It’s a common scenario: you didn’t check your debit account balance recently and make a small purchase, only to find out that you’re getting hit with a $30 overdraft fee for the $4 you just spent. Even those who diligently track their money every month can be blindsided by a late check or a forgotten automatic payment that takes their checking account close to or under a $0 balance. Without an instant ping to inform you the moment this happens, it can be easy to forget the pending money and make that one transaction that will accidentally put your account in the red. How do you fix this annoying scenario? We have a few tips to help you, from getting bank fee refunds to avoiding overdraft situations in the first place.
Once you see the numbers on the paper, it may seem impossible to get overdraft fee refunds from your bank. Depending on the bank, the associate you speak with (and what they may have had for breakfast that morning), you may be outright told that bank fee refunds are unavailable. Don’t be defeated just yet if that’s the case: a polite but firm approach can get you more than you might think. There are four basic steps to get your overdraft fees (and any other bank fee) refunded quickly:
1. Summarize the fees - Count up all of the overdraft fees and other bank fees you've been charged that you can find on your statements. You will need to have this information for your negotiation with the agent. It is important to get the type of fee, the date the fee occurred, and the amounts. You can also see all the fees you've been charged automatically with our fee negotiation platform.
2. Prepare a script - Once you have all of the fees, prepare a polite but firm script that outlines all the fees you've been charged and that you've been a loyal customer who would like to have the fees refunded. We go into detail about the language that should go into the script below or can automatically generate one for you on the platform.
3. Contact your bank via messenger or phone - Depending on the bank, you may be able to just message the bank directly through a secure message portal on your online bank account. Some banks only accept fee refund requests over the phone (such as Bank of America) but if you are able to communicate directly via a secure message it can save you a lot of time and make things easier. Check our bank directory for some of the more common bank contact methods or find the contact information of your bank from their website. Use the script you prepared in step 2 to start the conversation
4. Be persistent - Once you get a response from an agent over the phone or messenger, stay persistent in your request for refunds. Banks do not want to lose you as a customer and they spend more money acquiring new customers than they do giving you refunds to retain you. Escalate the request to a supervisor if unsuccessful after several attempts. Read on for more details about the negotiation.
If you don’t have a history of making late payments or overdrafting your account, you’re more likely to get a positive response when requesting that the bank offer you overdraft fee refunds. While standard practice may be to discourage customers from getting refunds, certain banks may already have forgiveness policies for first-time offenses.
Don’t be afraid to leverage your time with the bank or your history of diligent payments to encourage some leeway that may land you a refund.
It costs banks a lot more to get a new customer after losing you than it does to handle an overdraft fee to keep you, so don’t be afraid to politely use this fact to your advantage. If you’re told no outright, you can try something along the lines of, “I’ve been a reliable client since [when you started banking] and I wouldn’t want to lose that experience over one overdraft fee. What can you do to help me get a refund?” Remaining firm but mindful of your tone can help encourage the bank you’re working with to reconsider their approach.
If you are still having trouble with the agent, you can explain any extenuating circumstances you may be facing recently should you choose. The coronavirus pandemic for example has affected millions of people and banks are often willing to give out more refunds.
There are a few things you can do while on the phone to tip a favorable response your way. Keep these talking points in mind when addressing a service representative from your bank:
Stopping the need for overdraft fee refunds in the first place is a great step toward avoiding fees altogether.
Many people are unaware of the overdraft agreements that often come with opening a checking account for the first time. Since you’re likely an active participant in an overdraft program if you received an overdraft fee, stopping this from happening again can be as simple as opting out of the overdraft program your bank offers if your connected accounts are not able to cover the transactions.
Since overdraft protection is an optional service, you are free to opt out of them whenever you wish. When this happens, every transaction you make when your account is at $0 or lower will either be rejected or incur a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee. For those banks that do charge an NSF fee instead, it really puts you between a rock and a hard place! We recommend asking specifically if the bank can outright reject transactions when opted out of overdraft protection if you find yourself in this situation often. If they refuse to do so, we recommend checking out no-fee banking options.
If you've cancelled any overdraft protection services, make sure you are aware of your upcoming financial obligations. Bounced checks and recurring payments can still land you with respective fees against your account as well as trying to withdraw more funds than you have from an ATM.
