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1 June 2022

How UK credit card borrowing is surging

The annual credit growth rate of 11.6 per cent is the highest since November 2005

By Michael Goodier

Credit card borrowing is surging as the cost-of-living crisis squeezes people’s pay packets.

Figures from the Bank of England show that there was £60.9bn of credit card debt outstanding at the end of April, up from £56bn at the same point last year.

The annual growth of 11.6 per cent is the highest since November 2005. Other consumer borrowing (such as overdrafts or other advances) also grew. The overall growth rate for consumer borrowing was 5.7 per cent, the highest since before the pandemic.

The Bank said that this was the third consecutive month where additional total borrowing has been higher than the 12 months before the pandemic.

Despite the rapid increase, the volume of credit card borrowing remains below pre-pandemic levels. Covid-19 and lockdowns meant people dramatically reduced spending on non-essentials.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown said: “We’re still borrowing far less on our cards than before the pandemic. Instead, we can see risks starting to build. 

“Anyone who is falling back on their card to make ends meet right now may not have an overwhelming card bill yet, but if they can’t cut their spending, there’s a real worry it could get out of hand in the coming months.”

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In March research from the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, showed that before the energy price cap rise was introduced, one in four UK adults had used credit to pay for bills or essentials such as food, water, energy, rent and council tax in the previous three months.

[See also: How the rich have profited from a 13-year stock market boom]

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