How we help members with financial difficulties
We’re committed to helping our members avoid debt and supporting them through financial challenges.
This area of our website offers information about some the things we do as a responsible business. If you need help with financial difficulties please visit our money worries page.
What's on this page
Helping members to avoid debt
As a responsible lender, we have a responsibility to our members to:
- be open and honest
- treat them fairly
- be safe and secure.
These principles are behind everything we do. The way we lend money is no exception.
Making sure borrowing is affordable
All our product and lending criteria are designed to meet member needs. It’s important that we don’t add to the financial burden on our members. Using all appropriate credit assessment techniques available to us, we assess members’ ability to make regular payments.
We share credit data with (approved) credit reference agencies, who may in turn share data with other lenders and organisations under strict rules. This both improves the quality of our decisions and reduces the risk of members becoming over-committed. We treat personal information confidentially and in accordance with data protection legislation.
We offer members the ability to place a limit on further borrowing. This ensures finances aren’t over-stretched while allowing for some increase in expenditure.
We make every effort to ensure our products remain competitively priced and:
- are committed to promoting them in a balanced way
- provide clear information on the cost of borrowing and any fees and charges up front
- give reasonable notice of interest rate and payment changes.
Supporting members with persistent debt
Persistent debt is when a member pays more in interest, fees and charges on their credit card than they’ve repaid of the amount borrowed for a sustained period. If a member finds themselves in persistent debt, we contact them to describe the steps they can take to resolve the debt, including how to reduce the interest, fees and charges they would otherwise incur.
Our approach to managing persistent debt on credit cards exceeds all stipulated regulations:
- After persistent debt lasting 12 months
We’ll restrict the ability to further increase credit limit or to transfer balances.
- After persistent debt lasting 18 months
We contact the member explaining that we’ve identified that they’re in persistent debt. We’ll offer a voluntary payment amount that, if paid, will take them out of persistent debt.
- We’ll review their account at 27 months
We’ll write to the member letting them know if they’ve moved out of persistent debt.
- We’ll review their account again at 36 months
If they’re still in persistent debt at this point, we’ll provide them with options to support them in paying off their balance sooner. This can include moving on to a 48-month paydown plan.
- After this
We’ll suspend their card to prevent them from further adding to their balance as it may cost them more and take longer to pay off their debt.
Digital money coach
For members who are struggling, we’ve partnered with Tully (opens in a new window), a leading digital debt advice organisation. Tully helps people to find affordable repayment solutions with their lenders and service providers, to help them budget their way through difficult times and overcome persistent debt.
Tully offers a 'digital money coach', helping members to firstly identify their personal money goals. It then uses Open Banking technology to track and reward their progress. We’re using this to support members who have been making minimum payments only on their credit cards for some time, to help them:
- identify where they may be able to increase payments
- repay their borrowing more effectively, or
- access more appropriate support for their circumstances.
Open Banking for good programme
Leveraging our expertise and relationships, we’ve worked with experts from charities and Government organisations to identify real challenges faced by the financially squeezed.
To help meet these difficulties we led and funded a programme with FinTech start-ups. We provided funding which enabled them to work with experts from charities and Nationwide. A collaborative approach was adopted that was committed to generating learning throughout.
The programme successfully delivered Open Banking powered solutions to issues relating to:
- income and expenditure
- smoothing of irregular income
- support for money management, and
- help with mental health.
We’re committed to sharing our unique approach to social innovation with all interested parties. We’ve already shared with Government, charitable foundations and other financial services organisations committed to social responsibility.
The first part of an independent impact assessment by Bristol University Personal Finance Research Centre has been published. We’re in the final stages of establishing a longer-term social incubator programme, built on the learnings so far.
Specialist support service
Our confidential, specialist support service helps members manage their accounts during challenging times. This includes support to talk through finances for members living with, or recovering from, an illness (like cancer, depression or anxiety) or while caring for a loved one. Our dedicated team helps members to find a way forward, whether they’re already in arrears or worried they might miss a payment.
Members facing or in financial difficulties
Nationwide is committed to helping our members who may anticipate or find themselves experiencing a period of financial difficulties. We will always be sympathetic and support our members, offering a range of forbearance options that are tailored to their individual circumstances and their individual circumstances and what they can afford. We have an experienced, dedicated team who will work with the member to establish if the financial difficulties are short or long term to find an affordable sustainable solution to achieve a fair outcome.
Online income and expenditure
We’ve created the ability for a member to share their income and expenditure details online providing a clear picture of their finances. This means we can have a shorter productive conversation with the member and establish a fair outcome based on their circumstances and what they can afford.
Where a member is in debt across multiple organisations, we will sign post them for free money advice. We work closely with StepChange Debt Charity and PayPlan who will support the member in managing their debts in one place.
We have a seamless referral journey in place allowing members to interact using their chosen method of communication and at a time that works for them.
Many of our members who struggle financially are unaware of benefits they’re entitled to. We work with community interest company, IncomeMax (opens in a new window), to help members in financial difficulty:
- find ways to increase income
- reduce bills
- access charitable grants
- contact Government departments
- complete claim forms
- resolve incorrect benefit decisions.
Since working with Nationwide, IncomeMax has helped members access over £1.25 million of extra income (data from IncomeMax). Our colleagues are always happy to discuss financial difficulties or concerns with our members, but not everyone is comfortable talking to someone about this. To help, we have an automated service on our website, called Policy in Practice, to drive awareness and action of the benefits and grants for which they may be eligible. The tool is available for anyone to use, without the need for human intervention. Try the Policy in Practice Benefit and Budgeting Calculator (opens in a new window).
Budgeting tool using Open Banking
We’ve partnered with OpenWrks (opens in a new window), to provide members with access to a budget tool using Open Banking. The technology makes it easy for our members to access their account information securely.
The tool builds an accurate budget or 'affordability assessment'. This enables us to provide:
- shorter, more supportive conversations with members in financial difficulty
- more affordable and sustainable plans.
Helping members with debts to other creditors
When we are helping members who are struggling with debts to multiple creditors we refer them to PayPlan or StepChange, who can support with a range of debt solutions and advice.