In this economic climate, many of us are faced with debts, far greater than we’ve ever experienced. The total UK personal debt currently stands at around the £1.5bn mark. The average household debt is approximately £16,500 (excluding mortgages) and it is estimated that 346,000 loan accounts are in arrears. However, even with these grim figures, credit companies are still more than happy to offer credit to anyone, it would seem.
Most of us will recognise the situation all too well; you’re weighed down with the day’s shopping and just about to pay for your goods at the till. Just before you hand over the cash, the cashier offers you a discount on all of your purchases if you sign up for a store card. “It’ll only take a second”. How could you possibly resist such an offer?
However this offer may sound at the time, you should always be wary; unless you are extremely careful with your money, store cards can come back and sting you in the future. In the UK, store cards have an APR of anything up to a staggering 30%.
Many store cards offer an interest free period, usually between 30-55 days. In this time you should aim to clear your balance and reap the full benefit of the discount you made when signing up. If there is a balance on your card after this period, be prepared for the interest to stack up.
With credit being offered left, right and centre, it is easy for debt to spiral out of control. What is being sold as a ‘convenience’ could actually end up putting you firmly in the red.
If you do take a store card, or any other credit card for that matter, make it your priority to make payments on time to avoid substantial late payment charges. Also, refrain from making the minimum payments. Pay as much as you can each month to clear the balance as quickly as possible.