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

One of the first things that can help is listing out your debts and how much they’re for. It can be useful to differentiate between priority debts and non-priority debts.

  • 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 and payday loans, water bills and loans from friends and family1

From your budget, 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.

Explore more: How to create a budget

Speak to the companies you owe

You may be able to come to an agreement with companies you owe, which will make it easier to meet your repayments, particularly if the issue is likely to be short term. Speak to them to see whether there are alternative options that can give you a little bit of breathing space.

If you’re an HSBC customer and you’ve missed a payment or are worried about missing one in the future, call our team of specialists on 0345 850 0622 to get a helping hand. Lines are open:

  • 8am to 9pm, Monday to Thursday
  • 8am to 6pm, Friday
  • 8.30am to 4pm, Saturday2

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

Consider debt consolidation

In some instances a debt consolidation loan may be able to help. A debt consolidation loan can bring all your debts into one loan to give you a clear path towards repayment with just one rate of interest.

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.

Explore more: What is a debt consolidation?

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.

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:

The following helpline services can offer help and advice: 

What happens if you don't make repayments?

If you miss repayments, you may be charged a fee and it can also damage your credit score, which means it may be harder to borrow in the future.

If you miss repayments on a secured loan like a mortgage, there is also the possibility that the home will be repossessed.

Explore more: What is a credit score?

What next?

1https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/how-to-prioritise-your-debts

2We accept calls via Text Relay. To help us improve our service, and in the interests of security, we may monitor and/or record your call.