An average debt of £33,100 awaits a fifth of people due to retire this year, a study shows.
And for one in 20, that figure will be over £50,000.
Half of those surveyed attributed the debt to outstanding mortgage payments while many were yet to pay off their credit card.
The figures are likely to form part of a growing trend of financially older people whose spending remains the same but whose income is significantly less.
The study showed that men are likely to owe more, with an average debt of £39,500, while women's average debt is £25,100.
Vince Smith-Hughes, of pension provider Prudential, said: ‘Total consumer debt in the UK has more than doubled since 2000.
‘A large number of people planning to retire this year are now faced with spending a significant part of their retirement income meeting these debt repayments.’