For anyone who manages the household finances, you’ll understand the frustration of a bill arriving just days before the money you need to pay it with has reached your account. And then the fees start to hit.
Unfortunately my husband (our regulars will spot my new married-name!) accidentally transferred his contribution to our mortgage to the wrong bank account.
He (conveniently) transferred the money to his personal account, rather than our joint account. I had my suspicions that this was a deliberate mistake, but just two months into married life, it seemed mean to judge him like that.
I called our bank, HSBC, to explain that there’d been a hiccup and the money was being transferred – worried that a penalty may be on its way. The bank waived this charge but unfortunately another one followed when we went overdrawn again waiting for the books to balance.
The error was of course our fault (or his should I say his!) and the bank were able to refund one charge as a one-off goodwill gesture. But it’s easy to see how these fees can quickly spiral out of control.
HSBC has now changed its unauthorised overdraft policy from a £25 fee to a £5 daily usage fee payable every day a customer is over their agreed limit. The daily usage fee is capped at £80 in one monthly charging period.
I’ve now set up an authorised overdraft, and we’re trying to put away a little more each month to stop this from happening again.
And it appears I’m not alone. Our new research reveals that around 2.5 million people, say they’ve used an unauthorised overdraft in the last 12 months. More than two thirds say the fees and charges are too high or unfair, and around a third have been surprised by the amount they were charged.
Fees and charges too high
More than 200 people have left comments along these lines on our Sneaky Fees and Charges campaign, including Matthew:
‘I was stung by bank charges when a charity cashed a cheque after five and a half months. I paid the charge for not having funds in that account, though there was plenty in my main account. Then, when the next statement came, I was charged for an overdraft. I rang the bank and they did remit all the charges.’
Yvonne told us:
‘I’ve been stung with bank charges for being overdrawn for less than a pound for less than a day!’
Have you been stung by a fee you weren’t expecting – or accidentally slipped into your overdraft when juggling the bills? Do you think more could be done to make the fees manageable for those in financial difficulty?