What to Do When Your Bank Account is Overdrawn

Here are some tips for what to do when your bank account becomes overdrawn.

Have you ever logged into your online banking to see that your bank balance is red with a nasty looking minus sign in front of it? Ooops! Your bank account is overdrawn.

The overdraft

If your checking account (click here to find out more about opening an account) has an overdraft it means that your bank balance has gone below zero. If your bank provides an overdraft, this will be authorized within a certain limit and then interest will be charged. However, if your overdraft exceeds the amount allowed by your bank then you can be punished with additional fees and higher interest rates.

Being overdrawn on your account might happen for a number of reasons. You might be short of money and need to use your overdraft for emergency fees, or you might not have checked how much was in your account before making a withdrawal. Your account could have also had authorized electronic withdrawals taking from it, or a cheque that you deposited could have bounced.

What to do next

If you find yourself overdrawn you should rectify the situation as soon as possible, or you might find yourself trapped in a spiral of fees which can be difficult to get out of. Here are a few things to do to fix the situation :
  • Stop using your account. If you make another transaction on an account which is already overdrawn you can be charged another fee.
  • Deposit cash into your account as soon as possible. You might need to tap into a savings account so that you can get a deposit into your account and bring your balance up to positive as soon as possible.
  • Contact the customer service number at your bank. Do this as soon as possible so that they know that you are on top of your mistake and you are trying to correct it.
  • Explain that you made a mistake, and ask politely if the bank can help you by removing the overdraft fees. If you stay level headed and calm and ask nicely, the fees will often be waived.
  • If the person in customer service that you speak to will not remove your fees, ask to speak to a supervisor instead.
  • In the future, keep track of your spending so that you do not go into your overdraft again. If it becomes a reoccurring problem then you will have a harder time asking the banks to waive your fees in the future.
  • You might want to keep a bit of extra money in your account so that if you come up against unexpected expenses you won’t dip below zero.
If you follow these steps you should be able to solve the problem of being overdrawn very quickly and avoid paying the fees.

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