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Metro Bank’s Borrow Barometer

28th May 2023

Metro Bank’s New Borrow Barometer Reveals the Hidden Facts Behind the Nation’s Borrowing Habits

Q1 Data Shows 2023’s Emerging Borrowing Trends


  • Top three reasons for taking out a loan are car repair or purchase, debt management and home improvements

  • Growing waiting lists and vanishing NHS dental services lead many to take out a loan for medical treatment

Borrowing to purchase or repair a car, manage debt or fund home improvements were the top three reasons for borrowing in Q1 2023, according to Metro Bank consumer data. Metro Bank’s ‘Borrow Barometer’ can reveal that the top reason to take out a loan in Q1 was to support a car purchase or repair with an average loan size of £9,283. Debt consolidation came in second with a slightly higher average loan amount of £9,306. Home improvements also stood out in third place with an average loan size of £9,115.

Customers borrowed around £5,000 (£4,913) on average to cover holiday and travel expenses in Q1, perhaps fuelled by a desire to escape the British winter. Romance was also in the air in Q1 as borrowing to pay for an engagement or wedding stood at around £8,000 (£7,901). People are also continuing to borrow in order to invest in themselves or their business, whether it’s to upgrade their business, or invest in training courses and further education to add a new qualification to their CV.   

“This data provides a brief snapshot of our customers’ financial pressures and aspirations,” explains Richard Saulet, managing director, consumer finance at Metro Bank. “It paints a diverse picture ranging from people investing in themselves or growing their business, to exploring the planet – be it lush tropical climes or racing off on a new motorbike.

“Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that people are turning to borrowing as a means of coping with today’s cost of living pressures. Loans to support unexpected bills such as lawyer fees or medical bills also remain high.”

While the majority of loans were for managing debt, buying or maintaining a car or home improvements, Metro Bank has delved deeper into the data to reveal some more hidden spending themes in Q1.



  • Customers borrowed £6,500 on average for their business costs – covering everything from starting up to buying new tools.
  • Borrowers are also choosing to invest in themselves and their family to improve their career prospects with the average loan for education costing £5,750. Seventy five percent of all loans for studying and training qualifications in Q1 were for school fees and further education.


  • Customers were borrowing just under £5,000 on average for holidays and travel in Q1.
  • Caravans and camper vans were another high value and popular item, with borrowers taking out an average of just under £10,000 (£9,667).


  • The average wedding loan was for £7,901 which compares favourably to the average cost of a UK wedding which stands at £18,400.1
  • Quirkier borrowing also included loans for watches, golf clubs and even a racing simulator.

Dealing with the unexpected… Unexpected bills featured prominently in the Metro Bank Borrow Barometer and with one in five Brits having no savings at all it is unsurprising.2

  • Funerals are becoming increasingly expensive with people borrowing £3,500 on average to cover these expenses.
  • The average loan for unexpected tax bills stood at just over £7,000 (£7,083).
  • Loans for vet treatments averaged out at £1,667.


Paying for private

Improving appearances and fixing teeth continue to be a high priority for customers. As NHS waiting lists grow and finding an NHS dentist becomes more and more difficult this is likely to continue.

  • The average loan for medical bills in Q1 2023 – be that surgery, cosmetic surgery or hair and dental treatments was £4,939 of which:
    • 16% was for dental treatment with an average loan amount of £4,333.

[1] Average 2022 UK Wedding Cost, published January 2023.

2 Savings statistics: Average savings in the UK (