Tips for challenging bank overdraft fees

Being assessed an overdraft charge can be frustrating! When your bank takes any extra fees from your account, it can throw off your budget and keep you from buying things you had planned on.

There are some things you can do to fight an overdraft charge. Some actions are preemptive i.e. things you can do before a charge is ever assessed. Other steps are related to how you can request a refund once a fee has been assessed.

Monitor bank accounts more closely

The easiest way to fight an overdraft charge is to never receive one in the first place. It is easy to accomplish this. Next time you visit the bank, ask for a check register, or if you prefer, print one off of the internet. A check register is a place to track all of the deposits and withdrawals that occur in your bank account from day-to-day. If you track all of your expenses and deposits daily, then you will always know exactly how much money is in your account. Knowing how much money you have will keep you from spending money that you don’t have, and that means keeping you free from overdraft charges.

Protect against overdraft with Regulation E

The second way to fight or protect yourself from an overdraft charge is to opt-out of overdraft coverage via Regulation E. You might not have heard of Regulation E, but your bank knows all about it. Regulation E allows you to choose to have your bank decline transactions or ATM withdrawals when you don’t have enough funds to cover the attempted transaction. One word of caution, Regulation E only applies to debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals, it does not apply to other forms of payment such as direct withdrawal, bill pay or checks. If you overdraft your account using one of the other forms of payment, then you will still most certainly be assessed an overdraft charge. To opt out of Regulation E, all you have to do is call or visit your bank and tell them that you wish to opt out of Regulation E. 

If the two steps above fail and you find yourself facing an overdraft fee, then you can request a refund. Here are some additional things to consider while asking your bank to refund money to you:

Understand account terms of agreement

When you opened your account, you agreed to terms and conditions. This included the assessment of fees such as overdraft charges. Claiming ignorance probably won’t get you very far.

Bad habits are forgiven less easily

The bank is a lot more likely to refund money to someone who is not continually receiving overdraft charges. If you overdraft your account often or receive multiple overdraft charges at a time, then the bank won’t be as willing to help you as it would be willing to help someone who has overdrafted their account just one time. Don’t make a habit of overdrafting your account.

Attitude means a lot

If you walk into the bank angry and loud, then you will probably walk out of the bank angry and loud. Be nice because you are asking the bank to refund charges that you agreed to pay, remember? If you request a refund in writing, keep the tone of your letter friendly and calm. Inflammatory words in person or otherwise decrease your chances of receiving a refund. 

Fighting overdraft charges starts with you. Track your expenses and deposits and opt out of Regulation E. Doing those two things should keep you overdraft charge free. If by chance you receive an overdraft charge after doing the first two steps suggested, then ask for a refund, but do it kindly and respectfully. Fighting overdraft charges takes work, but it is worth it.