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Learn about and compare overdraft fees
Your bank can't charge you a fee for overdraft purchases unless you consented.
You can choose to have your bank cover the balances of any purchases you can’t afford — but it’ll come with hefty fees.
What is an overdraft?
When money is withdrawn from a bank account and the account balance dips below zero, this is known as an overdraft. It’s essentially a short-term loan from the bank to cover the cost of the purchase.
For example, if you had $5 in your account and you spend $20 on a debit card purchase, your account would be overdrawn by $15.
Types of overdraft fees
All overdraft fees are not created equal. Here’s how to sort them out:
|Fee type||Average cost||What it’s for|
|Overdraft||$34/item||When your bank covers the difference for insufficient funds.|
|Non-sufficient funds||$35/item||When your bank declines a transaction or rejects a check due to insufficient funds.|
|Overdraft protection||$10/day – though some banks won’t charge for this.||When your bank automatically transfers funds from a linked account to cover a transaction you’ve charged.|
|Extended overdraft||$25/week||When you leave a negative balance in your account for 5 to 7 days in a row, your bank may charge this on top of the fees you already owe.|
Your bank can’t legally charge you a fee for point-of-sale purchase or ATM withdrawal overdrafts unless you opted in to overdraft coverage, but they can charge you for checks and automatic bill payments either way.
Fees from the major banks are:
Tips for avoiding overdrafts
To keep your finances healthy:
- Check your balance. Overdraft fees can add up quickly, so stay up-to-date with your finances by checking your balance, setting up push notifications on your banking app when your balance falls below a certain threshold or using an app like Cleo to keep an eye on your balance.
- Use ATMs with caution. Certain machines will let you withdraw money you don’t have, leading to hefty overdraft fees.
- Be aware of pending balances. Account balances displayed on ATMs and online may not always be correct. Recent purchases can take time to show up, so factor in any recent pending purchases when deciding what you can spend.
- Take stock of your spending habits. If you’ve had to deal with several overdrafts, it might be time to sit down and write up a new budget — and practice sticking to it.
Keeping track of your finances and setting up overdraft protection with your bank can help protect you from hefty fees. But if your budget is tight and you’ll likely need overdraft at some point, compare checking accounts and use a bank that offers low fees.
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