Best bank accounts with cheap or free overdrafts in the UK 2023

Overdrafts can be both really helpful or a true fee nightmare. If you use them often, it's worth looking for a bank account that prices them fairly.

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Most current accounts come with an overdraft facility these days, either discretionary or already included in the package. But should you use it? How much is it going to cost you? How are you supposed to understand all those complicated fees? We've looked into it so that you don't have to.

1 - 15 of 91
Name Product Ratings Account fees Funding requirement Interest (AER) Arranged overdraft Incentive Representative example Link
Starling Bank
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0.05%
15% EAR variable
No fees overseas.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 15% EAR variable.
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HSBC
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%
39.9% EAR variable
Free Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to USD 10,000 from any HSBC branch worldwide.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200, you’ll be charged interest at at 39.9% EAR variable.
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Royal Bank of Scotland
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%
19.49% EAR variable
Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 19.49% EAR variable.
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View details
HSBC
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%

(Subject to status)
Eligible for Regular Saver product.
Representative example: 0% EAR (variable) on the first £25, 39.9% EAR (variable) on anything above that, giving a representative annual percentage rate (APR) of 38.9% APR (variable). Based on an arranged overdraft of £1,200.
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NatWest
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%
39.49% EAR variable
Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.49% EAR variable.
Go to site
View details
first direct
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%
N/A
Switch to first direct and get £175.
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Barclays
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%
35.0% EAR (Variable)
Join Barclays Blue Rewards to unlock member deals and gain access to exclusive savings products with competitive interest rate (Eligibility, conditions and a £5 monthly fee apply).
Available to UK residents 18 or over. Manage your money with the Barclays app, Online Banking and more. You must be 18 or over to access this product in the app. T&Cs apply.
Representative Example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200, you will be charged 35.0% EAR (variable). Representative APR: 35.0% (variable). Subject to application, financial circumstance and borrowing history.
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Royal Bank of Scotland
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%
39.49% EAR variable
Free 24/7 Emergency Cash Service to withdraw up to £300 for online and telephone banking customers or £60 if not.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.49% EAR variable.
Go to site
View details
NatWest
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£2 per month
Min. £1250 Per Month
0%
39.49% EAR variable
Earn 4 Rewards per month by making at a minimum of 2 direct debit payments of at least £2 each.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.49% EAR variable. Account fee of £2 per month.
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View details
Royal Bank of Scotland
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£2 per month
Min. £1250 Per Month
0%
39.49% EAR variable
Earn £9 back in Rewards per month by making at a minimum of 2 direct debit payments of at least £4.50 each.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.49% EAR variable. Account fee of £2 per month.
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View details
Royal Bank of Scotland
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£2 per month
Min. £1250 Per Month
0%
39.49% EAR variable
Earn £9 back in Rewards per month by making at a minimum of 2 direct debit payments of at least £4.50 each.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.49% EAR variable. Account fee of £2 per month.
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View details
Nationwide BS
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
Min. £1000 Per Month
5%
39.9% EAR variable
Eligible for Member Credit Card.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable.
View details
Virgin Money
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
No minimum funding requirement
2.02%
19.9% EAR variable
Comes with linked M Plus Saver Account and access to exclusive ISA products.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 19.9% EAR variable.
View details
Bank of Scotland
Finder score
★★★★★
★★★★★
User survey
★★★★★
★★★★★
£0
Min. £1000 Per Month (Minimum two direct debit mandates on account per month)
0.6%
39.9% EAR variable
Everyday Offers - Earn up to 15% cashback from selected retailers when shopping with a Bank of Scotland credit or debit card.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 39.9% EAR variable.
View details
Danske Bank
Not yet rated
£0
No minimum funding requirement
0%
42.77% EAR variable
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 42.77% EAR variable.
View details
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Latest reviews of current accounts with overdrafts

Starling Bank - Current Account - Age 18 and over

Current Account - Age 18 and over
Finder rating
★★★★★
Customer rating
★★★★★
Go to siteRead review

£0

Min. opening balance

£0

Account fees

0.05% AER

Interest (AER)

No fees overseas.
This online-only current account offers free ATM withdrawals abroad, alongside fee-free spending when overseas. The smartphone app which customers use to manage their account contains a wealth of features, including an analysis of your spending, the ability to freeze your debit card if it is lost or stolen, and instant notifications every time you spend money. Customers can pay in cash via the Post Office. Meanwhile, cheques can be cashed via the “Cheque Deposit” feature within the app. Account holders can also easily transfer money to their friends using the “settle up” and “pay nearby” features.
Representative example: If you use an arranged overdraft of £1,200 you'll be charged interest at 15% EAR variable .
  • Free UK current account, usually up and running in a matter of minutes. Card delivered within a week.
  • Slick mobile app packed with budgeting and saving features, including spending categorisation and saving goals.
  • Safe and secure, fully licensed by the FCA and PRA.
  • While Starling offers a wide range of services, it’s still a fairly new bank, so does not yet offer more complex services such as mortgages.
  • There aren’t any bank branches, but you can use the Post Office to deposit and withdraw cash.
Interest rate0.05% AER
Minimum opening balance£0
Minimum operating balance£0.01
Switch service guaranteeYes
Account fee£0
Overseas card transactions£0
Overseas cash withdrawals£0

What is an overdraft?

An overdraft is a feature of your current account that allows you to continue spending even once you’ve exhausted all your available funds.

Since you’re effectively borrowing money, you’ll usually be charged interest and/or a fee for it. Overdrafts can turn out quite expensive, with many account banks charging around 40% annual interest rates, making borrowing more expensive than via some credit cards.

