Overdraft Interest Rates Set To Rise | moneyfacts.co.uk

Derin Clark

Derin Clark

Online Reporter
Published: 03/07/2020

At the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the majority of banks put on hold their planned overdraft interest rate rises to help consumers struggling financially due to the pandemic, but now many banks are set to go ahead and increase their rates.

The banks that are due to increase their fees during July and August are Barclays, first direct, HSBC, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Starling, with Santander also due to raise fees in the future.

What are the planned interest rises?

Earlier in the year, many banks announced that they would be increasing the interest rates on their arranged overdrafts. Barclays, for example, will be increasing its rate to 35.00%, while first direct and HSBC will increase their rates to 39.0%.

A full list of the planned overdraft interest changes can be found here.

Why are banks increasing their overdraft rates?

These overdraft rate changes were initially decided before the Coronavirus pandemic began impacting the UK economy. The increases were done in response to the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) ban on fixed overdraft fees and its ruling that unarranged overdraft charges cannot be higher than those on arranged overdrafts.

What if you’ve been impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic?

In April, Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland automatically offered interest-free overdrafts for up to £500, which is due to end on 6 July 2020. In addition to this, many other banks offered interest-free overdrafts for a limited period during the height of the lockdown to help customers who were facing financial difficulties. Yesterday, the FCA confirmed further support for those in overdraft debt, including providing extra support for those who have borrowed in excess of £500 on their overdrafts.

How to pay off your overdraft

With many of the interest-free overdraft buffers put in place during the lockdown already at an end, in addition with the planned interest increases to overdrafts, borrowing through an overdraft is one of the most expensive ways for consumers to borrow money via a high street bank. As such, consumers in overdraft debt should focus on paying off their overdraft as quickly as possible. Those financially impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic should contact their bank to discuss the support available to help them reduce and clear their overdraft debt. Those in overdraft debt should also read our guide Seven steps to getting (and staying) overdraft-free.

Alternatives to overdraft borrowing

Overdrafts are designed mainly for short-term borrowing and, ideally, any money borrowed should be repaid within a few days. Consumers needing to make an emergency purchase might be better off using a credit card, ideally a 0% purchase credit card, instead of an overdraft if they cannot repay the money immediately. This is because the APR on credit cards is usually lower than overdraft charges. Those needing to borrow a higher amount should consider a personal loan, as, again, these tend to be a cheaper form of borrowing compared to overdrafts.

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