Overdraft

Last updated
"I warn you, Sir! The discourtesy of this bank is beyond all limits. One word more and I - I withdraw my overdraft!"
Cartoon from Punch Magazine Vol. 152, June 27, 1917 Overdraft - Punch cartoon - Project Gutenberg eText 16113.png
"I warn you, Sir! The discourtesy of this bank is beyond all limits. One word more and I – I withdraw my overdraft!"
Cartoon from Punch Magazine Vol. 152, June 27, 1917

An overdraft occurs when money is withdrawn from a bank account and the available balance goes below zero. In this situation the account is said to be "overdrawn". If there is a prior agreement with the account provider for an overdraft, and the amount overdrawn is within the authorized overdraft limit, then interest is normally charged at the agreed rate. If the negative balance exceeds the agreed terms, then additional fees may be charged and higher interest rates may apply.

Bank financial institution

A bank is a financial institution that accepts deposits from the public and creates credit. Lending activities can be performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Due to their importance in the financial stability of a country, banks are highly regulated in most countries. Most nations have institutionalized a system known as fractional reserve banking under which banks hold liquid assets equal to only a portion of their current liabilities. In addition to other regulations intended to ensure liquidity, banks are generally subject to minimum capital requirements based on an international set of capital standards, known as the Basel Accords.

In banking and accounting, the outstanding balance is the amount of money owed,, that remains in a deposit account.

Contents

History

The first overdraft facility was set up in 1728 by the Royal Bank of Scotland. The merchant William Hogg was having problems in balancing his books and was able to come to an agreement with the newly established bank that allowed him to withdraw money from his empty account to pay his debts before he received his payments. He was thus the first recipient of cash credit from a bank in the world. [1] Within decades, the advantages of this system, both for customers and banks, became apparent, and banks across the United Kingdom adopted this innovation.

The Royal Bank of Scotland, commonly abbreviated as RBS, is one of the retail banking subsidiaries of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, together with NatWest and Ulster Bank. The Royal Bank of Scotland has around 700 branches, mainly in Scotland, though there are branches in many larger towns and cities throughout England and Wales. Both the bank and its parent, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, are completely separate from the fellow Edinburgh-based bank, the Bank of Scotland, which pre-dates The Royal Bank of Scotland by 32 years. The Royal Bank of Scotland was established in 1724 to provide a bank with strong Hanoverian and Whig ties.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

With the onset of industrialization, new businesses needed an easy form of credit to jump-start their activities, without having to take out loans on securities they did not necessarily have. The importance of this new financial innovation was recognized by the philosopher David Hume who described it in one of his essays as "one of the most ingenious ideas that has been executed in commerce". [2]

Industrial Revolution Transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the 18th-19th centuries

The Industrial Revolution, now also known as the First Industrial Revolution, was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Europe and the United States, in the period from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840. This transition included going from hand production methods to machines, new chemical manufacturing and iron production processes, the increasing use of steam power and water power, the development of machine tools and the rise of the mechanized factory system. The Industrial Revolution also led to an unprecedented rise in the rate of population growth.

David Hume Scottish philosopher, economist, and historian

David Hume was a Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, scepticism, and naturalism. Hume's empiricist approach to philosophy places him with John Locke, George Berkeley, Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes as a British Empiricist. Beginning with his A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–40), Hume strove to create a total naturalistic science of man that examined the psychological basis of human nature. Against philosophical rationalists, Hume held that passion rather than reason governs human behaviour. Hume argued against the existence of innate ideas, positing that all human knowledge is founded solely in experience.

Reasons for overdrafts

Overdrafts occur for a variety of reasons. These may include:

An interbank network, also known as an ATM consortium or ATM network, is a computer network that enables ATM cards issued by a financial institution that is a member of the network to be used to perform ATM transactions through ATMs that belong to another member of the network.

Contract agreement having a lawful object entered into voluntarily by multiple parties (may be explicitly written or oral)

A contract is a legally binding agreement which recognises and governs the rights and duties of the parties to the agreement. A contract is legally enforceable because it meets the requirements and approval of the law. An agreement typically involves the exchange of goods, services, money, or promises of any of those. In the event of breach of contract, the law awards the injured party access to legal remedies such as damages and cancellation.