Some banks offer a 0% overdraft in order to entice new customers in, but this ‘free’ borrowing facility usually last for a fixed period. For example, new Nationwide FlexDirect account customers can take advantage of a 0% for a year, subject to certain terms and conditions.

So you should only use yours in case of emergency. However, they can be handy if you need just a few extra quid to make it to the end of the month.

Most full current accounts come with an overdraft option included or allow you to apply for one.

Arranged vs unarranged overdrafts

There are two types of overdrafts:

  • Arranged overdrafts. That’s when you apply and are approved for an overdraft by your bank. You’ll be able to borrow up to a set limit.
  • Unarranged overdrafts. That’s when you haven’t agreed to an overdraft with your bank and still overspend, or when you spend more than your overdraft limit.

How to apply for an overdraft

Most current accounts will ask you if you’d like an overdraft facility when you initially apply. You can get it then, or apply for one later on.

You can typically apply for an overdraft online or from your banking app. You’ll be asked the arranged overdraft limit you’d like and will usually be credit checked. If you pass (the credit limit you’re approved for may be lower than what you asked for), you’ll then be able to use your arranged overdraft. You can check your current credit score for free here.

Overdraft fees

As we said, before using your overdraft, you should make sure you’re fully aware of how much it’s going to cost you. There are different fees to take into account and they can quickly add up to a fairly significant sum.

In April 2020, the government brought in major changes to the costs of overdrafts, meaning that banks cannot charge higher fees for unauthorised overdrafts, as used to be the case.

This means that interest on all overdrafts is charged at a single annual percentage rate (APR). The idea is that this makes it easier to compare charges between accounts.

  • Fees for accessing an overdraft facility. This isn’t super common, but with some banks, you’ll be charged just for having an overdraft facility on your account, even if you don’t use it.
  • Fees for using overdrafts. Overdrafts are typically charged an interest rate. This will vary from bank to bank, so make sure you check exactly how much you would owe, and over how long a time period, before dipping into your overdraft.

Is a current account with an overdraft a good idea?

In theory, there’s no harm in at least applying for an overdraft facility and having it on your bank account. It can be a life saver if something happens and you have to deal with an emergency. However, if you do it, you need to be aware of the catches:

  • It can be an expensive form of borrowing. Depending on the interest rate your bank offers, the interest can add up.
  • Be especially careful if you have more than one current account. If you spread your money between different accounts, you may accidentally end up using your overdraft even if you don’t actually need it.

Ultimately, it all comes down to how much your bank charges. There are current accounts out there offering decently priced overdrafts that can be really helpful if you need a bit of extra cash at times.

Can you switch current accounts with an overdraft?

Yes, you can. Having an overdraft won’t stop CASS (the current account switching scheme) from doing its thing and transferring your direct debits and payments to your new bank while closing your old account. If you had an overdraft with your old bank but weren’t using it, you don’t have to do anything except apply for an overdraft with your new bank if you still want it.

Things are a tad more complicated if you were using your overdraft and your old account was in debt. You have two main options:

  • See if your new bank will accept your overdraft. If it does, you’ll be able to transfer it directly from your old account. Just make sure you’re not getting yourself a worse deal.
  • Pay off your overdraft. If your new bank doesn’t agree to transfer your old overdraft, you’ll have to pay it off. Get in touch with your old bank to agree on how to do so. If money is tight, keep in mind that your new bank may still be willing to offer you an overdraft even if it doesn’t allow you to transfer your old one (it’s worth asking/applying).

It might be worth browsing the latest switching deals on the market at the moment to see if you can earn some extra money.

How to compare bank accounts with overdrafts

If you’re looking for a bank account with an overdraft, it’s important to consider how often you’re likely to use your overdraft and how much you’ll be charged for doing so.

Some bank accounts will offer an interest-free overdraft for the first 12 months, for example, which could be a good option if you only need it for a set period, or you have an existing overdraft you need to pay off.

Others, however, will offer a small interest-free buffer to act as a safety net as and when you need it. If you are likely to go over this buffer, make sure you compare exactly how much you’ll be charged for doing so and look for the most competitive option.

Alternatives to overdrafts

Overdrafts are definitely not your only option when it comes to borrowing:

  • Credit cards. If you often end up overspending one month only to make up for it the following one, getting a credit card can be much better than dipping into your overdraft. As long as you clear your balance in full every month, you won’t be charged any interest.
  • Personal loans. If you already know you’re going to have to borrow money in the near future, or are looking to fund a medium-to-long-term project, there’s really no point in relying on your overdraft. A personal loan will probably be more suitable for your needs.

Finally, if you find yourself overusing your overdraft, maybe the time has come to do a bit of budgeting and reorganise your finances. If it sounds like a daunting task, why not try a budgeting app? For example Money Dashboard is free and does the job more than adequately.

Pros and cons of a bank account with an overdraft

Pros

  • Some overdrafts are interest-free up to a set limit.
  • If used sensibly, an overdraft can help improve your credit score.
  • Overdrafts are flexible, allowing you to borrow what you need when.
  • Overdrafts are quick to arrange.
  • There is no set repayment term.

Cons

  • Interest rates can be high.
  • If you regularly exceed your overdraft limit, this can negatively impact your credit score.
  • Your overdraft is not guaranteed and can be cancelled at any point.
  • Borrowing limits are usually lower compared to other forms of credit such as credit cards and loans.

Bottom line

An overdraft can be a handy addition to your bank account and can offer a valuable safety net in the event an unexpected payment pushes you into the red, for example. Applying for an overdraft is usually straightforward and there are a few low cost options available.

However, it’s important to stay within your overdraft limit and try to pay back the amount borrowed as soon as possible. Otherwise, the more you rely on your overdraft, the harder it will become to get out of it.

Frequently asked questions

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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