The end of automatic overdraft protection

July 1, 2010 4:25:04 PM PDT
Big changes are coming to your ATM card. Starting now, banks must get permission from new customers before enrolling them in overdraft protection plans and that will apply to all debit card holders very soon. In the meantime, banks are making the pitch for consumers to opt for overdraft protection, but should you?

When it comes to overdraft fees, Valerie Runge has seen enough.

"My children have ended up with over a thousand dollars in overdraft fees because they did not decline the card when there was no money in the account," she said.

The end of the overdraft fee may be right around the corner. Banks can no longer enroll new customers into overdraft protection on ATM cards, and by August 15, banks cannot automatically place overdraft protection on existing accounts.

Consumers will have to opt in to get the protection. Those without overdraft protection could see their cards denied if they run out of money.

Consumers we spoke with say they'd rather see their ATM card rejected than get hit with overdraft fees.

"I think that is fine," said debit card user Carol Mafrige. "I think it should be the consumer's choice."

Overdraft protection will still be around, but only for consumers who opt in. Financial experts say opting may not be a good idea.

"Pay attention to how much money you have in there and make other arrangements so that you can purchase whatever it is you are trying to purchase, so I don't think it is a good decision," said money manager Tanisha Warner.

Warner says those who get a lot of overdrafts may want to consider the protection, but adds there are less expensive options.

"One very popular ones is when you have a savings account and your checking account is linked to your savings and that way, if you don't have enough money in your checking account, they will pull the money from the savings account," she said.

The overdraft protection changes are being mandated by the Federal Reserve. In response, some banks are ending free checking. So be sure to read through the material your banks send you so you don't get caught by other fees.


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