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How To Get Your Overdraft Fees Back


I have a confession! I overdrew my main checking account….twice.

How did it happen?

It’s totally my fault and both times I had extra cash available. My problem was that I’ve had the wrong auto-draft date written on my calendar for my student loans. For some reason, I’ve been tracking them as being deducted from my account on the 15th, but the funds have been drafted on the 10th. My student loan payment is one of our largest monthly expenses (just behind our mortgage and childcare), so having the money drafted 5 days early really threw our budget out-of-whack.

The first time…

Last month when I received the “low account” warning, I immediately transferred the funds from a different bank and called to try to have them waive the late fees. I hadn’t been overdrawn in a long time (years!) and have been a valuable customer. In my past experience with asking for fees to be waived, that was basically all it took. Just call and ask. But not this time….

Personal problems?

I was talking to Bank of America, and when I called they asked if there was a reason in my life why I couldn’t pay my bills. I said there was not, I’d just made some poor planning/mistakes, and I’d already transferred over the money to cover the overdrawn amount. They put me on hold then came back and said “Sorry, but the fees were properly assessed and cannot be waived.” Hmmmm……   Ok…..

The second time…

Well, you’d think it only took one time to learn my lesson but my mom has always said I’m a little hard-headed. So here we are this month and wouldn’t you know – the SAME EXACT THING happens. The 10th of the month, Navient deducts my student loan payment, and my account is overdrawn. Face-palm (I should’ve learned my lesson!) And just like last month, I received the low account balance text alert and jumped online to transfer over some money (this time, I had money in my Bank of America savings, so the transfer was completed instantly instead of taking 2-3 business days like the first time when I was transferring from my online Capital One 360 savings accounts).

This time, the person who I spoke with asked the same basic question, “Are there any extenuating circumstances in your life or reasons for why you cannot pay these fees?” It feels like a trick question. I had just transferred money into the account, so clearly the representative can see that I DO have money to pay the fees. But I tried that route last month, so this month I took a different approach. I said, “Yes, there are extenuating life circumstances.” She said, “I don’t want to get too personal, but can you tell me what’s going on?” I didn’t quite know what to say, so I just told her the truth. “We’ve been struggling with getting our budget under control and I hadn’t planned to have my student loans drafted on the 10th. I need to call them to get the date changed to the 15th for their auto-draft.” And the bank representative persists, “So, would paying these fees interfere with your ability to make those payments?” I pause. Again unsure what to say. Finally I respond, “Well, yes. Money is finite. So if you assess all these fees I won’t have that money to pay other bills.”

Magic Words

I guess those were the magic words because the woman immediately responds, “Thank you, those fees have been waived as a one-time courtesy.”  Y’all. They charge $35 per overdraft and my student loan payment is split into 2 separate drafts plus I had 2 smaller payments go out so I was literally being charged $35 x 4 = $140 in overdraft fees! And they waived it just like that.

It made me curious if this is a new technique or something. I googled but couldn’t find anyone else with a similar story, so I wanted to blog about it. I don’t know if this is unique to Bank of America or if others are using the same method. It did NOT work just to ask for the fees to be waived and explain I’ve been a long-standing/valuable customer. It DID work to explain some life circumstances that were preventing me from being able to pay the overdraft fees. I don’t know why. It feels personal and intrusive. But it saved me $140, so for that I’m grateful. BRB – now I’m calling Navient to get my auto-draft payment changed to the 15th for next month so I don’t have a 3rd repeat in a row!


Have you had a bank ask you about your personal/life circumstances before in relation to waiving overdraft fees? What information would you divulge to your bank?

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  • Reply margann34 |

    Ouch! That is exactly why I don’t really like autodraft. I have 2 small payments that are on autodraft. I do pay my mortgage electronically but I initiate the draft. I know you probably HAVE to use it for your student loans. Use this as yet another motivator to get your budget under control and build a cushion in your checking account.

  • Reply Sue |

    We bank at a credit union and they automatically transfer the money from our savings account when you go into overdraft (like when you are a complete dolt and pay your mortgage TWICE for the same month) and they only charge a $3 “transfer fee” which I think is VERY reasonable. When we had accounts at the bigger banks, they always just overdrew the account and would NEVER reverse the charges, so I think you got lucky!!!!

  • Reply Louise |

    In Australia, banks and utility companies have “hardship programs”, and in some cases all you have to do is say you can’t pay your bills and some fees get waived and others delayed. Electricity – you can get around $500 of bills wiped if you have lost your job or had reduced income. Mortgage – you can get interest payments put on hold. It’s not well publicised, I guess because they don’t want people abusing the system. In our case the programs are partly or wholly government funded. I guess your bank has something similar.

  • Reply Walnut |

    I hate actively monitoring account balances because it’s so easy to not realize it’s already the 10th of the month when I get busy. I finally stopped maintaining all the extra accounts and now just have a main checking and saving with the same bank with instant transfers. I keep track of the jobs assigned to the savings account balances in a spreadsheet separately.

  • Reply debtor |

    FYI – i have both capital one and BOA too – enroll in zelle. You can transfer money instantly between those 2 accounts so you wouldnt have that problem again if the money was in cap 1.

    I use a phone number for one account and my email address for the other.

    • Reply Ashley |

      wow, thanks for the tip! I’ve never even heard of zelle but that would be super helpful!

  • Reply JayP |

    This works for other types of fees too! I recently had an auto payment by credit card not go through, for which I was charged a $30 fee since the payment ended up being late. I called, explained the situation and they took it off right away.

So, what do you think ?