You always have the option to opt back into an overdraft protection service. Most banks offer these services to help customers out who still want to be assured that transactions will go through when they swipe their debit card, despite the overdraft fees that may occur. The number one rule when opting into an overdraft protection service is to just make sure you always a sufficient balance available in your connected account.
Banks make this service possible by linking a checking account to a savings account, credit card, or other line of credit so you can pull from available funds instead of covering an overdraft with a fee from the bank.
Make sure you are aware of the nuances between linking different types of accounts. For example, with Bank of America, if you link a credit card you will also be charged the interest at the APR specified in your credit card agreement for the transaction that is covered by overdraft protection. If you're linking a savings account, withdrawing from the account more than six times a month typically results in an excess activity fee, regardless of whether that withdrawal was for a overdraft or a transfer.
While this may sound ideal, overdraft protection comes with its own caveats. You may have to pay a fixed monthly fee to have the protection or otherwise pay a transfer fee every time you charge to a debit account that doesn’t have enough money to cover the transaction.
At the end of the day, you have multiple options for handling the case of an overdraft. If it’s an exceptionally rare occurrence and you don’t mind having a transaction be rejected, opting out of overdraft programs will spare you occasional overdraft charge. If the protection gives you peace of mind and bank charges will ultimately cost more than the transfer charges, overdraft protection may be the way to go.
There are multiple strategies you can use to avoid getting overdrafts or insufficient funds fees. The best part about these strategies besides saving you money is that they can keep you aware of more than just when you’re low on funds. Utilizing alerts, applications and good budgeting principles in general will keep you aware whenever there’s an issue with your bank account, including potential identity fraud or unexpected expenses.
Low balance bank alerts are extremely helpful when it comes to avoiding overdraft fees. You can often set the threshold yourself so that you won’t be alerted needlessly, whether that means setting the bar at a couple thousand dollars or ten dollars.
Once you have an alert set, you can have peace of mind knowing you’ll be avoiding overdraft fees while simultaneously setting a means for you to know when you should avoid any unnecessary purchases.
Another popular alert to stay on top of are those for unusual activity. These types of alerts will send you a message when a purchase is made outside of the area you normally travel. Some financial institutions already have this integrated into their systems and may reject purchases made by your bank account in a foreign location, so it’s important to let your bank know when you’ll be traveling.
There’s virtually no easier way to track your spending and to set alerts for yourself then making use of a mobile app. You can find a vast array of apps suited to your spending needs, whether they are apps that help you make and track spending limits, banking or credit union apps that let you manage your account from anywhere you have a signal, or apps that track multiple lines of credit while giving you a regular update on your credit score.
Much like the helpful strategies and applications we’ve mentioned, Harvest can provide you with the tools you need to improve financial health on top of getting overdraft fee refunds automatically. Even if you suspect you don't have bank fees, more than 95% of our users find fees they hadn’t discovered before working with us.
The hardest part of handling overdraft fees can simply be identifying and approaching them. Our artificial intelligence automatically identifies fees on your accounts and starts the negotiation process for getting them removed. Whether you’re dealing with late fees, miscalculated interest rate charges, overdraft fees, monthly service fees, or a variety of other drains on your hard-earned money, we can help you find and address them.
Our simple interface and debt management strategies makes paying back your debt intuitive. Besides saving money you can put toward paying off loans, we can help you stop fees and expenses that are actively draining your accounts such as recurring payments.
You can expect the same security from us as you can your bank. We use 256-bit encryption, two-factor authentication, and additional VPN services so all access to your information is secure. Want to see how you can start getting bank fees dropped today? Sign up with us and watch as we locate and help you negotiate bank fee refunds for every type of fee including atm fees, NSF fees, monthly maintenance fees, and even credit card interest charges. Make bank charges a thing of the past and keep all of the money you’ve worked hard to save!
Harvest helps increase the net worth of the 99% through artificial intelligence and financial automation. To date, Harvest has refunded over $2M in bank fees and interest charges to its members with the ultimate goal of increasing the net worth of everyday Americans by $1 trillion by 2030. Our platform starts with providing immediate relief through bank fee and interest charge refunds, orients a member's financial health with our proprietary PRO Index™, and keeps track of net worth over time aided by our suite of financial tools. Check out our 8-step guide on "How to Build Wealth from Nothing" to get started on increasing your net worth.
Disclaimer: Harvest is not providing financial advice. The content presented does not reflect the view of the Issuing Banks and is presented for general education and informational purposes only. Please consult with a qualified professional for financial advice.