How to Avoid Overdraft Fees
Few things are as painful as logging into your bank account and seeing the balance in red. Was it the $8 breakfast burrito that put you over the edge? Or maybe you forgot to account for a check you wrote — and it's just been cashed. Whatever the reason, now you have to shell out even more money in overdraft fees.
Here's what you need to know about avoiding overdrafts — and overdraft fees — once and for all.
What is an overdraft?
An overdraft occurs when a transaction is processed by your bank, but you don't have enough money in your account to cover it. For example, if you had $50 in your checking account and made a $60 purchase with your debit card, then you'd end up overdrafting by $10.
When you have an overdraft, the transaction may still go through if your bank chooses to make that payment for you even though there's not enough money in your account. You'll have a negative account balance until you deposit enough money to cover the overdraft and bring your account back on the plus side. And while that might not seem like a big deal, overdrafts come with fees.
Did you know? Overdraft fees vary by bank, but they can be as high as $39 per transaction.
How much are overdraft fees?
Overdraft fees vary by bank. In fact, some banks charge overdraft fees as high as $39 per transaction.1 Plus, if overdraft transactions keep hitting your account while it has a negative balance, you could rack up multiple overdraft fees in one day.
How to avoid overdrafts
- Set up digital alerts: To avoid letting your balance get so low that an overdraft is possible, you can set up alerts in online banking that let you know when your balance has reached a certain threshold. For example, you could receive an email or text (or both) if you balance falls below $50. Then you can replenish your account before you have any overdrafts.
- Opt out of overdraft coverage: One of the easiest ways to prevent overdrafts is to opt out of your bank's overdraft coverage. That means if you try to make a purchase with your debit card or withdraw money from an ATM when you don't have enough funds in your checking account, the transaction will simply be declined.
- Sign up for overdraft protection: If you'd rather not risk having your transactions declined, you can also enroll in overdraft protection. This involves linking your checking account to another account to cover any overdrafts and prevent you from incurring an overdraft fee. Then, if you have an overdraft transaction, the money will be withdrawn from your backup account rather than leave your checking account in the red. For example, Synovus offers overdraft protection that allows you to link your checking account to another Synovus deposit account (such as a savings account). Then, if you overdraft, the transaction is covered and you're charged a $10 fee for the funds transfer, which is much less than an overdraft fee.
- Contact your bank: If you're a good customer and you have an overdraft because of one oversight, it's worth taking the time to call your bank and ask to have the fee waived. Often, if you're not a repeat offender, the bank may waive the overdraft fee for you.
Avoiding overdrafts is easier than you may think, and Synovus can help. We're here if you have questions or if you want to talk with a local banker about overdraft coverage options.
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This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
- NerdWallet, "Overdraft Fees: Compare What Banks Charge," https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/overdraft-fees-what-banks-charge/, accessed October 20, 2018. Back