Life isn’t always ideal, and sometimes we have to delay paying some debts in order to focus on others. This is by no means perfect because each delayed or ignored bill can lead to their own problems. However, there is no escaping the fact that not paying some bills have worse repercussions than others.

How to Choose What Bills to Pay First

Prioritising debt comes down largely to what bill would have the worst repercussions if you ignored it. There are some general rules that everyone can follow, such as always paying money owed to the government due to the power they have, but a lot of the time it comes down largely to personal circumstance.

How to Choose What Bills to Pay First

Having said that, what follows are some broad guidelines that you should consider. Depending on where you are in the UK the list might change, but we’ve listed types of debt that remain a priority across borders. We have categorised types of debt into three categories; few repercussions, some repercussions, and many repercussions:


Credit Cards – If you don’t pay your credit card for a month you’ll be fined for missing your minimum repayment and interest will be added to your balance. However, beyond this, credit companies are fairly powerless. They will send you a letter asking for the money, just try and make sure to pay it as soon as you can.

Personal Loan Debt – Again, there might be fines and interest attached to a missed payment on a personal loan, and it will harm your credit rating, but other than that there won’t be any major consequences. Provided you didn’t secure the loan against anything, a personal loan is not a priority debt.

Overdraft – If you have an arranged overdraft, that is to say one that the bank has authorised officially, then you should pay this off whenever you can. However, it is a non-priority debt. The bank might add on a fee or charge some interest, but while it’s not ideal, it isn’t the end of the world to delay an overdraft repayment. Especially if it’s a choice between paying your overdraft or paying your rent, it’s clear what is more important.


Insurance Debts – This largely depends on what insurance you are missing a payment on. If you can’t afford to pay your home insurance this isn’t ideal, because your policy might be terminated meaning you are not protected if something like an accident or burglary takes place. If you have to miss a car insurance payment you will be unable to drive legally.

Hire Purchase/Finance Agreements – This varies depending on how much you need what you are in the process of buying. In scenarios like this the private lenders have more power than usual as they retain the right to repossess what they have lent you. If you have bought your car, for example, on hire purchase, it’s important you pay your bills so you can keep it.


Utility Bills – This one is simple; you don’t pay your energy bills, you don’t get any energy. The lights will be off, the heating won’t work, you won’t be able to charge your phone, use the hair dryer… the list goes on. Make your utility bills a priority!

HMRC and Council Tax – Private companies are usually somewhat limited in terms of how they can get money from you. They can make your life very difficult, and the bills will rack up, but any process they can undergo will be long and drawn out.

Government bodies do not share this problem. They can take money straight from your income, they can send round bailiffs, in extreme cases they can even send you to prison. In short, always prioritise government authorities because they can take part control of your finances and generally make your life miserable.

Mortgage and Rent – This doesn’t need much explanation. Pay your mortgage or rent so that you aren’t evicted!

Give is a Call!

As you can see, every situation is different and so it’s hard to make concrete rules about which debts have to be paid first. You just have to consider which debts would have the worst repercussions for you if you delayed payment.

If you do find yourself struggling to keep up with your debts and there is nothing to suggest it is temporary, reach out to debt free life for help today. We help over 6000 people a year get their finances back in order and stop worrying about which bills come first.

Call us on 0800 808 5142 for a quick chat, and sit back and relax while we come up with a totally bespoke debt solution for you!