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Help and advice for customers facing persistent (or long-term) debt

We’ll help you identify if you’re in persistent (or long-term) debt on your credit card and provide repayment advice.

What is persistent or long-term debt?

‘Persistent or long-term debt’ means that you’re paying more in interest, fees and charges over an 18-month period than you are towards the amount you've borrowed on a credit card. Persistent and long-term debt mean the same thing, but we’ll refer to this from now as ‘long-term debt’.

Overall, it means it will take you longer to repay what you owe and cost you more in interest and charges. 

As a responsible lender, we aim to help credit card customers in this situation avoid long-term debt. If we identify that you are in long-term debt, we’ll get in touch to let you know and give advice. 

How does someone get in long-term debt?

This can happen if you've been making minimum or low monthly payments for a long time. 

It doesn’t mean that you’ve done anything wrong. However, it’s important that you know how much extra this could cost you.  

‘Contractual minimum payments’ means the lowest amount possible which banks are happy to accept, and these are subject to legal requirements. Although these can help make your finances easier to control in the short term, it can get very expensive in the long run.

For example, if you have £3,000 debt at 19.9% APR and you continue to make the minimum payment of £50, it will take you over 27 years to pay off the entire outstanding balances on your card. However, if you can increase this amount to £80 (an additional £30) per month, it will take just over 5 years.

How do I know if my account is in long-term debt?

We'll be in touch by post to let you know. This letter will provide you with information about what long-term debt is (it may be referred to as ‘persistent debt’ in the letter), and how you could save money on interest (and therefore pay the overall amount faster) by paying a bit more each month. You'll be shown various ways to increase your monthly payments on your statement if you can afford to.

If you get this letter, you’ll need to get in touch with us to talk about your options. We’ll do what we can to help you find a way of paying the debt back quicker. Over time we may stop you using your card, but will only do this if there is a good reason to do so.

If we don’t hear from you, we’ll have to suspend your account. This will only be after we’ve tried to contact you multiple times. You can see the timeframe to expect below. If your account is suspended, you won’t be able to borrow any more money. If you have a credit card, it will no longer work.

It’s important to also know that your credit rating may be affected if you can’t afford to keep making the minimum payments on your account, and either miss payments or have to make smaller payments as a result. If your credit rating is affected, you may find it harder to borrow more money or open new accounts in the future. 

What to expect

After 18 months

  • We’ll recommend that you check your credit card account balance and increase your monthly payments if you can. This way your card balance will be paid off quicker.

We’ll continue to monitor your account and will write to you again in 9 months to let you know how you’re doing.

After 27 months

  • At this point it’s important that you increase your monthly payments if you can.

We’ll send you a letter to let you know if you have been paying enough back to avoid long-term debt and to keep this up, or to let you know that you are still only paying back more in interest and fees than you have paid off in your balance. We’ll continue to monitor your account and we will write to you again in 9 months’ time to explain the next steps.

After 36 months

  • At this time, it is essential that you contact us to agree a repayment plan. 

You will receive one of two letters. Either confirmation that your account is out of long-term debt, but we’ll continue to monitor your account to help you stay on track or,

if your account is still in long-term debt, we’ll write to you about your options to help you pay your balance back. To prevent further increases to your balance, we may suspend your card.

What can I do to get out of long-term debt?

We’ll contact you about being in long-term debt. If you get this letter and it is possible for you to increase your monthly payments, then we’d recommend increasing them to the point that you’re paying more than you pay in interest or charges over the following 18 months. Here's some options that could help:

Complete a budget planner

You may find this budget planning tool opens in new window helpful.

If you can, pay more than the minimum amount

See different ways to pay.

Stop spending on the card and increase your monthly payments

By doing this, you'll see your credit card balance reduce quicker. Use this credit card repayment calculator opens in new window to work out how much more you’ll need to pay each month to clear your debt quicker.

Speak to us

We may be able to suspend interest and charges on your current card for a while. We recommend getting in contact to see what options you have before moving your long-term debt to a loan or card at another bank.  

What happens if I stay in persistent or long-term debt?

You’ll be paying off the amount you borrowed for longer, and could end up paying much more overall. This means your borrowing will cost more than you may have originally anticipated. If you are able to pay more each month, you will pay off your balance quicker and you’ll pay less interest. 

To get an idea of the difference, and why it’s important for you to contact us about your options, see the example in the table below based on a £3,000 balance with an APR of 19.9%, a minimum payment amount of 1% plus interest and fees and no further spend on the card:

Outstanding amount Minimum monthly payment* Additional monthly payment Total monthly payment Time taken to repay
£3,000.00 £50.00 £- £50.00 More than 27 years
£3,000.00 £50.00 £30.00 £80.00 5 Years
£3,000.00 £50.00 £50.00 £100.00 3.5 Years
£3,000.00 £50.00 £75.00 £125.00 2.5 Year

*Minimum payment will increase or decrease as the balance changes

To find out more about how long it will take you to repay your balance, how much interest you might pay and how much you could save by paying more than the minimum each month, go to the UK Finance Calculator opens in new windowThere you will find an independent calculator provided by UK Finance.

If you're in long-term debt after 36 months, we'll write to you and go through your options.

This will include moving onto a payment plan. This is where your monthly payment would change to the amount you'd need to pay to clear your balance over 3 or 4 years. This means you'd pay less interest and pay your balance off more quickly. 

If you don't get in contact with us after 36 months, we may suspend your card to stop you from increasing the balance further.

