Biden administration plans to slash overdraft fees at big banks: 'I call it exploitation,' president says

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Wednesday proposed a set of new rules that might slash the fees banks cost prospects for withdrawing greater than the obtainable funds of their account.

Americans have paid an estimated $280 billion in overdraft fees since 2000, according to data from the consumer watchdog agency. Over the identical interval, main banks have steadily boosted income.

“For too lengthy, some banks have charged exorbitant overdraft fees — typically $30 or extra — that usually hit essentially the most susceptible Americans the toughest, all whereas banks pad their backside strains,” President Joe Biden stated in a press release. “Banks call it a service — I call it exploitation.”

However, banking teams and a few on Capitol Hill suppose the principles would restrict a service that many financially susceptible Americans depend on.

The proposal now faces a prolonged regulatory approval course of, a interval throughout which the general public can present suggestions. For now, the proposed modifications are set to take impact in October 2025.

Here’s what it means for you.

The proposed modifications

The transfer is a part of the Biden administration’s bigger ambition to tamp down on what it calls “junk” fees charged by everybody from retirement plans to ticket sellers, an initiative that has typically had bipartisan backing.

Overdraft fees have an effect on some 23 million households in a given 12 months, and the proposed cutbacks would save Americans about $3.5 billion yearly, the CFPB says. Much of that cash would theoretically return to the pockets of decrease revenue financial institution prospects: Consumer Reports says 8% of financial institution prospects generate practically 75% of banks’ income from such fees.

The new guidelines, which solely apply to banks with $10 billion or extra in belongings, would pressure monetary establishments to deal with overdraft protection the identical means they deal with bank cards and different loans. That means, if a shopper is in a position to overdraw the account, the financial institution should present clear disclosures in regards to the guidelines and restrict fees within the first 12 months.

The rule would additionally restrict the quantity banks may cost. Fees can both be commensurate with what it prices banks to present them, or in keeping with a benchmark payment between $3 and $14 — as an alternative of the $35 some banks cost now. The common overdraft payment is about $26, according to Bankrate.

What new guidelines imply for customers

Not everybody thinks the brand new guidelines can be a win for customers. A website funded by the Consumer Bankers Association referred to as the proposal “misguided,” arguing that many Americans residing paycheck-to-paycheck use overdraft providers to make ends meet.

Republican congressmen Patrick McHenry and Andy Barr struck an identical tone.

“The proposed rule issued right this moment by the CFPB would undermine the Bureau’s shopper safety mission,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “The Biden Administration’s makes an attempt to mandate one-size-fits-all shopper monetary services and products diminish monetary inclusion, restrict shopper alternative, stifle innovation, and finally elevate the price of banking for all customers.”

Indeed, an overdraft payment will be the lesser of two evils for customers in a pinch, says Greg McBride, chief monetary analyst at Bankrate.

“There are numerous customers that use overdrafts, primarily, as a type of credit score,” he says. “It’s cheaper to pay a $35 overdraft payment than it is to get the electrical energy shut off, after which have to pay $100 to get it restarted, or to pay $150 late payment in your mortgage.”

If such a service have been to go away altogether, some Americans wanting to entry emergency money by way of overdraft may discover themselves in monetary issue.

But most Americans do not overdraw their accounts on function. Just 22% of households anticipated their most up-to-date overdraft, according to a CFPB survey. And lots of the customers charged had entry to a less expensive various, akin to obtainable credit score on a bank card, the company says.

“The CFPB is wanting at making it so that customers that both do make a mistake or let their guard down do not get hit too onerous by the overdraft fees,” says Ken Tumin, a senior trade analyst at LendingTree and founding father of

Lower fees ought to assist customers keep away from a state of affairs the place an overdraft may saddle them with excessive fees that compound into extra overdrafts, he says. “And then principally the patron is getting right into a cycle that they can not get out of.”

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