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High street bank charge overdraft users £640 more than challengers

Traditional banks charging up to 50 times more in fees

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Twelve million current account holders at the biggest high street banks could be paying more than £640 million too much on their overdrafts, according to new uSwitch research.

Overdraft users find themselves on average £285 in the red each month and use the credit facility for nine days. A further fifth (18%) of borrowers say that they are stuck in their overdraft for nearly three weeks every month – racking up more than £110 in fees and interest each year.

12 million rely on their overdraft for everyday spending

Brits most commonly use their overdraft to cover everyday expenses, with three in ten (29%) relying on it to put food on the table and a further quarter (23%) using the credit to pay their household bills. Just one in seven (15%) use it for emergency expenses.

Despite millions of consumers using their overdraft every month, one in five (21%) don’t know what it costs them. Nearly six in ten (59%) don’t realise that they could switch current account provider while being overdrawn, potentially reducing how much they paid to service their debt.

Tashema Jackson, money expert at uSwitch.com, says: “Overdrafts are an absolutely essential part of consumers’ everyday finances, but the associated charges seem to be accepted as a necessary cost, when they do not need to be at all.

Big banks charge big fees

With some traditional banks charging over 50 times more than the cheapest in fees and interest on the typical overdraft, consumers are missing out by not switching to cheaper providers.

The average high street bank customer racks up £56.52 in overdraft fees and interest rates every year. By comparison, customers of the cheapest provider – First Direct, which charges no interest on overdrafts of up to £250 and no fees – pay as little as £1.56 a year on the average overdraft.

Tashema Jackson said: “Banks that offer incentives on positive balances often make the headlines, but for the 12 million of us who rely on our overdraft to make ends meet every month, getting the cheapest deal on borrowing is what will really save you the most money.

“If you know you are going to be a few hundred pounds overdrawn each month, it really pays to do your research. Some banks offer interest free overdrafts, while others charge no fees for using one. Even when you have to pay, some will cost you significantly less than others.

“Crucially, banks could and should be doing more to help their customers ensure they are getting the best deal possible. Far too many aren’t aware what their overdrafts are actually costing them or that they can to a cheaper provider while overdrawn.”

Are you happy with your bank?

Could you get a better rate of interest, a cheaper overdraft or useful freebies? Compare bank accounts and see if you can find one that works for you

Compare bank accounts

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