Want to boost your credit score? Join the waitlist for a new Cushion offering coming soon!

How to Get Overdraft Fees Refunded

By Brooke Vaughan // September 3, 2020

Photo for article about how to get overdraft fees refunded
Courtesy of Karolina Grabowska/Pexels

Credit card and bank fees — such as overdraft and returned item fees, service and interest charges, ATM fees, and more — have the potential to wreck your personal finance management. Fortunately, you don’t have to sit back and watch banks and credit card companies take your money. 

Overdraft fees are a significant issue among consumers, accounting for nearly 30% of the fees Cushion detects on customers’ accounts. Some banks offer courtesy overdraft relief programs, such as Wells Fargo’s Overdraft Rewind feature. But there are a few ways you can get bank fees back even without those options, whether your account is at Bank of America, U.S. Bank, or any other U.S. financial institution. 

Cushion can handle the negotiation for you — all you have to do is sign up. But if you’re looking to take on your bank alone, getting overdraft charges back is easier than you might think. 

Banks pay a lot of money to bring on new customers, so they would rather waive a couple of $36 overdraft fees than lose you altogether. Consider this leverage. 

If you’re wondering: Can you get overdraft fees waived? The answer is yes. Here are the things you should know when contacting your bank to request a refund for overdraft charges.  

How Did You Get an Overdraft Fee in the First Place?

An overdraft occurs when you don’t have enough money in your bank account to cover an ATM withdrawal, debit card purchase, online payment, or transfer. For instance, if you have $2 in your account and buy lunch for $10, you will overdraft. To overdraft your account, you have to be opted into overdraft protection. Once opted in, the bank can allow you to overdraft your account by loaning you the funds for a purchase, but they will charge you a fee for doing it. 

Overdraft protection does not apply to pre-authorized transactions, such as written checks and recurring automatic payments. This means that even if you don’t opt in but you write a check and it bounces or you have an automatic payment scheduled to come out of your account, you could still get an overdraft fee. Fortunately, there are a couple ways to get overdraft protection fee refunds.

For how to get back overdraft fees from your bank, read on. 

How to Get Overdraft Fees Waived

It may seem like a hassle — and may even be intimidating — getting overdraft fees waived. How to get rid of overdraft fees varies by institution. However, if you gather necessary information and prepare your argument beforehand, you’ll increase your chances of getting bank overdraft charges refunded. Here’s how to get ready for your call: 

Prepare your personal information
Your bank will ask for personal information in order to verify your identity. Be prepared with:

  • Your name
  • Address
  • Social security number
  • Debit or credit card number

Introduce yourself
Try using this script: “Hello. My name is [your name], and I recently received an overdraft fee while using my card. I’m contacting you to see if you would be willing to refund this fee.” 

Craft your response
At this point, it’s possible your bank may say that they don’t refund fees. Don’t get discouraged. They often can — and will — when presented with a compelling argument. 

  • Have you been financially affected by COVID-19? 
  • Are you a loyal customer who has banked with the institution for an extended period of time? 
  • Do you have multiple accounts with the bank, such as a savings account, business account, or another personal checking account? 
  • Do you make regular deposits to your account? 
  • Is this overdraft a rare occurrence? 

These arguments are all worthy of a waived overdraft fee, but it’s important to remember a few other things while you’re on the phone with your bank.

3 Important Things to Remember When You’re on the Phone

  1. Be polite. The customer service agent that you’re speaking with likely didn’t write the rules on whether or not they can grant overdraft fee refunds. Be patient, and be kind. 
  2. Be persistent. Have several arguments prepared if possible. Focus on your value as a customer rather than why you got the fee. If the agent insists that they can’t help you, politely ask to speak with a supervisor.
  3. Be prepared to not get a fee refunded every time. As a matter of fact, the more frequently you overdraft your account (and call to waive the charges) the less likely your bank will be willing to waive fees in the future. Also keep in mind that sometimes it depends on which agent you speak with. Even if one agent won’t refund the fee, try calling again to pitch your argument to another agent.

