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Millions have credit card limit upped without permission, luring them into debt

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Written by: Paloma Kubiak
27/01/2016
Nearly 19 million credit card holders have had their credit limits increased without permission, a move which has led to 24% seeing their spending spiral, a price comparison site warns.

Research released by uSwitch shows the average unrequested credit limit increase is £1,300 but more than one in ten people have seen over £2,500 added to their cap.

In its sample of 2,003 UK adults who have a credit card, when asked whether their provider had ever increased their credit limit, 61% answered ‘yes, without asking’.

Applied to the 31.3 million UK credit card holders, the data suggests that 19 million people have had their credit limits increased without their consent.

uSwitch adds that 4.5 million of these people have been lured into more debt as a result.

Four in ten had no plan in place to manage the increase in monthly repayments and 61% are unaware it’s their responsibility to contact their provider to refuse the additional allowance.

A further 24% took on the unsolicited increase as it was too much hassle to contact the provider to reject it.

Are lenders allowed to do this?

Before 2010, consumers couldn’t even opt out of an unwanted increase. But consumers can now refuse a credit limit increase within 30 days of being informed by their provider.

However, uSwitch says this doesn’t go far enough and at a time when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is conducting a market study into credit cards, it’s calling on the regulator to push ahead with proposals to prohibit providers from raising credit limits unless requested by the customer.

‘Providers shouldn’t encourage customers to bite off more credit than they can chew’

Tashema Jackson, money expert at uSwitch.com, said: “With these increased limits often unrequested, unwanted and a surprise, spending beyond their means without considering the repayments could be an easy trap to fall into. But with household debt on the rise, providers shouldn’t encourage customers to bite off more credit than they can chew.

“Consent, and ultimately control over their finances, need to be in the hands of consumers. Too many are in the dark about how they need to opt out of increases, or fail to do so because of the effort it will take them to contact their provider.”

uSwitch adds that if customers do miss the 30 day window to opt out, they can still contact their provider to try to reduce their limit.

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