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Thursday 07th Feb, 2019

Avoid the credit card trap

As people use credit for various reasons we have seen many of our members having balances with multiple different credit cards.

It can sneak up on us slowly, or it can hit us all at once due to some unexpected emergency where the credit cards seemed like the fastest available form of quick relief.

Either way, we see people who have run up multiple balances on different credit cards and it has started to put pressure on their budget.

As credit card balances rise, so do the monthly payments required to service them. Obviously, the more we can pay off the cards each month then the faster the balances will clear and the less we will pay in interest overall.

The problem comes with the minimum payment trap.


The Minimum Payment Trap

As our balances on multiple forms of credit increase so do our monthly repayments on each. This causes pressure on our monthly budgets and some people ease that pressure by reducing their monthly repayment on each credit card, or by spending again on the cards further increasing the balances.

It’s a vicious circle, and ultimately we end up paying just the minimum payments each month on each card. That’s a trap you want to avoid.


minimum payment example graphic

If you have built up a total of £10,000 of balance on one or more credit cards and are making minimum payments, it could take you over 22 years and cost you over £17,000 in interest alone to repay at minimum payments*. That’s even if you never spend on them again and if you are with fairly mainstream credit cards.   With higher rate cards the cost could be much higher.

Borrowing £10,000 from this credit union would clear the credit cards, be fully repaid in a maximum of 5 years and cost a maximum of just £2601 in interest**.

A saving of 17 years and £14399!

For BAE systems employees there's the additional benefit of payments coming right out of your salary before you get it so that you can more easily budget with your net income when it arrives in your bank.


Interest-Free Deals

Of course, not everyone is in this trap. Some people pay off their cards every month and never pay a penny in interest. The credit card companies must really dislike you! Others are borrowers who are lucky enough to be able to access interest-free cards. They monitor their financial situation and when one interest-free deal comes to an end they need to find another one, apply, be accepted and move their balances again. 

The problem with this type of borrowing is that it takes an effort to find the best deals and move the balances regularly. Balance transfers come at a fee which can be several hundred pounds for large balances. It can easily start to feel like you are spinning plates and at some point, those deals may just no longer be available to you, especially if rising balances and multiple credit applications start to impact on your credit score.

 person spinning plates

It may be better at some point to just bite the bullet, pay them all off with a fixed rate loan from your credit union and make the future more certain for yourself.

Whatever you decide, your own not-for-profit credit union has been supporting BAE systems people since 1982 and we will be here to listen.


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 *example based on a typical credit card provider assuming £10,000 balance APR 19.9% Minimum payment 2.25% of balance or £50 whichever is higher.

**Representative example borrow £10,000 over 60 months at repayments of £210.02 per month 9.5%(fixed) (9.9%APR) total repayable £12601.09

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