Confessions of credit card user

One-in-10 Britons have been through a relationship break-up or even a divorce as a result of their secret credit card spending, according to our research here at MoneySuperMarket.

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Playing it straight?

Our survey, which investigated the nation’s credit card spending habits, also revealed that a considerable 15% of us lie to our partners about our plastic purchases – mostly because we know they wouldn’t approve of our actions.

Of those who admitted lying about their credit card spending, more than a third (36%) said it was because they knew their other halves would be angry and a further 35% said they knew their partners would simply disapprove.

One of the main reasons for this is that the items bought were ‘far from essential’.

While half of the respondents to the survey said they only used their credit cards to cover everyday living costs such as utility bills, rent, petrol and food when money was tight, the other 50% splash the plastic cash on nice-to-have items such as clothes and shoes.

Clare Francis, editor-in-chief at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Clearly some people keep the amount they spend on their credit card close to their chest, which is not necessarily an issue as long as they are honest with themselves and keep on top of their bills.

“However, secret spending can cause relationship problems, particularly if it is on non-essential items, and with budgeting so important for many households, this isn’t really surprising.”

Other big-ticket credit card purchases that Britons have hidden from their loved ones even go as far as cosmetic surgery such as boob jobs and, perhaps even more bizarrely, people’s own funerals.

And, while women feel guiltier about their credit card shopping, it is in fact men who spend the most on plastic: the average British man spends £360 a month on credit cards, compared to a £274 monthly spend by a typical woman.

There are some other surprises too. For example, even if you find out that your partner has been making credit card purchases behind your back, 14% of the Britons who have lied about plastic spending only did so to hide the purchase of a surprise gift for their partners.

Also surprising is the finding that older Britons are more likely to use credit cards to buy frivolous items such as new clothes. A massive 64% of over 55s use their plastic this way, compared to just 38% of 18 to 24-year-olds.

Getting the best deal

But whatever your age, if you are planning on funding a spending spree with your plastic, at least get something back by using a cashback or rewards card.

You will need to clear the balance every month to make these cards worthwhile however so if this isn’t possible in the near future, a 0% purchase credit card is a better idea as you won’t pay interest for up to 18 months on some of the best deals.

And for those keen to pay off their guilty purchases, it’s still not too late. Shop around for a card offering 0% on balance transfers, which will give you more than two years to pay down your existing balance without charging a penny of interest. You will have to pay a balance transfer fee though, and won’t be able to transfer the debt to a card fro, the same provider.

You can read more with our infographic, Confessions of a credit card user.

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct

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