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Credit Cards 'Not The Best Way To Pay For Christmas'

Nov 7, 2007
In the run-up to Christmas, cash registers across the country will be ringing as millions of consumers head to the streets and on to the internet to find the perfect Christmas presents for their friends and family. With the added cost that Christmas brings, many people choose to put their spending on a credit card, but recent research has suggested this is not the best way to ensure you have the funds to cover the perfect Christmas.

According to research from the new money saving website Savebuckets, around four in ten (41 per cent) used credit to pay for Christmas in 2006. However, just 29 per cent of those who used credit to fund their festive few days had paid their credit card off in January, while one in five are still paying for their Christmas spending, more than ten months after the event itself. With certain credit cards attracting high interest on any long-term balances, cheap loans could be a better way of paying for the time.

Marc Ames, marketing manager of Savebuckets, said: "Many Britons have struggled to pay off their credit card spending from last Christmas. With rising costs of living and interest rate hikes curbing spending power this year, it is likely that many will have to make cutbacks this Christmas." With a cheap loan, the debt hangover could possibly have been reduced.

The message to use personal loans rather than credit cards to fund the cost of Christmas has been supported by Sainsbury's Bank, suggesting that a personal loan is, in certain cases, a better method for using credit to buy presents than a credit card is. However, Steven Baillie, head of loans at Sainsbury's Bank, stressed that the use of credit for Christmas is dependant on the kind of festive purchases you will be making. "It really depends on what you're buying for Christmas. If you're buying that car for Christmas then I can understand it," he said.

Mr Ballie also said that despite the current consumer debt crisis, personal loans are still a very viable form of lending for people considering credit: "There's no doubt about it [that personal loans are a sensible way to borrow a large sum]. It comes back down to doing your homework, understanding that you're getting the best rate, understanding all the clauses, the small print etcetera, so there are no hidden charges."

The Savebuckets survey revealed that consumers from London are the most likely to borrow money at Christmas time, with 45 per cent falling into this bracket. Following London were East Anglia, Wales and Lancashire with 44 per cent borrowing to fund the festive spending. At 875 pounds per person, Lancashire was found to be the region with the highest spend at Christmas, followed by the Midlands (851 pounds) and the south (845 pounds).

Britannia earlier this year suggested that people were not planning for their Christmas spending ahead of time, which could lead to more people needing personal loans to finance their Christmas purchases. Almost one in four (37 per cent) said they would borrow money to cover the cost of Christmas.

In May this year, a survey by Thomas Charles revealed that more than a third of those over the age of 55 struggled to make their monthly repayments on personal loans and other borrowing. In younger age groups, the problem was also apparent - although not as prevalent - with 24 per cent of the 34 to 45 age group struggling to meet repayment demands. Director of the firm James Falla said that due to this "buy now, pay later" culture, it is "inevitable" that some groups would therefore run into financial difficulties.
About the Author
Steve Smith writes for 1 Stop Finance Shop. A one stop shop for all your loan requirements, from payday loans, to secured personal homeowner loans, and UK tenant loans.
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