How to reclaim unfair bank charges such as overdraft charges

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What to do if you think you have been overcharged unfairly by your bank

Money Advice Service

If you have incurred excessive overdraft charges or other bank fees, there’s a chance you could get a refund or come to an arrangement with your bank, especially if you’re in financial hardship. Start by talking directly to your bank. If that doesn’t work, you may be able to get be free help.

Is it worth trying to reclaim overdraft charges?

Yes, absolutely. It takes a bit of effort, but remember:

  • you’ve got nothing to lose except, perhaps, a few hours writing letters
  • it won’t cost you anything – if you’ve got a case it’ll be investigated for free, and
  • your bank won’t penalise you or treat you differently for complaining

If you think you’ve been unfairly charged it’s always worth asking.

Who can reclaim charges?

Since the rules changed back in 2009, it’s much harder than it used to be to reclaim excess bank charges, but it’s not impossible.

Anyone can write or speak to their bank and ask for a refund and, if that doesn’t work, you can always ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to investigate (for free). They can help in many situations, for instance if:

  • you’re in real financial hardship – perhaps you’re struggling to buy necessities and pay bills, or you’ve lost your job
  • the charges are unfair compared to what you did – say you went overdrawn £1 and were charged £35, or
  • you’re stuck in a spiral of charges – the charges keep putting you into the red, and the overdraft keeps earning you more charges

How to reclaim – the Money Saving Expert step-by-step guide

We think Money Saving Expert currently has the best guide on how to reclaim bank charges. All you need to know is in their step-by-step reclaiming guide

The guide helps you:

  • decide if you’re eligible and whether to complain
  • work out how much you might get
  • find out how to complain to your bank
  • write good complaint letters, with sample letters and template to make it easier, and
  • take it further with the Financial Ombudsman if your bank won’t help

What not to do

Don’t use a claims management company

They’ll charge you to manage your case and you can get the same help for free.

  • Do not use a claims management company! They will charge you to reclaim money – you can do it yourself and avoid paying them a portion of any refund.
  • Take care when using the web. Most search results about reclaiming charges are from claims management companies looking to get money out of you. And, because the rules changed in 2009, the web is riddled with wrong information about reclaiming bank charges.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.


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