Chargeback is the return of funds to a consumer, initiated by the issuing bank of the instrument used by a consumer to settle a debt. Specifically, it is the reversal of a prior outbound transfer of funds from a consumer's bank account, line of credit, or credit card.

United Kingdom

Overdrafts in the UK

Banks in the UK normally offer an overdraft facility free of charge, subject to a pre-arranged limit (formerly known as an authorized overdraft limit). Interest, fees or both would normally be charged if the facility is used but accounts may have an interest-free buffer of a few tens of pounds or a higher deliberate feature of a few hundred pounds interest free.

When a transaction would exceed the previously agreed overdraft limit the bank can choose either to decline the transaction or to accept it as an informal request for an increase, formerly often known as an unauthorized overdraft. Charges and interest rates for informal increases will often exceed those for a formal request. There is also normally a fee per declined transaction, often subject to monthly caps. Usually, the bank sends out a letter informing the customer of the charge and requesting that the account be operated within its limits from that point onwards or informing the customer of their new limit. In a BBC Whistleblower programme on the practice, it was noted that the actual cost to the bank was less than two pounds.[ citation needed ]

Accounts exist with overdraft protection facilities which guarantee that the bank will not allow an informal overdraft and which may have lower charges for refusing transactions, protecting the customer from the interest and charges which would be incurred if an overdraft was granted. Accounts for those under eighteen years old will not normally permit an overdraft to be created.

Amount of fees

No major UK bank has completely dropped informal overdraft charges. Some, however, offer a "buffer zone", where customers will not be charged if they are over their limit by less than a certain amount. Other banks tend to charge fees regardless of the amount of the level of the overdraft, which is seen by some as unfair. In response to criticism, Lloyds Banking Group changed its fee structure; rather than a single monthly fee for an unauthorized overdraft, they now charge per day. They also allow a 'grace period' where an account holder can pay money in before 2:30pm on a weekday before any items are returned. Alliance & Leicester formerly had a buffer zone facility (marketed as a "last few pounds" feature of their account), but this has been withdrawn.

In general, the fee charged for an informal request is between £25 and £30, along with an increased rate of debit interest. The charges for cheques and Direct Debits which are refused (or "bounced") due to insufficient funds are usually the same as or slightly less than the general overdraft fees, and can be charged on top of them. A situation which has provoked much controversy is the bank declining a cheque/Direct Debit, levying a fee which takes the customer overdrawn and then charging them for going overdrawn. However, some banks, like Halifax, have a "no fees on fees" policy whereby an account that goes overdrawn solely because of an unpaid item fee will not be charged an additional fee.

In 2006 the Office of Fair Trading issued a statement which concluded that credit card issuers were levying penalty charges when customers exceeded their maximum spend limit and / or made late payments to their accounts. In the statement, the OFT recommended that credit card issuers set such fees at a maximum of £12. [5]

In the statement, the OFT opined that the fees charged by credit card issuers were analogous to unauthorized overdraft fees charged by banks. Many customers who incurred unauthorized overdraft fees used this statement as a springboard to sue their banks in order to recover the fees.

The Supreme Court in 2009 held that the OFT statement was not binding for current (checking) accounts and largely resolved the matter in favor of the banks. [6]

United States

Consumer reporting and account denial

In the United States some consumer reporting agencies such as ChexSystems, Early Warning Services, and TeleCheck track how people manage their checking accounts. Banks use the agencies to screen checking account applicants. Those with low debit scores are denied checking accounts because a bank can not afford an account to be overdrawn. [7] [8] [9]

Overdraft protection in the US

Overdraft protection is a financial service offered by banking institutions primarily in the United States. Overdraft or courtesy pay program protection pays items presented to a customer's account when sufficient funds are not present to cover the amount of the withdrawal. Overdraft protection can cover ATM withdrawals, purchases made with a debit card, electronic transfers, and checks. In the case of non-preauthorized items such as checks, or ACH withdrawals, overdraft protection allows for these items to be paid as opposed to being returned unpaid, or bouncing. However, ATM withdrawals and purchases made with a debit or check card are considered preauthorized and must be paid by the bank when presented, even if this causes an overdraft.

