How To Negotiate Overdraft Fees

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Overdraft fees occur when there is insufficient money in your account to cover what you have spent. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), while overdraft fees can vary depending on the company you bank with, they often cost around $35 per transaction. 

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While $35 may not seem like a lot initially, many banks charge the fee for each transaction that exceeds your account balance. Banks may also charge daily overdraft fees, which is an additional charge for each day that your account remains overdrawn. 

Before you know it, you could have hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees. While you may feel in over your head, it is important to note that many banks will work with you to get your account in order including waiving some of those dreaded charges. Here are the steps you can take to negotiate overdraft fees with your bank.

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Get Prepared

The first thing you need to do is get prepared. Be armed with facts about how long you have been with the bank and whether you have asked for fee forgiveness in the past. Banks will be more willing to work with longstanding customers who do not routinely overdraft. The more data that you have to back up your good customer behavior, the better. 

Pick Up the Phone

It might seem simple, but giving your bank a call is one of the best ways to get them to do you a favor. A real person is more likely to be swayed by your emotional plea than a bot. Banks will list their customer service number online or you can find it on the back of your debit card.

Big banks like Bank of America have been under a lot of pressure lately because of their excessive fees. Bank of America was recently sued for failing to refund overdraft fees during the pandemic. These lawsuits have definitely made banks more willing to work with customers. 

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Be Open and Honest

Remember, you are asking for a favor. Yelling at a customer service representative will probably not get you any closer to your goal. Explain what happened. Let them know that this was an extraordinary situation and the steps you are taking to remedy the problem. 

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Were you unable to pick up shifts at work or did you fail to factor in a one-time payment? Whatever the cause, just politely inform the bank rep and ask them if they could waive the fee. You can always refer back to your banking history to show what a solid customer you have been. 

Ask For a Supervisor

Not all representatives have the authority to waive fees. If you are going in circles with the person on the phone, you have the right to ask for a supervisor. Again, being respectful is key. Be professional and courteous. There is nothing wrong with seeking another person’s help.

Offer To Enroll In Overdraft Protection

One bargaining tool may be to offer to enroll in overdraft protection. As noted by the FDIC, you must opt in to have this kind of protection. If you choose not to, the bank may decline purchases that cannot be covered by the balance in your checking account. Overdraft protection may sound nice, but you should read the fine print. It does not mean that you will not be charged fees. 

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In addition to overdraft protection, you can also have funds transferred from your savings account to your checking if you have insufficient funds. Offering to enroll in this kind of protection can not only potentially help you get your fees waived now but it also may help prevent them in the future. 

Consider Switching Banks

If your bank is absolutely unwilling to work with you, you might want to consider taking your business elsewhere. A one-time request for the waiver of overdraft fees should not be something that a bank absolutely refuses to do. If that is the case, there are plenty of other banking options. 

It might not help you get a refund on your overdraft fees now, but it could help you in the future. Several banks have opted to cut overdraft fees altogether. Research both brick-and-mortar and non-traditional banks to see which is the best fit for your financial situation.

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