ONE in five consumers is using credit cards to pay household bills, according to a survey.

Of the 21 per cent using credit to pay utility bills, 11per cent or 3.4 million have turned to their card to pay for gas and electricity, with 52 per cent of them blaming recent price hikes, the poll for comparison website TotallyMoney.com found.

Some 6.5 per cent pay their council tax on credit cards and 4.3 per cent do the same for their water bills, the poll revealed.

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With many providers levying charges of around two per cent for credit card payments, this could add £29 to the average annual council tax bill, £24 to the average annual energy bill and £8 to water bills, the site said.

The survey found five per cent of those renting pay with credit cards and four per cent of homeowners use cards to pay their mortgage.

TotallyMoney chief ­executive Will Becker said: "This is a clear sign of financial distress.

"In effect, paying bills in this way is a self-inflicted price hike as the addition of surcharges and potential interest charges are just adding to household costs. This is an even bigger issue for those who cannot pay their credit card bill in full at the end of the month.

"For those who can't afford to make ends meet, paying bills on a credit card is a far better option than missing payments or turning to more expensive sources such as payday loans or unauthorised overdrafts.

"However, it is not a long term solution and for many it may be as simple as spring cleaning your finances and saving enough money each month to keep you out of the red."

OnePoll surveyed 2000 card holders on March 4.