Best ways to pay off your debts – England and Wales

Money Advice Service

Find out about the different ways to deal with debts if you are falling behind with day-to-day bills, loan and credit card repayments or other financial commitments, like your rent or mortgage. Then get some free debt advice before you make a decision.

Need someone to talk to about your finances?

If you’re struggling with money, you can talk to someone today, online, by phone or face to face. We have specially trained advisers who can help you start sorting out your financial problems.

Find free, confidential advice now using our free debt advice locator tool.

Debt Management Plan (DMP)

  • allows you to pay back your debts at an affordable rate
  • you make one monthly payment to the DMP provider
  • your DMP provider will help you work out an affordable payment and talk to your creditors
  • suitable if you have non-priority debts like credit or store cards, overdrafts and personal loans.
Find out more information on Debt Management Plans.

Debt Relief Order (DRO)

  • suitable if you are on a low income with very few assets
  • freezes debt for a year then writes it off completely if your circumstances haven’t changed.
Find out more about Debt Relief Orders.

Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA)

  • allows you to pay back what you can afford
  • lasts a set amount of time (usually 5 or 6 years)
  • anything you haven’t paid off by the end is written off
  • Is a legally binding agreement – this means once you’ve signed it, neither you nor your creditors can back out of it.
Use our guide to find out more about IVAs


  • allows you to make a fresh start
  • writes off all debts you can prove you owe
  • if you have any assets, they will be taken and used to pay off your debts.
Find out more about Bankruptcy.

Offer in full or final settlement

Use our Debt Health Check tool to help you work out a plan to overcome your financial issues, today!

If you have a lump sum that would cover part of your debts, you could ask your creditors whether they would accept a part payment and allow you to write the rest off.

Alternatively, they might allow you to make monthly payments for an agreed period after which the balance is written off.

Find out where to Get free debt advice

Writing off your debts

  • suitable in exceptional circumstances if you have no available income, savings or assets
  • you must be able to show your creditors that your circumstances are unlikely to improve in future, for example, if you’re severely ill.

Administration Order

You might be able to apply to County Court for an Administration Order if you:

  • owe under £5,000 in total
  • can afford to make regular payments towards your debts
  • have at least two debts – one debt must be a County Court Judgment or Higher Court Judgment against you.

You agree to make regular monthly payments from your income to the court for the full amount you owe.

The court then distributes the money to the people you owe money to – your creditors.

Find out more about Administration Orders.

Use our guide to find out how to Get free debt advice

Get free debt advice

It’s always best to talk things through with an experienced debt adviser before you decide how you’re going to pay off debts.

There are many ways to clear your debts and some are more well known than others.

The one that is best for you will depend on your personal circumstances.

A free debt adviser can help you make the right decisions so that most of your money will go to paying off your debts.

Meaning you could be debt free sooner than you thought.

A debt adviser will:

  • treat everything you say in confidence
  • give advice about better ways of managing your money
  • never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation
  • suggest ways of dealing with debts that you might not know about
  • always be happy to talk to you, however small or big your problem is
  • check you have applied for all the benefits and entitlements available to you.

You might only need to have one conversation with an experienced debt adviser to make sure that your plan to manage or clear your debts is the right one for you.

If you need more support or don’t know where to start, you’re not alone.

Nearly half of people in debt told us they aren’t sure about the best way to deal with their debts, and that is where a debt adviser can really help you.

More than eight out of ten people who have got debt advice tell us they feel less stressed or anxious and more in control of their life again.

The people that let debts build up before they seek advice often find things have:

  • spiralled out of control
  • their cards are maxed out
  • no one else will lend to them, and
  • it takes much longer to pay back what they owe.

You can contact an adviser in a way that’s best for you – online, over the phone or face-to-face.

So join one of the hundreds of thousands of people we help each year and take the first step to being debt free.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

Save on your utility bills today

It’s never been quicker or easier to see what you could save on your household bills. If your existing deal is set to expire, it only takes a few minutes to compare deals and switch online.

Never forget a renewal date. Relax and we’ll let you know: set up your free reminders here.

Get the latest ideas, advice and inspiration​

No spam. Just useful and interesting stuff, straight to your inbox. Covering finance, learning, jobs, volunteering, lifestyle and more.

By providing us your email address you agree to receive emails and communications from us and acknowledge that your personal data will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions. You can unsubscribe at any time by following the link in our emails.