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How many times have you used your debit card in the past month?
For the average American, that figure is 23.
Quicker than cash and easy to use, you can flash a debit card and grab that meal, a new pair of shoes, or go on a shopping spree with ease.
But debit cards – and the overdraft fees they incur – can quickly cause financial problems. For a start, studies show that people spend up to 18% more when they use debit cards rather than cash. This can quickly create problems if you don’t keep track of your expenditures.
You’ll also need to be aware of debit card transaction overdraft fees. If you don’t have enough money in your checking account, a $1.50 soda could end up costing you $36.50 – or more!
If you’re in an extreme “need cash now” situation, there are many options ranging from applying for a personal loan to talking to a debt relief company to see how to get out from under oppressive debt.
But if you’re asking yourself how to overdraft a debit card on purpose, this is the right article for you.
Read on to find out how to overdraft a debit card, manage your money, and access no-fee alternatives to help you spend money on the things that matter without worrying about looming overdraft fees.
What we’ll cover:
- Can you overdraft a debit card?
- Can you withdraw from a negative account?
- Can you overdraw a Venmo card?
- Two must-have tools to avoid debit card overdraft fees
- Why do people overdraft their debit cards?
- Allowing overdrafts vs. Declining overdrafts
- Final thoughts and what to do next…
Can you overdraft a debit card?
But you’ll need to opt-in to a debit card overdraft service.
This means that you can use your card and purchase an item while you don’t have enough funds in your checking account. Once opting in for overdraft protection, your bank – at its discretion – will pay the transaction and you’ll go home with the item you purchased.
Overdrafting with a debit card is basically set up the same way as overdrafting with an ATM card.
Your limits are determined by your bank and the fees they charge are usually a set amount. When you overdraft with your debit card your bank will also expect you to return your account to a positive balance as soon as possible. Failure to do this could result in penalties or additional fees.
You’ll also be charged an overdraft fee – usually $35.
Using your debit card and copping the overdraft fee means a $50 meal is actually an $85 meal. That $100 pair of shoes is actually $135. You get the idea.
Can you withdraw from a negative account?
Yes, you can!
As mentioned, once you’ve opted in for overdraft protection with your bank, you will be able to withdraw from a negative account and save yourself the embarrassment of having your debit card declined at the store.
Withdrawing from a negative account can be especially useful when you really NEED to purchase things before just your next paycheck comes in – whether it’s groceries, gas, or other necessities.
If you find yourself in a situation where you actively want to overdraft outside of emergencies, you should consider using other protection services.
For example, the Pockbox app lets you borrow up to $2,500 in minutes. Make sure to know what your annual percentage rate (APR) will be, but using apps like PockBox could help you save hundreds of dollars on overdraft fees in three to four months.
Can you overdraw a Venmo card?
If you’re a fan of using a physical card and you have a Venmo account, you may already be using a physical Venmo debit card.
This card is linked directly to your Venmo account and works like any other debit card. If you’re out for lunch, at the shops, or short of cash at the pump, you can use your Venmo balance to make the payment or transfer money from a linked account to cover the shortfall.
You’re only spending what’s in your Venmo account. So you cannot be charged an overdraft fee when trying to overdraw a Venmo card.
You cannot overdraft your Venmo card. If you don’t have the funds in your Venmo account, your transaction will simply be declined.
But there’s a catch!
If you link your Venmo debit card to another account, you’ll be able to transfer funds when your Venmo account balance is zero. It is possible to overdraw your linked bank account to top up your Venmo account.
You can turn off the reload feature at any time. But this will stop you from making purchases when your Venmo account balance is insufficient.
Two must-have tools to avoid debit card overdraft fees
Most articles online will recommend that the easiest way to avoid debit card overdraft fees is to keep your account balance in the black at all times.
But let’s be honest – life gets in the way of the best-laid plans.
Whether you need quick cash to cover an emergency plumbing bill or want to invest in new home office furniture to get your business off the ground, there are plenty of reasons to need extra funds.
The idea of a $35 fee on each overdrawn debit card transaction mightn’t fill you with joy (and why would it?). Here are a few tools to avoid overdraft fees.
#1 – PockBox.com
PockBox is the perfect app to get cash advances of up to $2,500 in minutes.
The process is sleek and straightforward so all you’ll need to do is share a little information about yourself. The PockBox app will connect you to the best lender possible and approve you in a matter of minutes.
While short-term loans can be costly and should be used carefully, they can help you get the cash you need quickly and avoid outrageously expensive overdraft fees. Not to mention, you can avoid the high costs and potential damage to your credit score if you miss or bounce important bill payments.
