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What to do if you fall behind on debt repayments

If your circumstances change and you’re falling behind on debt repayments, help is available.

It can be difficult to know where to begin but remember – 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 the amount owed on each. You may even want to write down the interest rates, so you can see which debts have the highest rate of interest. 

It can be useful to differentiate between priority debts and non-priority debts. 

Priority debts have larger consequences if you don’t repay them, for example your mortgage or a court-ordered payment. Non-priority debts include credit card repayments or unsecured bank loans, for example. 

Non-priority debts still have consequences if not repaid but it’s important to focus on repaying the priority debts first. 

Create a budget to see how much you have available to spend each month once the necessities are covered. You’ll then be able to see if you have enough money to cover the priority debts. If you have, 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.

Explore: Where to go for assistance

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 help. 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 (or are worried about missing) a payment, we can help. 

Visit our money worries support page for more information.

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. 

A debt consolidation loan shouldn’t be used to pay upcoming bills (unless it’s the unsecured debts being cleared off), nor will it stop them continuing to come in. You’ll need to remember to repay any debts which are not automatically cleared off as part of the debt consolidation loan.

While spreading your repayments over a longer term can make them more affordable, you could 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 can help relieve some of the pressure you may be feeling.

Use this free calculator to find out if you’re missing out on unclaimed government benefits and allowances.

There are also 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.

Explore: 5 reasons to care about your credit score