Credit cards, loans and cancer

You can apply for a credit card from most banks in the UK. The credit card issuer will not usually ask about your state of health. You are not obliged to tell them about your cancer diagnosis or prognosis.

The bank will check your credit score. This helps them decide how likely you are to repay any money that they lend you.  

Credit card insurance

You might be offered insurance when you get a credit card. Insurance can cover you if your card is lost or stolen or it might cover your repayments if you lose your job, become ill or if you die. 

Before you take out any insurance, check the policy very carefully to make sure it offers you the cover that you need. 

Borrowing money with a credit card

Borrowing money with a credit card can be a quick way to pay for certain items. But the interest rate on credits cards can be very high. If you can't pay off the whole amount you owe each month, the debt can soon mount up. 

If you are struggling to pay off your credit card debt, let the credit card company know. They should try to find ways to help you. 

Citizens Advice has more information about credit cards and what to do if you are struggling to pay your credit card bill. 

Personal loans

Get advice before borrowing money or getting a loan. The interest on loans can be expensive. Choose the cheapest type of borrowing and make sure you can make the repayments. An independent financial advisor can help you decide on whether a loan is the right option for you.

You can usually still get a loan when you have had cancer. But you might not be able to get insurance to cover you if you can't make the repayments. 

Secured or unsecured loans

A secured loan is money that you borrow that is secured against something you own. Secured means that the lender needs something as security if you can't pay back the loan.

This could be your house, car, jewellery or other asset. This type of loan is risky. As if you can't pay back the loan, the lender can take (repossess) your home, car or other asset. 

The interest rate on a secured loan is often lower than an unsecured loan. 

An unsecured loan is not secured against something you own. So if you can't make the loan repayments, you don't have the risk of losing your house or car.

The interest rates on an unsecured loan may be higher. This can make the loan more expensive. If you are unable to make the loan repayments, it can affect your credit score or rating. 

Do I have to tell the lender about my cancer?

You don’t have to tell the lender about your cancer, but the lender will want to know whether you’re able to repay the loan. So they will need details of your income, regular outgoings, future plans and the reason why you want the loan.

Qualifying for a loan depends on your income, means and assets. So if you’re self employed and do not own your own home, you’re likely to find it more difficult to get a loan.

More advice and support

It's a good idea to talk things through with an independent financial advisor before borrowing money. Or get further advice from one of the following organisations. 

Step Change Debt Charity
They provide free debt advice and help you set up solutions to deal with money problems. 
Telephone: 0800 138 1111 Monday to Friday 8am - 8pm. Saturday 8am - 4pm.

Citizens Advice
A confidential service that offers advice and support on consumer issues and money problems. 
Helpline: (England): 0800 144 8848 
Helpline: (Wales): 0800 702 2020 

Money Advice Service
MoneyHelper is a free service provided by the Money and Pensions Service, backed by the government. 
Helpline: 0800 138 7777 (England) or 0800 138 0555 (Wales)

The Financial Services Register 
You can check if a lender is legal and find local financial services. 
Helpline: 0800 111 6768

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