R3, an insolvency trade body, has conducted research showing that 40 per cent of adults in the UK are anxious about their personal debt levels. Londoners are most affected: 49 per cent admitted being concerned. Nationwide, credit card debt is the source of the greatest worry at 51 per cent, followed by overdrafts at 32 per cent, and 19 per cent of those asked were uneasy about loans and mortgages. Residents of eastern England were the most carefree: only a third are anxious about debt, with the top concern among this third being credit card debt. Despite being the most worried group, Londoners were generally less anxious about their credit card balances than about other kinds of debt, with only 39 per cent citing this particular form of debt as a source of unease. R3's President, Steven Law says: “This shows how debt has become a fact of adult life, starting with a student loan and graduating to a mortgage, credit cards and loans. This can lead to years of worries about financial stability.

Even as R3 reports high levels of concern about credit card debt, the MBNA has launched two new cards targeting customers who have racked up expensive balances on other cards. The first, called the MBNA Balance Transfer card, allows customers to transfer a balance for a 2.9 per cent handling fee during the first 60 days. There is a 0 per cent APR charge on the transferred balance for the first 16 months, which also applies to new purchases for the first three months, after which any additional use of the card incurs an APR of 16.8 per cent. The other card, dubbed the MBNA Dual card, similarly enables customers to transfer a balance for a fee during the first 60 days (in this case 2.98 per cent) and then to avoid paying interest on this balance for 12 months. The standard APR for additional purchases on this card is 18.9 per cent. Will Curley of MBNA said: “We are committed to enhancing and expanding our product portfolio when other lenders may not be.”

Halifax this week launched a new cash ISA with a variable interest rate of 2.8 per cent for the first year. An additional 0.2 per cent AER is available for those who already hold their main bank account with Halifax, bringing interest to 3 per cent. After the first year, customers have to move to another arrangement, but there are no withdrawal penalties on the account. As with all cash ISAs, there is an annual limit of £5,100 for additions to the account.