3m used credit to pay the mortgage in February
More than one in 20 people - the equivalent of 3 million – paid their rent or mortgage using some form of credit in February.
The figure has doubled in less than a year, according to the Debt Advisory Centre which commissioned the research.
Six months earlier, in August 2013, just 3% of respondents were forced to turn to debt for the same purpose.
Younger people were more likely to borrow to pay their rent or mortgage than their older peers, with more 10% of respondents aged between 18 and 34 years old having to pay with credit in February.
And people in London, where rents and house prices are the highest in the UK, were twice as those living elsewhere to pay to keep a roof over their heads with credit. For example, 11.1% people living in the capital were forced to borrow, only 2.6% of those living in the South West did.
Worryingly, some 8.2% of men used credit such as a personal loan, payday loan, or credit card cash advance in February – and they were twice as likely as women to turn to these types of borrowing.
Ian Williams, spokesperson for the Debt Advisory Centre, said: "There is nothing more important than the roof over your head, so to learn that so many people feel they have to rely on credit to pay their mortgage or rent - and that this figure has risen – is extremely troubling.
"Rent and mortgage payments are a priority bill – if you need to borrow money to pay them it is a sign that your finances are out of control. If this is the case you should seek expert money advice."
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.