Fianna Fáil TD for Waterford Mary Butler has called on the main banks and credit card providers to examine whether interest breaks could be offered to customers worried about credit card debt.

She says they could use the terms of the mortgage break as the basis for an agreement with customers.

“The COVID-19 crisis is placing a huge financial strain on people here in Waterford, and right across the country. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and are reliant on the €350 a week Pandemic Unemployment Payment, which could be a significant reduction in income”, said Deputy Butler.

“I have had a number of queries in recent weeks from people worried about the interest on their credit cards – some may have made a substantial purchase after Christmas, while others simply hadn’t paid off the balance – and now they’re worried about only meeting the minimum payments and the amount of interest they will incur.

“Banks and other financial institutions were able to grant mortgage breaks for customers who found themselves either out of work, or with a substantially reduced income, as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions. I believe they could look at something similar for those people worried about credit card debt.

“An interest break could take the pressure off these people in the short-term, at a time when they are bearing the most difficult financial burden. Much like the mortgage break, the payments could be deferred for a number of months. This is not an endorsement of credit card debt but is a bid to reflect the reality of the situation for so many and to try and ease the short-term financial pressure on them at this very difficult time”.