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£2.8 billion of credit card debt to be transferred

4th January 2011 Print

Over 2.8 million credit card holders will shift a total debt of £2.8 billion onto new credit cards in 2011, according to new research from Santander Credit Cards. The figures indicate that Britons have been keeping a close check on their finances in recent years as the average balance transfer made by so-called ‘credit shifters' will be £1,015 - a figure that has fallen considerably since the end of 2008, when it was an average of £2,290.

The research shows that almost one in three (31 per cent) credit card holders with an outstanding balance are planning to transfer all or some of this debt to a new card next year, equivalent to 2.8 million adults in total. And around 1.5 million of these say they will do this within the first three months of the 2011.

Despite the average balance transfer being smaller than in 2008 and 2009, it appears that a significant part of this debt may have been incurred some time ago, as 3.6 million Brits admit that they are still paying off debts from Christmas 2009, equivalent to around £1.1 billion or £303 each.

Ian Coles, Director for Santander Cards, commented: "Our research shows that millions of people are switched on to the benefits of transfer offers and are choosing to take a proactive approach to managing their money, which is great to see. The fact that the average amount being transferred has fallen considerably over the past couple of years would also suggest that consumers have reined in their spending and that credit cards are being increasingly well managed.  January can be a particularly tough time financially, which is why we encourage consumers to keep a close eye on their finances and to shop around to ensure that they are receiving the best rates."

Younger adults are by far the keenest credit shifters, with 41 per cent of those aged 18 - 34 with an outstanding credit card balance planning to transfer this to a new card next year. In contrast only 14 per cent of over 55s intend to do the same although those who are planning a New Year's balance transfer will move on average £1,296 to their new card, which is considerably more than 18-34s who will only shift £923.

Interestingly men seem to be keeping closer tabs on their finances than women, as two in five (37 per cent) men with an outstanding balance plan to move this to another card next year, compared to just 25 per cent of females.  What's more, females plan to shift an average of £1,151 onto a new card in 2011, which is over a fifth (22 per cent) more than men who plan to transfer just £942.