Minimum repayments see credit card debt crisis deepen

14 July 2004
Paying back just the minimum each month on credit card bills could be leading consumers further into debt.

This has lead to calls for credit card companies to display warnings on statements of the "financial implications" of making just the minimum repayment.

MPs also want issuers to explain clearly how long it takes to repay a card debt at just the minimum.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) explained: "The Association for Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) has advised us that there are no credit card lenders that set minimum payments below the amount of interest to be added to the account each month."

But the Liberal Democrat MP for Norfolk North, Norman Lamb, says: "The government has failed to recognise that consumers could still end up with a rising debt when making minimum repayments. This must be addressed either through industry self-regulation or government action."

He continues: "The DTI has simply accepted Apacs's assertion. This does not describe the full picture."

However, Sandra Quinn, of Apacs, says: "We do not suggest that they rely on minimum repayments to clear debts. It is simply an option people can use if they need to."

Research published by Which? found that customers with big outstanding balances, who often repay interest charges plus a £5 charge, taking longer to clear a debt than borrowers with the other "big five" card issuers.