To learn more about your options, such as the estimated time to pay off your existing balance, you can try the UK Finance Calculator opens in new window

Need help with the cost of living?

If you’re worried about keeping up with the cost of living, you’re not alone. To help you make the best decisions for you and your family, we’ve put together a range of resources, tips and tools that you can use whenever you need them. Visit our cost of living hub.


We hope we’ve explained long-term debt. You may have other questions, so we’ve put together these answers to frequently asked questions.

If I’m contacted about long-term debt, have I done something wrong?

No, you’re not being contacted because you’ve done anything wrong. As a responsible lender, we aim to better equip customers to pay less overall. It’s up to us to let you know you could pay less over a shorter amount of time. If you stay in long-term debt without taking action, it could result in your card being suspended.

Who should I contact for more help?

We recommend you read all of the information on this page about long-term debt. You can also call us on the following numbers*:

Credit card enquiries
Lines are open 8am - 7pm, Mon - Fri
8am - 5pm, Sat - Sun
Phoning from inside the UK 08085 40 50 60 *
Phoning from outside the UK +44 131 549 8040 *

Online Banking helpdesk
Lines are open 8am - 7pm, Mon - Fri
8am - 5pm, Sat - Sun
Phoning within the UK 08085 40 50 60 *
Phoning from outside the UK +44 131 549 8040 *

*Telephone calls may be recorded for security purposes and monitored under our quality control procedures. Calls are free from a landline and from a mobile when calling from the UK.
**Calls are charged at local rates from landline and mobiles.

What should I do next if my credit card is in long-term debt?

To get your credit card account out of long-term debt, you should increase your monthly repayments to more than the contractual minimum amount if you can afford to. Your minimum payment is provided on your monthly credit card statement. As a normal guide your payment should be double the interest, fees and charges applied to your account.

You can use this calculator provided by UK Finance to look at different repayment options opens in new window

The best way to get out of persistent debt is by setting up a Direct Debit. You can do this through Online Banking, via our Mobile Banking App or through our contact centres on 0808 108 0017*

If making changes to your repayments doesn’t feel affordable, or if losing the use of your card would cause you serious worry, we’re here to help and support you. Just call us on 0808 108 0017*

Where can I find more information about managing my finances if I’m in long-term debt?

You can find support on managing your finances at:

Citizens Advice 
opens in new window

UK Finance 
UK finance calculator: 
opens in new window

Payplan offer an online debt solution tool as well as free live chat and email support.
For loans and credit cards go to
opens in new window or call 0800 280 2816

Money Helper
Go to
opens in new window for free:

Citizens Advice Bureau
Go to
opens in new window for plenty of information about how to manage your money and start getting your finances back in shape.

StepChange Debt Charity
Go to
opens in new window for free support and advice about practical ways to get on top of your finances.

National Debtline
Go to
opens in new window for free information and advice, including their four-step plan for dealing with debt.

Money Advice Scotland
Go to 
opens in new window to be put in touch with a money adviser in your area who can give you free advice and support when it comes to overcoming your money problems.

You might also like to try:

  • opens in new window for free legal advice and support for homeowners, including how to avoid losing your home
  • opens in new window to find out whether you can claim any benefits or other grants to help you if you lose your job or become ill
  • opens in new window for ways to save money and make the most of your income.

FCA warning on unauthorised firms

We would recommend you only use financial firms that are authorised or registered by the FCA as this gives you greater protection. You can find information from the FCA about unauthorised firms at the links below.

How do I increase my minimum payment?

You can do this in several ways:

Online Payment
You can make a payment towards your balance anytime through our credit card app or online banking. You'll need to register to use the app or online banking. Once your online payment is complete it can take between 1 and 4 days to be processed.

Credit Card App

  1. Download the app and log in.
  2. Select 'Payments' at the bottom of the screen.
  3. Options to make a payment are in the 'Other ways to pay’.

Online Banking

  1. Log in to your account. Not registered yet? Register here.
  2. Click on 'My Accounts’.
  3. Select 'Make a payment' for your credit card account.

Direct Debit
You can set up a Direct Debit through online banking by:

  1. Logging into your account. Not registered yet? Register here
  2. Selecting 'My Accounts'.
  3. Selecting 'Account Details'.
  4. And selecting 'Set up a Direct Debit' on the right-hand side of the screen.

You’ll be able to set up a Direct Debit for either the minimum payment, your statement balance or a fixed amount. Please note if you are setting up a direct debit for the first time and want to pay a fixed amount, you must set up a minimum payment direct debit first and then amend this to a fixed amount.

What will happen if I miss my payments?

Until you make an arrangement to repay the amount you owe, you're behind on your payments. For as long as you're one month or more behind, we'll charge you fees, as set out in our Tariff of Fees and Charges. In addition, as your balance will be higher, you'll pay more interest too.

We have to inform credit reference agencies that you've missed a payment – and this could make it hard for you to get credit if you need it in future.

If you do miss a monthly payment, get in touch with us as soon as you can – we want to help. Call us on 08085 40 50 60* and we'll go through the details and talk through all your options. Calls to this number are free from landlines and mobiles.

For more details on how to make payments on your card please visit our credit card support page.

Problems with your next payment?

If you don't think you're going to be able to make your next payment then we'd strongly recommend you call our customer payment support team on 0800 085 6934 to discuss your options. Calls to this number are free from landlines and mobiles. Our lines are open: Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and from 8am to 4pm on Saturdays.