More than two million people have recently used a credit card to make a mortgage payment or cover their rent.
The figures from Shelter show that the number of people using plastic to cover the cost of their housing has risen by almost 50% over the last 12 months.
When asked if they had used a credit card to pay a mortgage or rent in the last year, 6% of people admitted that had done so, suggesting a UK wide figure of more than two million. The results bring into focus the extent to which people are struggling with their housing costs.
Shelter is warning that many of these people could be starting the New Year with the threat of homelessness hanging over them.
Not only can defaulting on credit card payments lead to repossession in very severe cases but just one single incident, such as illness, rent increase or drop in income, is all that's needed to push people into a spiral of debt and arrears that can lead to the loss of their home, the charity said.
"This research brings into sharp focus how keeping a roof over their head has become a daily struggle for millions across the country," said Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter.
"This is a totally unsustainable situation and one which we fear could see thousands more families pushed into the spiral of debt, eviction or repossession and ultimately homelessness.
"Using credit cards to pay the rent or mortgage is simply robbing Peter to pay Paul. With the average credit card interest rate now standing at over 16 percent it is the worst possible course of action."
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