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Will you spend Christmas on a credit card?

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It’s only two months until Christmas and already some people have thought in advance: they’ve purchased all their gifts and planned how they’ll spend the festive occasion. But for others, they may be worrying about how they are going to afford the latest craze in toys for their children, on their monthly income.

Many will turn to the use of credit cards to funds their holiday season, but figures released today by Moneysupermarket suggest that consumers with a balance of £500 on a card with an average APR of 18.12pc could take 11 years and eight months to clear their debt if they make only the minimum repayment of 2.5pc each month. That’s means Christmas 2012 could produce a financial hangover which lasts well into 2023.

Kevin Mountford, head of banking at Moneysupermarket, said: "The decision to use a credit card shouldn't be taken lightly and careful budgeting is essential to ensure people can pay off their Christmas debt quickly, and within the next 12 months, or, as our findings show, they could be left paying for Christmas 2011 for many years to come."

The rising cost of living means everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment so I would urge those people considering using a credit card to think twice, is there another way to make those purchases? Perhaps by joining a savings scheme or buying cheaper alternatives.

We help people everyday with debt problems, including those with credit card debts. There are lots of ways to deal with debt problems. The important thing is that people seek help. We recognise that being in debt is very stressful and difficult. We are here to help guide you through the minefield and find the appropriate option for you.

By consumer solicitor and Stephensons’ Partner, Liam Waine