The latest Consumer Borrowing Index study by NerdWallet has revealed that a worrying 31% of Brits feel anxious when spending on credit, and almost one in 10 acknowledged feelings of depression after using credit cards, BNPL (Buy Now, Pay Later), or other credit schemes.
While 43% of respondents said they were comfortable using BNPL, more than one in 10 admitted that without credit, they would not be able to look after themselves or their families.
While credit can be used responsibly, there are risks. Since it is so widely available people can be tempted to spend what they don’t have or can’t pay back. Nearly one in five (18%) admitted to not knowing how much they would need to repay each month, and 22% of respondents said they will only pay the minimum monthly repayment on their credit cards.
On top of some feeling anxious or depressed about their current spending on credit, half (50.6%) of respondents said they were concerned about the ease of accessing credit schemes.
Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange, the UK’s leading debt charity and advice service, said: “These findings chime with our clients’ experience. Our own latest research indicates that over 6 million people say credit has had a negative impact on their health, relationships or ability to work in the last 12 months. Yet, too often, people who are struggling financially are offered more credit rather than interventions to help them get out of debt.”
Denise Ko Genovese, Senior Personal Finance Expert at NerdWallet, added: “With energy bills and National Insurance contributions going up this year, consumers can expect their cost of living to increase too, and should be cautious about relying on credit in everyday life.
“If spending on credit makes you feel anxious or depressed, it can be tempting to avoid tackling the situation altogether, but this will only make debt problems snowball and be harder to solve further down the line.”
Ko Genovese continued: “Getting to grips with your finances – how much you earn and how much you owe – is a great start. The important thing is to make a plan to help you get out of debt and be less reliant on credit in the future. A debt advice charity is an excellent first port of call.”
For those who find themselves in debt, the path out is often far from straightforward. Over a third (35%) of survey respondents said they did not know how to find debt help.
Of those who did, the most popular avenues for debt guidance were specialist debt advice services (41%) or their bank (33%).