How Can Cushion Help?

Cushion’s ⚛️ Fee Genius scans your accounts regularly, catches pesky fees, figures out what is negotiable, and more. We provide you with all of the “what” behind fee negotiation so you only have to figure out the “how” of negotiating your fees.

And if you want Cushion to negotiate your fees for you, well we’re sort of geniuses at that too. To date, we’ve refunded our customers more than $10 million in bank and credit card fees. If you’d like to opt into our 💭 Fee Negotiation add-on, just flip the switch during sign-up or in the Profile tab of your dashboard.

How Can You Avoid Overdraft Fees?

Now that you’ve succeeded (or at least made a valiant effort) in getting your bank to waive the fee, it’s time to buckle down on avoiding any future fees — so you won’t have to fight bank overdraft fees and make that same call again. We’ve answered, “Can overdraft fees be refunded?” Now we’re going to tackle, “How can you avoid them in the first place?”

Keep an eye on your account balance and charges.
Although this might seem obvious, it can easily fall by the wayside. Banks are not legally required to notify you if you’ve overdrafted, so they could apply the fee and deduct money from your account without you ever having known. Keep in mind that banks can charge multiple overdraft fees in a single day. If you make a number of purchases or all of your bills come out at once, you could find yourself hundreds of dollars in the red. 

Sign up for low-balance notifications.
Rather than manually checking your balance and charges, you can sign up for notifications that alert you when you’re nearing a low balance. Most mobile banking apps offer this feature and allow you to set the threshold yourself so it’ll notify you at as low or high of a balance as you’d like. 

Don’t opt into overdraft protection.
In 2010, it became mandatory for banks to require customers to opt in before charging overdraft fees. While opting in still seems to be the default for many account holders, not opting in could save you a ton of money. If you try to make a purchase that’ll send you into overdraft, the purchase will simply be declined. 

Consider not opting in if: you don’t have a lot of essential bills to pay, you’re trying to manage your spending, or you’re an avid user of mobile banking and text message alerts. And remember that you can opt into and out of the program at any time.    

Opt into overdraft protection, but choose the right plan. 
Overdraft protection helps if you’d like the peace of mind knowing you can withdraw money or make a purchase even if the funds aren’t currently in your account. If you’d like this security, you should still be careful about which protection plan you opt into. 

Courtesy or standard overdraft protection allows you to overdraft on ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases; however, your bank will charge an overdraft fee with each transaction. There are other forms of overdraft protection that allow you to go into the red for a fraction of the price. This could include linking your account to another checking account, credit card, or line of credit. While these methods might still stick you with a fee, the fee is typically about half of what a standard overdraft charge would be.

The Bottom Line

Overdraft fees are one of the most common banking issues for American consumers. You can expect to receive an overdraft fee if you conduct a debit transaction or withdrawal and don’t have enough money in your account to cover the purchase. Overdraft fees are pricey and add up quickly, but it is not the end of the world if you get one.

Most importantly, you should move quickly to get the fee refunded by either contacting your bank on your own or signing up for Cushion to negotiate your fees on your behalf.

So can you get your overdraft fees back? The answer is yes. But there are a number of things you can proactively do to avoid overdraft situations entirely, such as signing up for low-balance notifications and reevaluating your overdraft protection status.

Cushion helps you waste less money, save more, and live a financially healthier life. We monitor your bank and credit card accounts 24/7, find and alert you about pesky fees, let you know which fees are negotiable, which banks are cooperative, and can even automatically negotiate on your behalf.* To date, Cushion has secured customers more than $11 million in bank and credit card fee refunds—and we’re just getting started.

*Cushion only negotiates fees with high refund odds. We cannot guarantee any negotiations, a regular frequency of negotiations, or fee refunds—your bank makes the final call.