Ad hoc coverage

Traditionally, the manager of a bank would look at the bank's list of overdrafts each day. If the manager saw that a favored customer had incurred an overdraft, they had the discretion to pay the overdraft for the customer. Banks traditionally did not charge for this ad hoc coverage. However, it was fully discretionary, and so could not be depended on. With the advent of large-scale interstate branch banking, traditional ad hoc coverage has practically disappeared.

The one exception to this is so-called "force pay" lists. At the beginning of each business day, branch managers often still get a computerized list of items that are pending rejection, only for accounts held in their specific branch, city or state. Generally, if a customer is able to come into the branch with cash or make a transfer to cover the amount of the item pending rejection, the manager can "force pay" the item. In addition, if there are extenuating circumstances or the item in question is from an account held by a regular customer, the manager may take a risk by paying the item, but this is increasingly uncommon. Banks have a cut-off time when this action must take place by, as after that time, the item automatically switches from "pending rejection" to "rejected", and no further action may be taken.

Overdraft lines of credit

This form of overdraft protection is a contractual relationship in which the bank promises to pay overdrafts up to a certain dollar limit. A consumer who wants an overdraft line of credit must complete and sign an application, after which the bank checks the consumer's credit and approves or denies the application. These lines of credit are loans and must comply with the Truth in Lending Act. As with linked accounts, banks typically charge a nominal fee per overdraft, and also charge interest on the outstanding balance. Some banks charge a small monthly fee regardless of whether the line of credit is used. This form of overdraft protection is available to consumers who meet the creditworthiness criteria established by the bank for such accounts. Once the line of credit is established, the available credit may be visible as part of the customer's available balance.

Linked accounts

Also referred to as "Overdraft Transfer Protection", a checking account can be linked to another account, such as a savings account, credit card, or line of credit. Once the link is established, when an item is presented to the checking account that would result in an overdraft, funds are transferred from the linked account to cover the overdraft. A nominal fee is usually charged for each overdraft transfer, and if the linked account is a credit card or other line of credit, the consumer may be required to pay interest under the terms of that account.

The main difference between linked accounts and an overdraft line of credit is that an overdraft line of credit is typically only usable for overdraft protection. Separate accounts that are linked for overdraft protection are independent accounts in their own right.

Bounce protection plans

A more recent product being offered by some banks is called "bounce protection".

Smaller banks offer plans administered by third party companies which help the banks gain additional fee income. [10] Larger banks tend not to offer bounce protection plans, but instead process overdrafts as disclosed in their account terms and conditions.

In either case, the bank may choose to cover overdrawn items at their discretion and charge an overdraft fee, the amount of which may or may not be disclosed. As opposed to traditional ad hoc coverage, this decision to pay or not pay overdrawn items is automated and based on objective criteria such as the customer's average balance, the overdraft history of the account, the number of accounts the customer holds with the bank, and the length of time those accounts have been open. [11] However, the bank does not promise to pay the overdraft even if the automated criteria are met.

Bounce protection plans have some superficial similarities to overdraft lines of credit and ad hoc coverage of overdrafts, but tend to operate under different rules. Like an overdraft line of credit, the balance of the bounce protection plan may be viewable as part of the customer's available balance, yet the bank reserves the right to refuse payment of an overdrawn item, as with traditional ad hoc coverage. Banks typically charge a one-time fee for each overdraft paid. A bank may also charge a recurring daily fee for each day during which the account has a negative balance.

Critics argue that because funds are advanced to a consumer and repayment is expected, bounce protection is a type of loan. [12] Because banks are not contractually obligated to cover the overdrafts, "bounce protection" is not regulated by the Truth in Lending Act, which prohibits certain deceptive advertisements and requires disclosure of the terms of loans. Historically, bounce protection could be added to a consumer's account without his or her permission or knowledge.

