Christmas can be an expensive time.  Research from American Express in late 2009 found that the average British family spends £469 on the festive period whilst a survey from a leading money website discovered that 17 per cent of adults planned to use credit cards to cover the cost of the holiday period.

Now, figures from the Post Office have found that many Brits turned to their credit cards to help them through January.

Over 11 million people use credit cards to get through New Year

The Post Office Consumer Credit report has revealed some shocking statistics about the UK’s dependency on plastic.  It found that credit cards funded the day-to-day living costs of over a third (35 per cent) of credit card holders.  That is some 11.5 million UK residents who turned to credit cards to help them meet their outgoings in January 2011.

The report also found that 11 per cent of January’s credit card users relied on their cards to help them offset overspending during the expensive Christmas period.

Credit card usage set to stay high in 2011

The Post Office research also discovered that seven per cent of people intend to spend a greater amount on their credit card over the course of 2011.  17 per cent of these respondents said that their expenditure may increase by up to £200 per month.

Az Alibhai, Post Office head of credit cards, said: “If the debt is managed sensibly and paid off quickly, this can be very effective. However, if you don’t pay off the bill in full, it can be a pricey way to fund daily purchases.”

If you have a credit card balance carried over from Christmas, it will pay to shop around to take advantage of some of the excellent New Year balance transfer deals.  The Daily Telegraph this week highlighted Barclaycard’s Platinum with Balance Transfer Visa, which offers 0 per cent on balance transfers for 17 months.  A balance transfer fee of 2.9 per cent, minimum £7.25, is payable.

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