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How to Avoid Overdraft Fees on Your Bank Account - A Quick Guide

How to Avoid Overdraft Fees on Your Bank Account - A Quick Guide

14 Dec 2023


In the past, lending money to consumers was how banks made most of their money. Rich people and corporations received loans from banks, which were repaid with appropriate interest rates. Banks continue to make loans, primarily for mortgages and auto loans, but they make most of their money from the fees they charge their clients. Banks also charge hefty fee for online money transfers.

For various services, including applying for a loan, banks impose fees. Because the bank doesn't have to put much of its resources at risk, a charge provides a simple source of income. One of the most expensive costs for customers is overdraft fees.

What is Overdraft Fees?

When you withdraw additional money from your account than is in it, the bank will charge you an overdraft fee for the withdrawal. When an individual's account is overdrawn, the bank provides a short-term loan to cover the entire amount. The customer must return the overdraft fee, which sometimes exceeds the initial and overdrawn charges.

Overdraft fees can be costly and unexpected for many bank account holders. These fees occur when you spend more money than you have in your account and can add up quickly if not managed properly. This quick guide will provide tips and strategies to help you avoid overdraft fees on your bank account.

How to avoid overdraft fees 

Overdraft fees are easy to avoid if you take some basic precautions.

Understand your account's overdraft policies

Before effectively avoiding overdraft fees, you must understand how your account's policies work. Some accounts automatically enroll you in overdraft protection, while others do not. Additionally, some accounts may charge a flat fee per transaction, while others charge a daily or weekly fee. Knowing the intricate details of your account's overdraft policies will help you better manage your expenditures.

Keep track of your account balance

One of the easiest methods to avoid overdraft fees is to keep track of your account balance. This means regularly checking your account balance online or by phone and keeping track of scheduled payments or automatic withdrawals. By staying on top of your account balance, you'll be able to identify and address any potential overdraft situations before they occur.

Set up account alerts

Many banks offer account alerts to help customers maintain their account balances. These alerts can be sent to your email or phone and notify you when your balance is low or a significant transaction has occurred. This way, you can take prompt action to avoid over-drafting your account.

Budget your spending

One of the most effective strategies to minimize overdraft fees is to make a budget and stick to it. You'll be able to understand where your money is going and make any adjustments by identifying your income and expenses.

Additionally, budgeting can help you identify areas where you can cut back on spending, freeing up money to cover unexpected expenses.

Consider a line of credit or overdraft protection

If you're worried about accidentally over-drafting your account, a line of credit or overdraft protection may be a good option. These options allow you to borrow money to cover any short-term cash flow issues, but they come with additional fees and interest. Be sure to understand the terms and conditions of these options before signing up.

Utilise mobile banking apps

Mobile banking apps can be a great way to keep track of your account balance and transaction history. Many banks offer mobile apps that allow you to check your account balance, view recent transactions, and even deposit checks directly from your phone. This way, you can stay on top of your account balance and avoid any potential overdrafts.

Keep a buffer in your account

Keeping a buffer in your account is a good idea. It can be a small amount, like $50 or $100, this will help you cover unexpected expenses or minor miscalculations, and it will help you avoid overdraft fees.

Avoid using checks

Writing checks can be a risky way to spend money, as they can take a few days to clear and can result in an overdraft if you need more money in your account. Instead, use your debit card or online banking to make payments, as these transactions are processed immediately.

Seek a bank that offers no overdraft fees

While not all banks charge overdraft fees, some banks don't. This could be a good option if you are prone to overdrafts.

Be aware of your account activity

Another tip to avoid overdraft fees is to be aware of your account activity, such as recurring payments or automatic debits. Account activity also include sending money online back to your home. These can cause you to overdraft if you need more money in your account. You can ensure enough funds to cover these transactions by monitoring your account activity. 

Prefer cash instead of debit or credit cards

Using cash instead of debit or credit cards can be a great way to avoid overdraft fees, forcing you to stick to your budget and spend only what you have. Cash is a tangible reminder of how much money you have left and helps you manage your spending better.

Keep a cushion balance

Consider keeping extra money on hand to pay for neglected or unforeseen expenses.

Consumers frequently need to remember about regular transactions like subscriptions or automatic monthly payments. Keeping a cushion in your checking account above and beyond what you typically spend each month is one strategy to minimize overdraft fees."

Consider a credit union

Credit unions are non-profit financial institutions owned and controlled by their members. They often offer lower fees and better interest rates than traditional banks, and some credit unions provide cost-free checking accounts with no overdraft charges.

How to get banks to forgive overdraft charges

If you are assessed an overdraft fee, you are only sometimes required to pay it. Negotiating to try to get the costs covered doesn't hurt. You can attempt a few of the following steps.

Make a bank call

Although there is no assurance it will succeed, you can always call the bank and respectfully request that they cancel the charge on your account. If you rarely overdraw your account, behave politely, and are otherwise a good bank customer, your chances of success increase. But only count on a simple yes. Prepare a justification for the bank to waive the cost for you.

Try an app

You can also utilize an app to negotiate the return of overdraft fees. For instance, Cushion checks your bank accounts automatically and deals with the bank to get a refund if you are assessed an overdraft fee. Just be aware that the procedure could last up to 90 days.

Bottom Line

Initially, banking services assisted business owners in safeguarding and leveraging their money. The integration of consumer banking into banking services is very new.

Banks today rely on customer accounts to finance their operations, necessitating charging as many fees as possible. The time when banks primarily derived their revenue from loans has all but passed. Most of a bank's income comes from checking account fees, ATM fees, and interest and fees on credit cards.

Even though most banks now sell portions of their loan portfolios to lower the amount of risk they handle, your bank may still make a lot of loans. So be aware of the costs your bank sets for its services specially for online money transfers. You should use free services while available because some of them are still available. However, it is your responsibility to be aware of the costs your bank levies and whether you can avoid them.
 

FAQs

What are overdraft fees, and why should I be concerned about them?

Overdraft fees are charges imposed by banks when you spend more money than you have available in your account, resulting in a negative balance. You should be concerned about them because they can be costly and lead to financial stress if not managed properly.

How can I avoid overdraft fees on my bank account?

To avoid overdraft fees, you can regularly monitor your account balance, set up account alerts, opt out of overdraft protection, link your savings account as a backup, and maintain a buffer balance to cover unexpected expenses.

What are account alerts, and how do they help prevent overdraft fees?

Account alerts are notifications sent by your bank via email, text, or app notifications. You can set up alerts for low balances or large transactions, helping you stay aware of your account's status and avoid overdrawing.

What is overdraft protection, and why might I want to opt out of it?

Overdraft protection is a service that allows your bank to cover overdrafts by transferring money from a linked account or providing a short-term loan. You might want to opt-out if you prefer to have transactions declined instead of incurring overdraft fees or if you want more control over your spending.

Can I dispute overdraft fees if I believe they were charged unfairly?

Yes, you can dispute overdraft fees with your bank if you believe they were charged unfairly. Contact your bank's customer service and provide documentation to support your case. Many banks are willing to waive or reduce fees in certain circumstances, such as a genuine mistake or an unexpected financial hardship.


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