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money.co.uk comment: new rules for overdrafts

As the FCA reveals its new rules for overdrafts, money.co.uk comments on how they will benefit people across the UK.

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A radical overhaul of the overdraft market to make it fairer and more transparent, was something that was long overdue.

And consumers will welcome these new pricing rules, that will come into force next April, to simplify an overcomplicated fee structure, which only serve to line the banks' pockets, leaving customers confused and frustrated.

The FCA correctly pointed out that a disproportionately high number of vulnerable customers are going into unarranged overdraft and being hit by excessively high fees.

The overdraft market needed shaking-up and these reforms, to ban daily fixed fees, and stop firms charging higher fees for unauthorised overdrafts, will go some way to creating a system that is fair to all and easier to understand.

Having a single interest rate covering unarranged and arranged overdrafts should avoid confusion amongst consumers. By not including overdrafts within available balances, people will now have a clearer view of their finances, helping them take better control of their money

The one disappointment is that a number of banks have already hiked their overdraft fees in advance of the FCA proposals being enforced, and there's every chance that other banks will follow suit.

The FCA said it had anticipated that banks would do this, and argues that consumers will still be better off, because a simpler fee structure will increase competition and put a brake on further hikes.

However, it's not clear how banks are going to cover the recurring lost revenue from unarranged overdrafts in the longer-term, and if they can't touch overdraft fees they could decide to increase charges on other products.

In the meantime, in light of the FCA ban, we would advise consumers to familiarise themselves with their bank's overdraft fees, and then compare with the wider market.

If you are someone who is regularly going into overdraft during or at the end of the month, and your bank's overdraft fees are not the most competitive in the market, then it might be time to switch banks, to one that offers more favourable overdraft rates.

Check our our top tips for paying off your overdraft to save you money here

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Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor

Salman Haqqi spent 10 years as a journalist reporting in several countries around the world. Salman left the world of journalism and moved to the UK to pursue a passion for personal finance and a desire to help people make informed financial decisions.

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About Salman Haqqi

Salman is our personal finance editor with over 10 years’ experience as a journalist. He has previously written for Finder and regularly provides his expert view on financial and consumer spending issues for local and national press.

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