Sweeping improvements to how personal current accounts operate are set to help millions of bank customers better manage their finances.
The UK 's largest banks have signed up to a series of initiatives designed to help customers keep on top of their money.
From March 2012, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS and Santander have promised that their current account holders will get alerts when account balances get close to their agreed limit.
Within a further year, the banks will have to give advance warning of charges to be paid and when they will come off the account.
'Wiggle room' will also be introduced so charges won't apply if an account slips into the red by small amounts.
In addition customers will be able to opt out of overdraft facilities altogether so that they will be unable to go into the red.
Elsewhere amongst the changes, customers will get an annual account statement setting out exactly what went in and what went out of the account.
As of September 2013, a new guaranteed switching service will see customers being able to change their account provider within seven days.
"Banks set out the charges customers pay if they don't arrange an overdraft before taking the money or where they go over an existing limit," said Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers' Association.
"Nonetheless, we know it can be hard to keep on top of what is going in and out when there are a lot of transactions going through the account.
"We support the further commitment from the major banks to ensure all their full-facility accounts will benefit from the option to receive alerts and to have safety buffers."
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