Dodge Annoying Overdraft Fees

Use these strategies to avoid dipping below your checking account balance.

Couple worried about personal finances
(Image credit: Getty Images/Hemera)

Many bank customers who inadvertently overdraw their checking accounts still feel the bite of hefty fees. Under federal law, your bank may not enroll you automatically in its overdraft coverage program, but it can ask you to opt in. If you do, the bank pays the excess charges but then hits you with a stiff fee. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that the median charge at a large bank is $34, even though most offending debit card transactions are for $24 or less. With or without overdraft protection, the bank may bounce a check or automated payment.

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Lisa Gerstner
Editor, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine

Lisa has been the editor of Kiplinger Personal Finance since June 2023. Previously, she spent more than a decade reporting and writing for the magazine on a variety of topics, including credit, banking and retirement. She has shared her expertise as a guest on the Today Show, CNN, Fox, NPR, Cheddar and many other media outlets around the nation. Lisa graduated from Ball State University and received the school’s “Graduate of the Last Decade” award in 2014. A military spouse, she has moved around the U.S. and currently lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband and two sons.