there are organisations that offer free impartial advice to help you manage your debts.

Money Helper

0800 138 7777

Citizens Advice

0800 144 8848


0800 138 1111

National Debtline

0808 808 4000