How To Get Overdraft Fees Refunded (It’s Possible, but Switching Banks Might Be Better)

You may be able to get overdraft fees refunded with a single phone call, but avoiding them is even better.

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Updated July 16, 2024
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Overdraft fees can be expensive and annoying. They are charged by some banks when your account balance goes negative.

For example, let's say you have your electric bill set up to be paid automatically from your checking account each month. This month it's surprisingly high at $125, but you only have $100 in your checking account. This would be considered an overdraft and depending on your bank, might trigger an overdraft fee. On average, these fees are $35 per transaction and can really add up and hit you hard when you're already in a difficult place financially.

Luckily, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has taken notice and recently proposed a new rule that would limit the number of overdraft fees per month and lower their cost to as little as $3 in many cases. If it passes through Congress and is signed into law, these changes would go into effect in late 2025.

However, given the current law, once an overdraft fee has been assessed, the only recourse is to pay it or call and ask for it to be refunded.

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How to get overdraft fees refunded: 4 simple steps

Here are four steps to follow to help you get an overdraft fee refunded:

1. Get your facts straight

Before you can make a plea for mercy to your bank, you’ll want to make sure your figures match theirs. Calculate how many overdraft fees you were charged and the exact figure you’re asking to be refunded. It also helps to know the dates when the fees were assessed and which charges led to the fees.

Having all of this information on hand can make it easier to communicate quickly with a customer service representative from your bank. To find your bank account transactions and fees, check your bank statements, either in your online account or through mailed statements.

2. Develop a case

Now that you have your figures in hand, develop a case for why your overdraft fees should be refunded. If you’re a long-time customer who doesn’t have a history of overdrafts, use this to your advantage when talking to a bank representative. You should also point out if you have other accounts with the bank, such as a savings or mortgage. They may be more willing to refund your overdraft fee if they have a strong incentive to retain you as a customer.

Prepare to negotiate. If you were charged four overdraft fees and the bank won’t refund them all, ask if they will at least refund half of them. Getting some of your money back is better than none at all.

3. Contact your bank

Once you’re ready, it’s time to contact your bank. Phone calls are typically the best way to request a refund of overdraft fees, but it might be possible to send a secure message as well. Speaking over the phone gives you the chance to connect with a representative more personally and make your case.

The best number to use is your bank’s general customer service line, which you can find on the bank’s website or your bank statement.

4. Be persistent

The representative you speak with may immediately agree to your request and initiate a refund of your overdraft fees. But you could meet some resistance. If so — don’t give up! If the agent you’re speaking with won’t budge, consider talking to a supervisor or calling in again and speaking to someone else.

Remember to cite your good relationship (if applicable) with the bank and be respectful. If you got charged an overdraft fee for the first time, you could also mention this.

How much do overdraft fees cost?

The Center for Responsible Learning reports that the typical overdraft fee is $35, which is often much higher than what a bank actually has to pay for an overdraft transaction. This might not seem like a high amount for some people, but depending on your situation, it can be incredibly annoying or even financially disastrous.

Overdraft fee examples

Here are a few popular financial institutions and their overdraft fees. In good news for consumers, there has been a trend in recent years for these banks to reduce or eliminate overdraft fees. For example, Bank of America reduced its overdraft fees to $10 from $35 in 2022, and Citi eliminated overdraft fees in early 2024.

Bank Overdraft fees
Bank of America $10 per item for transactions over $1 (max 2 fees per day)

Note: This fee was reduced from $35 in 2022.
Chase $34 per item if your account is overdrawn by more than $50 at the end of business day. (max 3 fees per day)
Citi $0

Note: This fee was reduced from $34 in early 2024.
U.S. Bank $36 per item for transactions over $5 and only if your account is overdrawn by more than $50 at the end of the business day. (max 3 fees per day)
Wells Fargo $35 per item for transactions over $5. (max 3 fees per day)

Checking accounts with no overdraft fees

Some banking accounts make it super easy to avoid overdraft fees because they don’t have any. In addition to Citi, which is mentioned above, here are a few more checking accounts that don't charge overdraft fees.

Discover Learn more
Axos Learn more
Betterment Checking Learn more
Wealthfront Cash Account Learn more
Chime Learn more
Capital One 360 Learn more

See more checking accounts with no overdraft fees.

5 tips for avoiding overdraft fees in the future

Asking for a refund after the fact is a short-term solution. A good long-term strategy involves learning how to prevent them from happening in the first place. If you want to help avoid future overdraft fees, consider these tips:

1. Track your balance

If you know how much money you have in your bank account, you’re less likely to use more than what’s available and end up with an overdraft fee. These days, it’s easy to track your available balance and financial health with online accounts, mobile banking, or by simply calling your bank.

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2. Turn off overdraft protection

If you don’t want to deal with overdraft fees, opt out of your bank’s overdraft protection service. Lenders typically have this protection in place to make sure you can cover your purchases even if you don’t currently have enough money in your bank account. But of course, it often comes with fees.

Fortunately, federal regulations are in place that allow you to opt out of overdraft protection if you want to. If you opt-out, your ATM withdrawals and debit card purchases will be declined if you have insufficient funds instead of causing an overdraft or forcing you to have a negative balance.

3. Set up alerts

With online banking and mobile apps, you often have notification and alert settings you can customize for a more personalized banking experience. In most cases, you’re able to set alerts for when your bank account balance crosses a certain threshold. Low balance alerts could help you avoid spending more than what’s available in your account and steer clear of overdraft fees.

Some banks allow you to link backup accounts to your checking account to decrease the risk of an overdraft. This could include another checking account, savings account, credit card, or line of credit.

5. Switch banks

If you don’t want to deal with overdraft fees, consider switching to a bank that doesn't charge overdraft fees.

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Can I get an overdraft fee refunded?

Yes, it’s possible to get your bank to refund overdraft fees. It’s often as simple as contacting your bank and asking them to refund the fees, though it likely helps to have a good relationship with the bank, such as making your payments on time and rarely having overdraft fees.

Can I get an NSF fee refunded?

While bank policies vary, you might be able to get a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee refunded through an NSF reversal. To get an NSF fee refunded, contact your bank, explain what happened, and ask for a refund. Some banks may be willing to work with you, especially if it’s the first time you’ve incurred the fee or if you have multiple accounts with your bank.

What fees can you negotiate with your bank?

Most bank charges, including overdraft fees, insufficient funds fees, and late fees, are negotiable. Banks are businesses, but the customer is part of the business, so it’s not uncommon for bank representatives to waive or refund fees to keep customers happy. This doesn’t mean you’ll always be able to negotiate bank fees in your favor, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

Can an overdrawn bank account hurt your credit score?

An overdraft itself won’t affect your credit score since checking accounts don’t appear on your credit report. But if you don’t pay the fee and it’s sent to collections, your score could be negatively impacted.

Bottom line

Overdraft fees can be annoying and downright frustrating — but there are ways to avoid them or have them refunded if they’ve already been charged. Unfortunately, overdraft charges are common among accounts from many traditional banks, so it’s important to take the proper precautions and steps to ensure you don’t have to worry about getting charged.

But if you don’t want to deal with overdraft fees at all, consider doing business with one of the best banks that don’t include these fees with their accounts. This is likely the best way to avoid overdraft fees since there’s no chance for them to happen in the first place.

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Author Details

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®

Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post,, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.

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Lara Vukelich