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New, national survey shows one in four plan to borrow in 2019 

Posted on: 22 Jan 2019

  • A quarter of consumers plan on borrowing money in 2019

  • They will borrow an average of €8,558

  • Affordability of monthly repayments stands out as the deciding factor in their choice of lender

  • Half of adults surveyed however, say they would be reluctant to borrow from a financial institution this year

  • 36% of adults will carry debt into 2019 – the majority from a personal loan

The findings were revealed in a new, national survey of borrowing and debt trends among 1,000 adults in Ireland. The survey was commissioned by the Irish League of Credit Unions and carried out by i-Reach Insights in December 2018.


The findings revealed that one in four adults plan on borrowing money to fund a major expense in 2019. More than a third of these borrowers will take out a car loan. Just over a quarter (26%) will take on a home loan while 16% will borrow to go on holiday or travel. 9% will borrow to fund third level education and 5% will borrow for their wedding.

The vast majority of borrowers (74%) plan on getting their loan from the credit union. Banks came in second as the lender of choice at 17%. Family or friends are the go-to lenders for 5% of borrowers, while 1% said they would borrow from a moneylender. Borrowers will take out an average loan of €8,558. The majority (42%) plan on paying the money back over 3 to 5 years.

The affordability of monthly loan repayments stands out as the deciding factor in people’s choice of lender (36%), which may point to a lack of awareness of the true cost of the loan. Less than a quarter (23%) said the APR rate was the most important factor for them. 15% said confidence in knowing their loan would be approved would dictate who they would borrow from. 11% cited the ease and convenience of the loan application process.

Half of adults surveyed however, say they are reluctant to borrow from a financial institution this year. 45% say this is because they are prioritising saving money over borrowing, and always do so regardless of the economic climate. A further 16% say they are prioritising saving because of their experience during the recession.

Commenting on the results, ILCU Head of Marketing and Communications, Paul Bailey, said “It’s reassuring to see that despite the economic recovery, consumers are taking a prudent approach to borrowing in 2019. What is of concern is that there appears to be a lack of understanding among borrowers of how much the loan is actually costing them.  Our survey shows that borrowers tend to focus on monthly repayments, rather than on the cost of credit, which is the total amount they will end up paying back to the lender. Another important factor to consider when borrowing is that the loan term is proportionate to the amount being borrowed.”

“Our advice to anyone planning to borrow in 2019 is talk to your local credit union where you will be provided with a straightforward and transparent explanation of lending terms and conditions. Credit unions are ethical lenders, dedicated to providing fair loans to their local communities without any hidden charges, and with fair repayment terms.”

Borrowing History

When asked about their relationship with borrowing money to date, most people (23%) said they had only ever borrowed for a mortgage. 21% said they had both a mortgage in addition to other good-size loans. 15% said while they didn’t have a mortgage, they had other good-size loans, such as car or education loans.
13% said they borrowed several times per year to fund expenses such as holidays, Christmas and back-to-school expenses. A lucky 22% said they had never borrowed, and funded everything through their income and savings.


More than a third of adults will carry debt from a previous loan into 2019. Nearly half of these adults (48%) will have this debt in addition to a mortgage.

Eight in ten will carry the debt from a personal loan. 11% are in debt from a third level or education loan, while 5% are carrying a business loan debt.

Over a third of all adults responding to the survey (36%) said they would turn to family members or partners for advice if they found themselves in unmanageable debt in 2019. This was followed by 28% who said they would turn to the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS). 19% would go to their local credit union for assistance, while just 8% would go to their bank.
Commenting on these findings, Paul Bailey said “We would strongly encourage those carrying debt to make 2019 the year to focus on personal finance, and clear any unnecessary debt they have. Credit unions are always on hand to assist people in this area and offer guidance on managing debt.  Anyone – even if they are not yet a credit union member - is welcome to approach their local credit union for assistance, be it for budgeting and savings guidance, or for information on the loans on offer. The membership process is quick and convenient and they can avail of credit union services as soon as they become members.”