Citibank issues you an overdraft fee when you don’t have enough money in your account to complete a transaction but the bank pays for the transaction anyway. When the bank allows you to overdraw your account, they are essentially allowing your balance to fall into the negative until you are able to bring it positive again, and they will charge you a fee for covering for you.
Transactions that can trigger an overdraft fee include:
For Citibank to allow you to overdraw your account on other types of transactions, such as ATM withdrawals and debit purchases, you must be opted into one of the bank’s overdraft protection services.
Citibank charges $34 per overdraft fee.
If you overdraw your Citibank checking account, a number of scenarios could occur.
Overdraft fees most often occur when you are not opted into overdraft protection and Citibank allows you to overdraw your account on checks, ACH transactions, and other transactions that are not ATM or debit transactions.
Returned item fee
A returned item fee — or non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee — occurs when you make a purchase but there are not enough funds in your account to cover the transaction. Instead of covering for you, the bank will decline the transaction, or return the item unpaid.
Citibank charges $34 for each item that is returned unpaid. The bank will not charge you a returned item fee for ATM or debit card transactions, but can charge you a fee for checks, ACH transactions, or any other non-ATM or non-debit transaction.
Overdraft protection transfer fee
Overdraft protection transfer fees most often occur when you are opted into overdraft protection and Citibank allows you to overdraw your account and transfer funds from another account in order to cover the transaction. Rather than a $34 overdraft or returned item fee, Citibank will charge a $10 overdraft protection transfer fee if you are opted into the program.
To enable overdraft protection, you must link a qualified account so that the bank can transfer funds from one account to another in the event of an overdraft. Qualified accounts include:
Citibank limits the number of overdraft fees — including both overdraft fees and returned item fees — to four on a single day.
You may also incur an overdraft fee if Citibank charges a routine checking account fee, such as a monthly service fee, that overdraws your account or increases the amount that your account is overdrawn.
Overdraft protection can help if you’d like peace of mind knowing that your purchases can be covered even if you don’t have sufficient funds in your account. However, overdraft protection is not mandatory, and not opting in could actually save you a significant amount of money. A study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that opted-in accounts typically pay more bank fees than accounts that aren’t opted in, which is why you should carefully consider whether or not it makes more financial sense to opt in.
Remember: You can opt into or out of overdraft protection at any time.
Overdraft fees are one of the most common charges detected on Cushion customers’ accounts, but there are small actions that you can take to avoid them:
Unfortunately, mistakes happen and you may end up with an overdraft fee. While the penalty may sting in the moment, there are actually ways for you to put that money back into your account. When starting a negotiation with a Citibank representative, you should follow these steps.
Prepare your information
Name, address, bank account number, and the fees that you’d like to negotiate.
“Hello. My name is [your name], and I recently received an overdraft fee. I’m contacting you to see if you would be willing to refund this fee.”
Have your points of leverage ready
Are you experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19? Is this overdraft a rare occurrence? Are you a loyal customer who has banked with Citibank for an extended period of time? Do you have multiple accounts with the bank? Do you make regular deposits?
Be patient, persistent, and prepared not to get a refund every time
Remember: The Citibank representative that you speak to likely didn’t write the rules on bank fee refunds. Be kind and patient throughout the process.
You also shouldn’t hesitate to press the issue if you initially hear “no”. It might be part of the bank’s policy not to issue refunds, but your points of leverage can help change the representative’s mind. Sometimes, success depends on the representative that you speak with, so try calling back a few days later to speak with someone new.
Finally, you unfortunately have to be willing to lose some negotiations. If you’re not able to get the refund this time, try not to get discouraged. Take the necessary steps to avoid an overdraft fee in the future.
Find Citibank’s full Client Manual for consumer accounts here.