Overdrafts happen when you spend more money than you have in your account.Overdraft protection can be used to cover that shortfall by moving money from another one of your accounts or by covering it as a loan or credit charge that would be repaid with interest.
For personal accounts, overdraft protection is an opt-in feature, meaning that unless you chose it, you probably don’t have it. If you’re unsure, call your financial institution and ask.
When you make an insufficient funds debit card or ATM transaction without overdraft protection the transaction will be turned down and you won’t be charged any fee. However, if that happens with a scheduled bill payment or a rejected check you could face both an insufficient funds fee and possibly a late-payment charge from whoever was supposed to be paid.
With overdraft protection, money will either be pulled from a linked account to cover the shortfall or it will be attached to a linked credit account. Either way, you’ll still likely be charged a transfer fee and possibly interest costs if credit is used, but at least your payment will be covered.
While overdraft services are an option to protect you in the case of an overdrawn account, you can and should closely monitor your account with online and mobile banking.
By setting up text or email alerts and closely monitoring your account balance, you’ll know when you’re close to overdrawing and you’ll be able to either transfer money on your own to prevent a shortfall or you’ll know not to spend that money until you have sufficient funds in your account.
Take the time to assess your needs and then schedule an appointment with a personal banker at your financial institution to review your options and make decisions about the best way to protect yourself from overspending on your account.