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.
Talking with Your Bank About Overdraft Fee Refunds
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.
I’m a Great / Long-Time Customer
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.
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:
- Be Straightforward, not rude: The person you’ll be talking to is just one part of a larger machine. They don’t write the bank policies and sometimes don’t have the power to make a refund on their own authority. If they can’t help you with the refund process, ask to speak with a supervisor instead.
- Be Succinct: The situation surrounding your overdraft and why it happened isn’t relevant to getting your refund. Focus on your value as a customer and the process of getting a NSF fee refund.
- Ask Focused Questions: Asking “What can you do for me?” leaves a lot of room for an unproductive response. Stick to direct questions, such as “Can you refund this overdraft fee?” While these tactics might not always work, they can certainly get you further than not making a call at all.
Preventing Overdraft Fees on Your Account
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.
Since overdraft programs are 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 be rejected without accruing a fee. Any purchase you try to make that would put you in the red is effectively rejected.
There are, however, a few exceptions to avoiding fees after you’ve cancelled any overdraft services: bounced checks and recurring payments can still land you with respective fees against your account.
Another way you can avoid overdraft disruptions and fees is by opting into an overdraft protection service. Most banks offer these services to help customers out so they can always be assured that transactions will go through, all without incurring heavy fines and deficit records in the process.
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.
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 piece of mind and fees will ultimately cost more than the transfer charges, overdraft protection may be the way to go.
Avoiding Overdraft Situations
There are multiple strategies you can use to avoid having to get NSF fee refunds. The best part about them, besides saving you money? 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 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 banks already have this integrated into their systems and may reject purchases made by your account in a foreign location, so it’s important to let your bank know when you’ll be travelling.
There’s virtually no easier way to track your spending and to set alerts for yourself than making use of a mobile app. You can find a vast array of apps suited to your spending needs, whether that’s apps that help you make and track spending limits, banking 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 credit report.
How Harvest Helps
Much like the helpful strategies and applications we’ve mentioned, Harvest can provide you with the tools you need to manage and consolidate debt on top of overdraft fee refunds. Even if you don’t suspect you 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.
Secure Account Linking
You can expect the same security from us as you can your bank (and possibly even more). We use 256-bit encryption, two-factor authentication and additional VPN services so all access to your information is secure. You’ll be able to enjoy both convenience with all of your debt in one place, as well as peace of mind knowing your information is safe with us.
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. Make overdraft fees a thing of the past and keep all of the money you’ve worked hard to save!