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One in 12 Brits has been hit by going into their unauthorised overdraft in the past year, according to a study.

Accidental costs

Research* carried out for us found that 8% of respondents revealed that they had been charged by their bank, building society, or account provider for going overdrawn when they hadn’t planned to. This can happen all too easily, especially around Christmas if shoppers aren’t keeping track of how much they are spending.

Some basic bank accounts offer a buffer limit of around £10 or £15 where customers wouldn’t have to pay charges, but go over this amount and the fees could start to rack up every day. One provider charges £10 for any unpaid transactions, and this can be paid up to three times a day.

7% of respondents also admitted that they had been charged for ‘bounced’ payments at some point in the past year – Direct Debits, Standing Orders, or cheques that they didn’t have enough money in their account to afford.

Planned payments

It wasn’t just the accidental charges on accounts that were hitting customers. Almost a fifth of respondents said that they had paid daily usage fees for going into their authorised overdraft in the past 12 months.

Charges can quickly start to mount up for customers, particularly if they don’t know that the fees applied to their accounts. Whilst the numbers of customers racking up these charges may seem small, it can really stretch the finances of those who are paying them. Account holders who end up dipping into their unauthorised overdrafts may be likely to be the ones who are struggling most with managing their money, so they could be hit even harder by having to deal with extra charges. However, not all accounts incur these kinds of fees, such as thinkmoney’s Current Account.

The thinkmoney Current Account has one monthly flat-rate fee of £14.50 and it won’t let you go overdrawn, so you’ll never accidentally spend more than you have in your account.

What’s more, you won’t be charged for an accidental bounced payment either, as the budgeting-style account sets aside all the money from your salary you need for all the Direct Debits and Standing Orders that you’ve told us about, meaning you won’t be able to go over budget and spend your rent.

*OnePoll questioned a nationally representative sample of 2,000 adults aged 18 and over between 10th January and 15th January 2014.

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