Credit Cards and Payday Loans - Useful tools or debt burden?

Credit cards and payday loans are useful tools for making your money go further in the short term.

The basics

A credit card is a form of card based borrowing from banks, building societies and some high street stores up to an agreed credit limit. There is usually an interest free period in which to repay any sums borrowed for purchases on a credit card after which interest becomes payable.

A payday loan is a short-term advance designed to tide you over financially until payday. The loan is usually paid straight into your bank account, often within 24 hours of your application being approved. The repayment, plus interest or charges, is then taken directly from your bank account after your next pay day.

Potential problems

Interest rates for borrowing on credit cards are often far higher than that of bank overdrafts or other short term loans. At present the average rate of interest on a credit card is approximately 12-19%. Be wary of borrowing more on a credit card than you can afford to repay before incurring interest charges.

The typical charge for a payday loan is about £25 per month for every £100 borrowed. Advertised interest rates (APRs) can reach 2,000% or more. Pre-approved extension periods (known as deferrals or rollovers) and increasing loan amounts on offer make this a tempting option that could leave you in an unmanageable debt situation.

Potential benefits

Credit cards are useful for emergency purchases that you have not budgeted for within your normal monthly budget. Credit cards also offer greater protection than debit cards in certain circumstances, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Under these provisions the card company is 'jointly and severally liable' for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by a supplier of goods or services where the sums purchased are between £100 and £30,000. This enables you to claim back sums directly from your credit card company where there has been a breach of contract for example, where goods haven’t been delivered, or where a retailer has subsequently entered insolvency proceedings after taking your order.

Payday loans are useful to cover expenditure for a short period until you get paid. Yet again it can help where an emergency purchase is required. The loan can be applied for online and the money paid speedily into your bank account.


Be wary of how you use a credit card and payday loans. Consider whether they are the best method of funding a purchase. Due to the high rate of interest on credit card and payday loans a failure to meet monthly repayments or extending the term of a payday loan can quickly lead to your debts snowballing.

Always prioritise the repayment of your debts to ensure that once mortgage payments have been met you are repaying any liabilities with high rates of interest first.

The recession has left many people in a situation where they are struggling to meet monthly outgoings. Do not rely on obtaining credit as this can be just a short term fix. It is better to look at your overall income and expenditure position and look at alternative ways of keeping within your budget.

Elaine Wilcox
Insolvency Consultant

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