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    Britons who plan to transfer their credit card balances to avoid charges could find themselves unable to do so and stuck with high rates in the wake of the credit crunch, an expert has commented.

    Price comparison website uSwitch.com has warned providers are tightening up their lending criteria with some already reducing credit limits and rejecting new applicants.

    Mike Naylor, personal finance expert at uSwitch.com, said for many the credit crunch could become "harsh reality" when they next seek to transfer their balance.

    "A large number of customers may not be able to get another zero per cent deal and end up stuck with their existing provider, paying the an average APR of 16.52 per cent," he warned.

    Such an increase in the cost of debt could encourage some Britons to become debt-free.

    For those with problematic debt, an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) may help their situation as it ensures they only have to pay an affordable amount each month and freezes interest.

    IVAs set the borrower debt-free within a set period of time, often five years, and unaffordable debt can be written off.

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