Persistent debt

What is ‘persistent debt’?

This is where you pay more in interest, fees and charges over an 18-month period than you do towards the amount you’ve borrowed on your credit card. 

This can happen if you’ve been making minimum or low monthly payments over a long period of time. This means it will take you longer to repay what you owe and cost you more in interest. This may be referred to as persistent debt or long term credit card debt. There are rules we must follow and guidance we have to give to help credit card customers deal with it.

How will you know if you’re in persistent debt?

If you’re in persistent debt, you’ll receive a letter or email from us, with options on how you can repay your balance. Review the option that relates to you to find out more.

At 18 months then again at 27 months

We’ll send you a letter or an email to let you know that you’re in persistent debt.

This will explain the benefits of increasing your payments to reduce how much of interest you pay.

We’ll also show you ways to reduce your balance (like increasing your Direct Debit or making extra payments) and where to find help.

At 36 months

If you’re still in persistent debt, we’ll write or email to tell you about the following things.

  • How much your persistent debt balance is.
  • The date your persistent debt balance needs to be repaid.
  • Your repayment options, such as setting up or increasing your Direct Debit for a fixed amount. This will be more than your usual minimum payment, to help so that you can start to reduce your balance faster.

You’ll need to make sure the persistent debt balance is paid back within a maximum of 4 years.

If no action is taken by the date we give you, or you don’t keep on top of your increased payments, your credit card will be blocked. This means that you won’t able to use your card or withdraw cash.

If you’re not able to clear the balance or are struggling to make payments, please contact us to talk about your options.

We'll also give you some details about other organisations that can help with debt advice and other information.

What happens after 4 years

If you’ve paid your persistent debt balance in full, then we don’t need anything else from you. You’ll be able to use your card.

If you have an outstanding balance after 48 months, we’ll write to let you know how much you need to pay and by which date. If we haven't already, we’ll need to block your credit card which will mean you can longer spend on it.

If you’re not able to clear the balance or are struggling to make payments, please contact us to talk about your options.

Once your balance has been fully repaid, your account will be closed. We’ll let you know about this by writing to you.

Why is it important you take action?

Being in debt means you can’t enjoy spending money on things without having to worry about your repayments and can lead to stress and can affect your credit file. Repaying your debt is important for you and gives you more freedom to do the things you enjoy. If you'd like further support, please visit our if finances are a struggle page.

What can you do?

Paying more each month will reduce the interest you are charged and cut the time that it takes to pay off your balance.

Here's an example of how an increase in payments reduces the interest and the repayment period on a credit card balance of £1,500 with an APR of 23.9% 

With a credit card balance of £1,500 and APR of 23.9%If you make the minimum payment each monthIf you make a fixed paymentIf you increase your fixed payment
Monthly paymentStarts at £42 and reduces each month as the balance decreases£50£75
How much interest you’ll pay£2,500£683£379
Interest saved by paying moren/a£1,817£2121
Time to pay off the balance22 years and 5 months3 years and 8 months2 years and 1 month

Remember, the only way to avoid this type of debt is to pay off more than the minimum payment, and ideally, as much as you can each month. This way you’ll save money on interest charges and repay your debt in less time.

If you can afford to, one of the ways that might help your account out of persistent debt is to make a one-off additional payment.  You can set up or amend a direct debt to fixed amount. To find out more, see our repayments page.

Repayment calculator

You can use our credit card repayment calculator to see how increasing your monthly payments will help.

Option 1

Log on to Online Banking and make a payment from either your Santander current account or from an account with another bank or building society.

Option 2

Set up a new payee from the Santander Mobile Banking app and make a payment. You’ll need the following details:

Sort code: 09-00-99

Account number: 01000007

Reference: your 16 digit Santander credit card number

Option 3

You can set up a bill payment from another UK bank or building society using the details in option 2. You’ll need to contact your bank to do this.

Option 4

You can also make cash and cheque payments over the counter in any of our branches. You’ll need your credit card details to hand. Please allow one working day for cash payments to clear and 7 working days for cheques to clear.

Taking out a loan to pay off your balance. If you can take out a personal loan charging less interest than your card you’ll have one monthly repayment at a fixed rate, and there will be no new interest charges to increase what you owe.

If you've received a letter to say you've been in persistent debt for 36 months and you're considering a loan, please call us on 0330 678 2440. Before applying take a look at the Key Facts Document (PDF - 782 KB) and Terms and Conditions. (PDF - 83 KB)

There are a number of organisations that can give you free impartial debt advice. These organisations aren’t linked with Santander and they can help you manage your creditors and debt problems. 

You can find independent help and support here.

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