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What to do if you fall behind on debt repayments

If your circumstances change and you find you’re falling behind on your debt repayments, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

It’s important to know that, while things can be difficult, you’re not alone. Reaching out to the right people, or taking the right action at the right time, can help you get back on track.

Make a clear list

List out all your debts and how much they’re for. It can be useful to differentiate between priority debts and non-priority debts. Priority debts are those that have larger consequences than non-priority debts if you don’t repay them. 

For example:

  • priority debts – mortgage, rent, gas and electricity bills, council tax and court-ordered payments
  • non-priority debts – credit cards, overdrafts, hire purchase agreements, unsecured bank loans, water bills and loans from friends and family1

From your budget – the amount you have available to spend each month – see if there's enough money to cover the priority debts. If there is, start with these and set yourself a goal for reducing the other debts over time.

If there’s not, it’s important to get immediate help before you get further behind on repayments.

Speak to the companies you owe

You may be able to come to an agreement with companies you owe. This may make it easier to meet your repayments, particularly if the issue is likely to be short term. 

Call them and explain your situation to see if they’re able to provide assistance. Ideally they can help you create a repayment plan that’s manageable and will prevent you from missing any future payments.

If you’re an HSBC customer and you’ve missed a loan, or credit card payment, or you're concerned about your current overdraft position, or you're worried about missing one in the future, we can help.

Call our team of specialists on 0800 085 2482 to get a helping hand. If you’re worried about missing a mortgage payment, please call 0345 850 0633.

Lines are open:

  • 08:00-18:00, Monday to Friday
  • 08:00-16:00, Saturday

Please note, lines will not be open Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.2

Consider debt consolidation

In some instances, a debt consolidation loan may be able to help. It can bring all your debts into one loan to give you a clearer view of your repayments and a single interest rate.

However, a debt consolidation loan shouldn’t be used to cover upcoming bills, nor will it stop them continuing to come in. And while you may be able to make repayments more affordable by spreading them over a longer term, this could mean you end up paying more in interest over time.

Reach out for help

If you’re struggling to make ends meet it can be a good idea to speak with friends and family, as well as trained professionals about your situation.

It may feel difficult, but starting the conversation with someone you trust may help relieve some of the pressures you may be feeling.

You can also use this free calculator to find out if you’re missing out on unclaimed government benefits and allowances.

If you want to get professional advice there are a number of organisations that can help. You can find out about free independent money advisers in your area from:

If your mental health is affecting the way you manage your money, we have a range of services available to support you.

What happens if you don't make repayments?

If you miss repayments, you may be charged a fee. It can also impact your credit score, making it harder to borrow money in the future.

If you miss repayments on a secured loan like a mortgage, there's also the possibility that your home may be repossessed.

What next?

No matter what your financial situation looks like, you can make some positive changes. You can find more help on managing debt with our range of guides. 

Money Advice Service

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