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Credit card write-offs at record levels

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The amount of money that banks are writing off as bad debts on their credit cards has dramatically increased.

Bank of England figures show that the total value of the write-offs doubled to £1.6bn in the third quarter of 2009.

In each of the two preceding quarters, the figure had been about £800m. It totalled £3.2bn during 2008.

The figures are a nod from the banks that the money will never be repaid by defaulting borrowers.

Vast amounts of money, reaching billions of pounds, are set aside each year by banks and other lenders to cover potential losses on credit cards, mortgages, overdrafts, and personal loans.

Only when the loss is crystallised as unrecoverable is the money finally written off.

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