Homeowners have been urged to remortgage to a cheaper home loan and take advantage of lower monthly payments before this Christmas’s bills hit their pocket.

first direct said that total spending on credit cards was £10.7 billion in December 2009, which represented an increase of £400 million in just one month on November 2009’s £10.3 billion figure.

January is therefore the ideal time for tightening belts when consumers are hit with the consequences of Christmas.

Richard Tolchard, senior mortgage product manager at first direct, commented: “Now is a great time to give finances a lift by wrapping up a mortgage deal for just £99.

“With first direct’s 2.19 per cent two-year tracker, homeowners can be enjoying lower monthly mortgage payments by the time their festive bills need paying.”

Meanwhile, Clive Balchin, director of Lancashire-based James Trickett and Son, observed earlier this week that access to mortgages was “just as bad as ever”.

He told the Financial Times there was no “rhyme or reason any more to some of the decisions the lenders make” when deciding whether to offer a mortgage .