Uh-oh. Did you make one too many purchases with your debit card? Or maybe you forgot an automatic bill payment would take money out of your checking account this week?
If your account doesn't have the money to cover a transaction you can expect to see an overdraft fee in your account soon. Luckily, you may not actually have to pay that fee. As long as you don't have a history of overdrafts, you might be able to wipe this one from your ledger.
What Exactly Is an Overdraft Fee (and Why Does It Matter)?
First, let's touch on what an overdraft fee actually is. When you spend money that you don't have (usually with a debit card transaction or ATM withdrawal), that's called an overdraft. Your bank will cover the extra cost, but it'll expect to be paid back for that charge plus an additional charge that's called an "overdraft fee." Details about these fees depend on your bank, but you can expect to pay somewhere between $20 and $40 every time you make a charge to your account but don't have the funds to cover it (they add up really fast).
What actions to take
Call Your Financial Institution – Reach out to your bank as soon as you can. If you wait too long, you risk being seen as lazy or inattentive. Call right away, and be completely honest about how you wound up overdrafting. Even if it was a complete oversight on your part, you still have a good chance of getting the fee waived as long as you're honest and communicative.
Politely Ask to Have it Waived – This is the big moment you've built up to. Now it's time to be straightforward and ask a representative to waive the overdraft fee. Honestly, this shouldn't be as intimidating as it seems. Banks are eager to keep customers happy, so there's a good chance you'll simply be told, "no problem."
Point to a Positive Customer History – If the representative doesn't give you an immediate "yes," that's not the final word. There's room for negotiation, and your first move should be to flaunt your customer history with the bank. If you've never had an overdraft before, you should definitely mention that. If you've been with the bank for a long time, that's another good point to mention.
Speak to a Branch Manager – Sometimes representatives don't want to waive fees because they're not authorized or because they'll get in trouble for waiving too many fees. If the rep you're speaking with won't budge, ask for a branch manager. They have more power to help you out, and if you're polite they'll have more reason to accommodate you.
Your Money Matters – When it comes to overdraft fees, it only takes a small amount of effort to save you money. Don't wait, and tackle your overdraft fees now because your money is worth it.