So how do you feel about paying for a funeral on your credit card?


Jun 5, 2014
So how do you feel about paying for a funeral on your credit card?

What do you think the largest most frequently bought item on our credit cards is?

No it’s not a car; or a lavish holiday; or paying off the tax bill. Would you believe that in 2013, according to the British Card Association the largest most frequently bought item on our credit cards was .... drum roll ..... a funeral!

Yep that’s right; coming in at £1,114, funeral services topped the poll! Surprising isn’t it?


Well no not really when you take into account the cost of funeral services, inflation and the current economic climate.  The Sun Life Direct Cost of Dying Report, published at the end of last year, reported that over 100,000 people will struggle to pay for a funeral this year alone and with the Government Social Fund Funeral Payment capped at a miserly £700, any available help towards funeral costs is still not going to eradicate the problem completely.

It’s hard to believe that while funeral inflation has increased by around 7% every year for the last 9 years, the Governments Social Fund Funeral Payment has remained frozen since 2003 and with stringent rules in place, qualifying for any help with funeral costs can be difficult to secure and certainly should not be relied on; even for those on the bread line.

Whilst the average cost of a funeral is currently more than £3,400, you can choose a cheaper option with a so called no frills basic “direct cremation”; a cremation without the funeral service or anyone in attendance. This type of cremation service will still cost you between £1,000 and £1,500, so it’s easy to see why so many families turn to their credit card when it comes to paying for a funeral.

So with that sombre thought in mind, do you know how your funeral will be paid for? Are you planning to make provision in advance for funeral costs or do you intend to leave it for your family to sort out when the time comes?

New research out this week from Royal London revealed that 59% of over 50s have no plans in place to cover paying for a funeral, yet only 7% are worried about how their family will pay for it. I don’t know about you but I find that really surprising and worrying.

It certainly goes to show that as a nation, not only do we not like talking about dying, we are reluctant to even think about it and are woefully lacking when it comes to putting plans in place.

I know it’s not a subject you would want to have with your work colleagues or friends down the pub, but it might be worth having this type of conversation with those closest to you; the people who it will impact most?

At the end of the day, putting plans in place now could save them additional pain and anguish which surely has to be a good reason for doing something about it today?

There are a number of options available to you when looking to prepay funeral costs, so doing things in advance gives you the opportunity to look around, find the most suitable plan, compare prices and get the best deal; something relatives are reluctant to do when the time comes.

Your plans can be as simple or elaborate as you want. From buying a funeral plan that will guarantee to pay some or all of the costs to choosing your own funeral music, readings or poems; the colour you would like people to wear or even your coffin. You’d actually be amazed at the choice available these days, what with cardboard coffins and other types of eco friendly coffins.

Whether you choose to arrange everything or just help with funeral costs, the choice is yours.

The internet is a great source of information to help get you started and means that you don’t need to walk the high street sampling the delights of the funeral directors; well not yet anyway!


Ashley Shepherd is an Over 50s Personal Finance Expert

ashley shepherd

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