It is well documented that payday loans have received plenty of criticism since
they were introduced, but what seems to have slipped under the net is that of
bank overdrafts. However, in a recent report by Which, it is clear that some
banks actually charge customers a lot more in fees than those of payday lenders.
The research from the consumer body examined unaranged overdraft charges and
discovered that customers could be charged up to twelve times and above for an
overdraft as little as £100. This was found to be across the board with several
large high street banks identified as culprits.
Payday loan companies recently found themselves capped by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on the charges that they can relay to their customers. The report found that for a loan of £100 for 28 days some banks would charge £90 which is more than 4 times the amount of a maximum charge for a payday loan lender of £22.40. RBS was found to charge £90 whilst name such as HSBC, Lloyds and TSB were a little less at £80. Which has said it believes the FCA should investigate unplanned overdraft charges and review what banks can charge too.
The Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) has said that banks should be able to
set their own unplanned overdraft cap.
In order to play fair it seems there should be some external body imposing
regulations on overdraft charges. There is now a clear disparity between someone
taking out a payday loan and someone, perhaps unintentionally, going overdrawn.
The latter could clearly be charged much more for ‘borrowing’ in some cases
a smaller amount. Which has stated that the overdraft charge issue could have a
large impact on the most vulnerable of people.
In their defence some banks have come out to say they do have measures in place
to help customers that go overdrawn without planning to. The banks say they
encourage customers to contact them if they are experiencing difficulties and
that arranged overdrafts could solve the problem of high charges.
The British Banker’s Association has supported banks and says that charges
today for overdrafts are considerably less than in 2008. They say tools like
online calculators, text alerts and itemised bank charges should help customers
manage their accounts and be aware of any issues quickly.
Whilst maintaining a two way dialogue with any lender is important those that
creep into an unplanned overdraft often should be aware of alternative sources
of lending that could be much cheaper.