Shoppers warned over festive spending spreeMany could face New Year bank charges hangover

28 December 2006

A woman's hand swipes her credit card through a till.

Which? is warning many Britons face a New Year financial hangover after it emerged the average person has spent £700 on the Christmas season.

We estimate that Britain as a nation will have spent around £33 billion on food, alcohol, travel and presents over the festive period.

But our survey of more than a 1,000 people also found that nearly 30 per cent will have borrowed money to cover this festive spending spree.

Of these, 18 per will have racked up credit cards bills while the other 11 per cent will have borrowed on an overdraft.

But nearly 40 per cent of those using an overdraft to finance the holiday period think they are likely to go over their overdraft limit or go into the red without authorisation.

Expensive bank charges

This poor budgeting could result in expensive bank charges of between £25 and £30.

Of those who are in danger of incurring penalty fines, more than 70 per cent have not planned to speak to their bank in advance and try to increase the size of their overdraft limit.

Which? personal finance campaigner Doug Taylor said: ‘If you think you are going to be spending more like Santa than Scrooge over the holiday period try to keep within a set budget. If you know you are going to be over spending speak to your bank beforehand to arrange a sensible credit limit.

‘Just going over your overdraft limit by a few pence can result in unfair and excessive bank charges piling onto your bank account, making the situation worse - and there isn't much Christmas spirit from the banks when it comes to overdraft charges.

‘The banks definitely act more like the Ugly Sisters than the Fairy Godmother during the Christmas period. If the Christmas TV isn't keeping you enthralled, think about spending time using our site to claim your bank charges back.’

Template letters

The bank charges section of our website contains all the information needed to claim back up to six years worth of bank charges, including template letters for writing to a bank, Financial Services Ombudsman.

If you are looking to escalate your complaint to the small claims court, use our template letter before making a claim