What to Know about Overdraft Protection
If you're considering overdraft protection for your checking account at your financial institution, you'll want to spend time learning about your options, and the possible fees you could face if you overdraw your account. 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 choose 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 Member Service Representative at our credit union to review your options, and make decisions about the best way to protect yourself from overspending on your account.
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