Overdrafts 'cost more than payday loans'

Overdrafts 'cost more than payday loans'

Payday loans have been lambasted from all quarters, but off the radar has been bank overdrafts.

Our pals over at Which!!! have been looking into this, and in a report, have shown that some banks are charging customers a lot more in fees than payday lenders do.

The watchdog looked at unarranged overdraft charges, and found that consumers needing as little as £100 could end up being charged 12 times or more by major high street banks, than the amount that payday loan companies are allowed to charge by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Which!!! looked at the cost of borrowing £100 for 28 days, and they saw that charges at some high street banks were as much as £90, which is considerably more than the £22.40 maximum charge on a payday loan.

Some RBS customers face costs of £90, while those at Lloyds, TSB, and HSBC are looking at £80.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been keeping an eye on overdrafts, and has said that banks should set their own monthly unauthorised overdraft charge cap.

Hands up if you trust banks to play fairly, all by themselves. Clearly, someone external will have to impose rules on banks to get this sorted, but that doesn't look like it'll be happening any time soon.

Which!!! said the FCA should review overdraft charges.

Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at the watchdog said: "People with a shortfall in their finances can face much higher charges from some of the big high street banks than they would from payday loan companies."

"The regulator has shown it's prepared to take tough action to stamp out unscrupulous practices in the payday loans market, and must now tackle punitive unarranged overdraft charges that cause significant harm to some of the most vulnerable customers."

So what do the banks have to say about this?

RBS in a statement: "We encourage all of our customers to contact us if they are going to enter unarranged overdraft regardless of the amount or the length of time."

"This is an expensive method of borrowing and there could be a number of alternative solutions such as putting an arranged overdraft in place, and the costs are considerably less."

The British Bankers' Association added: "Across the board overdraft charges have plummeted since 2008, with consumers saving up to an estimated £928 million over the past five years."

"Banks are helping customers compare account charges in a variety of ways, from making them easier to understand to providing useful online calculators and mobile apps."

"They also itemise charges on bank statements and use text alerts to communicate important account information instantly.

"If a customer thinks they might go overdrawn, they should speak to their bank to arrange an overdraft to keep costs down."

"Some products allow a level of fee free overdraft."

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