Transaction processing order

An area of controversy with regards to overdraft fees is the order in which a bank posts transactions to a customer's account. This is controversial because largest to smallest processing tends to maximize overdraft occurrences on a customer's account. This situation can arise when the account holder makes a number of small debits for which there are sufficient funds in the account at the time of purchase. Later, the account holder makes a large debit that overdraws the account (either accidentally or intentionally). If all of the items present for payment to the account on the same day, and the bank processes the largest transaction first, multiple overdrafts can result. Another problem for the consumer can occur when a large deposit and a larger debit occur on the same day; for example, a customer with $700 in their account who deposits a $600 paycheck and later pays an $800 rent check on the same day will be charged an overdraft fee, despite having more than enough money in their account to cover the check.[ citation needed ]

The "biggest check first" policy is common among large U.S. banks. [13] Banks argue that this is done to prevent a customer's most important transactions (such as a rent or mortgage check, or utility payment) from being returned unpaid, despite some such transactions being guaranteed. Consumers have attempted to litigate to prevent this practice, arguing that banks use "biggest check first" to manipulate the order of transactions to artificially trigger more overdraft fees to collect. Banks in the United States are mostly regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a Federal agency, which has formally approved of the practice; the practice has recently been challenged, however, under numerous individual state deceptive practice laws. [14] [15] In class action, U.S. Bank Corporation entered into a $55 million settlement agreement on January 16, 2014 over the practice of reordering transactions (highest-lowest) in posting debit card transactions to customer accounts and the alleged effect the posting order had on the number of overdraft fees charged to account holders. [16]

Bank deposit agreements usually provide that the bank may clear transactions in any order, at the bank's discretion. [17]

Opt-in regulation

In July, 2010 the Federal Reserve adopted regulations (revisions to Regulation E) which prohibited overdraft fees resulting from one time debit card and ATM transactions unless the bank customer had opted into overdraft protection. Consumers who opt into overdraft programs pay more than seven times as much in overdraft and NSF fees, averaging almost $260 a year, based on a recent report from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. [18] Research by Moebs Services released in February, 2011 showed that as many as 90% of customers had chosen overdraft protection resulting in the projection that United States banks would post record profits from overdraft fees. [19]

Alternatives to overdraft protection

Fintech innovations & overdraft protection apps have led to viable alternatives to overdraft fees. [20]

Related Research Articles

A debit card is a plastic payment card that can be used instead of cash when making purchases. It is similar to a credit card, but unlike a credit card, the money is immediately transferred directly from the cardholder's bank account when performing any transaction.

Non-sufficient funds (NSF) is a term used in the banking industry to indicate that a cheque cannot be honored because insufficient funds are available in the account on which the instrument was drawn. An NSF check is often referred to as a bad check, dishonored check, bounced check, cold check, rubber check, returned item, or hot check. In England and Wales and Australia, such checks are typically returned marked "Refer to Drawer", an instruction to contact the person issuing the check for an explanation as to why the check was not honored.

A transaction account, also called a checking account, chequing account, current account, demand deposit account, or share draft account at credit unions, is a deposit account held at a bank or other financial institution. It is available to the account owner "on demand" and is available for frequent and immediate access by the account owner or to others as the account owner may direct. Access may be in a variety of ways, such as cash withdrawals, use of debit cards, cheques (checks) and electronic transfer. In economic terms, the funds held in a transaction account are regarded as liquid funds. In accounting terms they are considered as cash.

Cheque fraud (en-GB), or check fraud (en-US), refers to a category of criminal acts that involve making the unlawful use of cheques in order to illegally acquire or borrow funds that do not exist within the account balance or account-holder's legal ownership. Most methods involve taking advantage of the float to draw out these funds. Specific kinds of cheque fraud include cheque kiting, where funds are deposited before the end of the float period to cover the fraud, and paper hanging, where the float offers the opportunity to write fraudulent cheques but the account is never replenished.

Cheque method of payment

A cheque, or check, is a document that orders a bank to pay a specific amount of money from a person's account to the person in whose name the cheque has been issued. The person writing the cheque, known as the drawer, has a transaction banking account where their money is held. The drawer writes the various details including the monetary amount, date, and a payee on the cheque, and signs it, ordering their bank, known as the drawee, to pay that person or company the amount of money stated.

Paycheck document issued by an employer to pay an employee for services rendered

A paycheck, also spelled pay check or pay cheque, is traditionally a paper document issued by an employer to pay an employee for services rendered. In recent times, the physical paycheck has been increasingly replaced by electronic direct deposits to the employee's designated bank account or loaded onto a payroll card. Employees may still receive a pay slip to detail the calculations of the final payment amount.

StormPay of TN was an electronic money auction payment processor run by Stormpay Incorporated, a Clarksville, Tennessee, United States company founded in October 2002 by John R. McConnell, Jr. and the CEO, Steve Girsky. It allowed anyone with an e-mail address to buy or sell StormPay Auction items after opening an online account.

