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Over-55s credit card debt reaches six-year high

Paloma Kubiak
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Paloma Kubiak

Credit card debt among those aged 55 and over has reached a six year high of £1,052, up 9% from the previous year.

Both secured and unsecured debts are a growing concern for over 55s.

According to Aviva’s Real Retirement Report, credit card debt is considerably higher among those in employment. Those over 55s with jobs owe 76% more (£1,296) than their retired counterparts (£737).

This age group is also turning to other forms of unsecured debt, including personal loans and overdrafts.

Aviva found the average amount owed on overdrafts is at a modest £91, but this figure has increased 17% in the past year and is at its highest point since winter 2015.

Looking at all debt accumulated (excluding mortgages), the over 55s who are working were found to owe twice as much (£1,490) as those who had retired already (£1,314). Servicing the debt may be a reason why people work later in life, said Aviva.

The report also found that almost a third (31%) of homeowners aged 55+ are still paying off a mortgage, compared to just 8% of retirees.

The average amount spent on housing by this group has decreased from £315 per month in 2016 to £295 in 2017, which is likely to be influenced by low interest rates.

However, the average mortgage debt is now £68,612, up 14% since last year (£60,106 – Q2 2016), which could be linked to an increase in people carrying interest-only mortgage debt into retirement.

Lindsey Rix, managing director, savings and retirement at Aviva, said: “A growing number of Britons are prolonging their working lives and our findings suggest the goal of a debt-free retirement may be one factor behind this. The approach to retirement is ideally a time for saving and careful financial planning, but with the rising cost of living, many people are having to resort to borrowing and still have mortgage repayments to factor into their budgets.

“With widespread speculation that interest rates may rise for the first time in over a decade, this record level of debt is worrying. An increase in the cost of borrowing will undoubtedly create challenging conditions for people to navigate on the approach to retirement.”