My ridiculous overdraft charges

Simon, 22, explains how he found himself owing £600 in bank charges after going £1 overdrawn.

True Stories

boy at cashpoint

"I ignored it for two years."

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It all started with a trip to the pub. I had £9 in my bank account and withdrew £10 to buy drinks which left me £1 overdrawn. Because I hadn’t arranged an overdraft with the bank they charged me £28, but instead of sorting it out straight away, I ignored it.

The bank sent me a letter saying that I was £29 overdrawn and I threw it away. I didn’t have the money to pay it back because I wasn’t working, and I didn’t have any savings. I just left it and thought I’d pay it off later, but every month the bank charged £28 and took me further into red.

Ignoring the bank

Over the following two years I was well-informed about my growing debt. The bank sent statements every month as well as letters asking to repay the money. I just used to hide them because I thought if I didn’t see them it wouldn’t be true. I didn’t tell anyone about the debt I was in because I felt so guilty about not paying it back – but it was always on my mind. People describe this feeling of having ‘a weight on your shoulders’, but for me it was getting heavier.

Looking back, I should’ve paid the debt off when it was small and manageable, but I left it for two years. Then something clicked: I received a letter saying I was £580 overdrawn and I finally decided to speak to someone at the bank. I had a job so was able to pay the money back. I ended up paying it all back in one go, which was a huge relief. I could stop worrying and carry on with my life without thinking about how I was going to pay the bank back.

Claiming the money back

A couple of months after I’d cleared the debt a friend said I should try to claim the money back from bank. I went to see a solicitor who deals with unfair bank charges and he took on my case. I was lucky enough to get all the money back very quickly, so spent it on a holiday with my friends.

I’ve learnt a big lesson from the whole experience and I won’t make the same mistake again. Since then I’ve been more careful with my money and I’ll never go under ever again. If I do I’ll make sure I pay it back straight away.

Photo of guy at cashpoint by Shutterstock

Changes to overdraft charges 

From April 2020, banks can only charge for overdraft users a simple annual interest rate – without additional fees and charges. 

All users of unarranged overdrafts will be better off or see no change. In most scenarios, a majority of consumers using an arranged overdraft will also see an improved outcome or no difference.  

Next Steps

  • StepChange offers free advice on your debt problems, basing it round what's right for you. 0800 138 1111
  • The Money Advice Service offers free, unbiased and independent advice about all financial matters. 0800 138 7777
  • National Debtline offers you free, confidential and independent advice on debt issues. Visit the website or call on 0808 808 4000.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.




Updated on 27-May-2020