Payment card card that can be used to make a payment

Payment cards are part of a payment system issued by financial institutions, such as a bank, to a customer that enables its owner to access the funds in the customer's designated bank accounts, or through a credit account and make payments by electronic funds transfer and access automated teller machines (ATMs). Such cards are known by a variety of names including bank cards, ATM cards, MAC, client cards, key cards or cash cards.

An ATM card is a payment card or dedicated payment card issued by a financial institution which enables a customer to access automated teller machines (ATMs). ATM cards are payment card size and style plastic cards with a magnetic stripe or a plastic smart card with a chip that contains a unique card number and some security information such as an expiration date or CVVC (CVV). ATM cards are known by a variety of names such as bank card, MAC, client card, key card or cash card, among others. Most payment cards, such as debit and credit cards can also function as ATM cards, although ATM-only cards are also available. Charge and proprietary cards cannot be used as ATM cards. The use of a credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM is treated differently to a POS transaction, usually attracting interest charges from the date of the cash withdrawal. Interbank networks allow the use of ATM cards at ATMs of private operators and financial institutions other than those of the institution that issued the cards.

An unavailable funds fee is a penalty fee applied by a bank on a transaction account when a transaction is posted to an account that has negative available balance even though it has a positive physical balance. The fee is distinct from a non-sufficient funds fee as there is a positive physical balance but some or all the funds are on hold meaning that the balance is not yet available.

Line of credit credit source extended to a government, business or individual by a bank or other financial institution

A line of credit is a credit facility extended by a bank or other financial institution to a government, business or individual customer that enables the customer to draw on the facility when the customer needs funds. A line of credit takes several forms, such as an overdraft limit, demand loan, special purpose, export packing credit, term loan, discounting, purchase of commercial bills, traditional revolving credit card account, etc. It is effectively a source of funds that can readily be tapped at the borrower's discretion. Interest is paid only on money actually withdrawn. Lines of credit can be secured by collateral, or may be unsecured.

Authorization hold is the practice within the banking industry of verifying electronic transactions initiated with a debit card or credit card and rendering this balance as unavailable until either the merchant clears the transaction, also called settlement, or the hold "falls off."

ATM usage fees are the fees that many banks and interbank networks charge for the use of their automated teller machines (ATMs). In some cases, these fees are assessed solely for non-members of the bank; in other cases, they apply to all users.

Credit card fraud Financial crime

Credit card fraud is a wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using or involving a payment card, such as a credit card or debit card, as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction. The purpose may be to obtain goods without paying, or to obtain unauthorized funds from an account. Credit card fraud is also an adjunct to identity theft. According to the United States Federal Trade Commission, while the rate of identity theft had been holding steady during the mid 2000s, it increased by 21 percent in 2008. However, credit card fraud, that crime which most people associate with ID theft, decreased as a percentage of all ID theft complaints for the sixth year in a row.

Credit card card for financial transactions from a line of credit

A credit card is a payment card issued to users (cardholders) to enable the cardholder to pay a merchant for goods and services based on the cardholder's promise to the card issuer to pay them for the amounts plus the other agreed charges. The card issuer creates a revolving account and grants a line of credit to the cardholder, from which the cardholder can borrow money for payment to a merchant or as a cash advance.

Alternative payments refers to payment methods that are used as an alternative to credit card payments. Most alternative payment methods address a domestic economy or have been specifically developed for electronic commerce and the payment systems are generally supported and operated by local banks. Each alternative payment method has its own unique application and settlement process, language and currency support, and is subject to domestic rules and regulations.

A deposit account is a savings account, current account or any other type of bank account that allows money to be deposited and withdrawn by the account holder. These transactions are recorded on the bank's books, and the resulting balance is recorded as a liability for the bank and represents the amount owed by the bank to the customer. Some banks may charge a fee for this service, while others may pay the customer interest on the funds deposited.

Venmo is a mobile payment service owned by PayPal. Venmo account holders can transfer funds to others via a mobile phone app; both the sender and receiver have to live in the U.S. Venmo is a type of payment rail. It handled $12 billion in transactions in the first quarter of 2018.

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