Almost five million Brits regularly turn to their credit cards for paying household bills, according to research from moneysupermarket.com.
The research reveals the extent to which many consumers are reliant on their credit cards for covering the cost of living, which can add to the cost of the payment if the balance is not paid off each month and incurs interest.
Kevin Mountford, head of banking at moneysupermarket.com, is concerned that consumers are using credit to cover every-day costs. "Used responsibly, credit cards can be an integral part of household budgeting but it's alarming to see so many people using their cards to pay for what should be everyday spending," he said.
Using credit cards in this way is a sign of being in financial difficulty, Mr Mountford warned.
There is a significant difference for paying for big items over a longer period – such as the convenience of spreading the cost of a new television, for example, using an interest-free credit card – but paying for food shopping with the credit card each week and repaying it over the following months is "a real no-no," Mr Mountford said.
Commenting on the figures which show that nearly half of Brits use their credit cards to pay for every day purchases such as groceries and petrol, Mr Mountford said: "Those consumers who are turning to credit cards to fund basic household bills on a regular basis should be hearing alarm bells, as this habit needs to be avoided wherever possible - it's really a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul."
Paying off the balance in full each month is the key to getting the greatest benefits out of a credit card, Mr Mountford explained, such as cashback or other rewards – otherwise they can become costly endeavours and "the interest you will pay outweighs any gains."
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