#2 – SpotMe® from Chime
Chime is a popular financial app that helps you manage and access your money. One of Chime’s most popular features is SpotMe. This feature lets you overdraft your debit card for purchases or ATM withdrawals with no overdraft fees. Overdraft limits start at $20 and can be increased up to $200.*
Enroll in SpotMe at no charge, and then set up your account to receive a qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more a month. Chime will then cover up to $200 in overdrafts on your account – you can overdraft your debit card on purpose without paying overdraft fees!
Here’s an example of how SpotMe can help you avoid costly fees when you need a little extra cash:
You go out for a $65 meal with friends, but realize that you only have $50 left in your bank account. If you pay with your debit card from a traditional bank, overdraft fees will push the cost of that meal to $100! But if you’ve set up SpotMe (and have your paycheck regularly deposited into your account) and pay with your Chime debit card, the transaction will go straight through with no overdraft fees! The next time you make a deposit to your Chime account, the $15 negative balance will be instantly cleared.
Through the Chime app, you can view how much cash you can access via SpotMe at any time, so you know what you can spend on your debit card without any overdraft fees. Plus, you’ll avoid those embarrassing moments when your transactions are declined.
You can access $20 in overdrafts right away (which can help you avoid those frustrating fees banks charge you for being overdrawn by just a few dollars) and you can grow your limit over time.
Signing up for SpotMe is incredibly quick and easy (less than 2 minutes!!!).
Why do people overdraft their debit cards?
A primary cause of debit card overdrafts comes from being busy living life and not realizing your bank is stinging you with fees. In fact, 70% of consumers didn’t even know they could opt-out and have their debit card transactions declined at no cost!
Without this knowledge, a purchase as small as a $5 taco or weekly coffee can trigger a debit card overdraft if you’re not on top of your account balance and using alternate apps to manage your money and provide fast cash to help you avoid running low.
If you recognize yourself in any of the following debit card overdraft situations, read on to learn how to access the funds you need without giving to the $30 billion generated in bank overdrafts each year.
Mistake One: You’re Not Tracking Purchases
The old-fashioned paper checks did have one advantage when it came to budgeting – they left a paper trail.
You could track your purchases by counting check stubs, even if you didn’t take the time to fill them out. Carbon copy checks actually help you to tally up your exact expenditures. But, with a debit card, all you have to prove you’re spending money is a receipt – which is easily lost.
Some people use a checkbook register to enter every debit card purchase and calculate their balance after every use. In truth, some form of accounting similar to this is about the only way to ensure that you don’t spend more than you have in the bank.
Expense tracking apps may help you monitor your spending with options like Mint, Good Budget, and You Need A Budget (YNAB). Put simply, if you’re not staying on top of your account balance and spending, it’s tough to know when an overdraft is headed your way.
Mistake Two: You’re Not Monitoring Early Debits
Scheduled payments can feel easy to manage – until they’re not so scheduled.
Gym memberships, insurance payments, even medical bills can be scheduled for automatic payment from your bank account. You usually get to choose the date for the withdrawal. However, each of these payments can be claimed up to 4 days early!
If you were counting on your mid-month paycheck, and a holiday is coming up, you can expect those draft payments to go through BEFORE your paycheck comes in. This can overdraw your account.
Mistake Three: You’re Not Considering Pending Authorizations
Say you have $50 in the bank and need to get $5 of gas. If you use your debit card, one of two things will happen:
Option One: Your card will be denied and you won’t know why
Option Two: You will be charged a $35 overdraft fee, even though you didn’t overdraft your account.
Why does that happen?
Because of pending authorization. When you put your debit card into a gas pump, it automatically debits your account between $60 and $70. That’s about what it would cost to fuel even the biggest gas tank that is street legal.
If you pump your $5 worth of gas, the vendor authorizes the smaller purchase, crediting your account with the balance. But… you have already overdrawn your account with the $60 debit.
You’re hit with a $35 overdraft charge. You might as well have put $40 in your tank because that’s what it’s going to cost you. And forget about lunch, because you just spent that money on overdraft fees.
Hotels do the same thing too, so watch out for pending authorizations.
Mistake Four: You’re Acting Off Outdated Information
It would be great if your bank’s information was always up to date… but it isn’t.
You may think that your debit card use is immediately recorded in your account (it sure seems to be at the gas pump!). But the sad truth is that many purchases don’t show up for up to 24 hours.
If you track all of your own spendings, this may not be a problem. But if you are counting on the bank’s accounting, this can put you in a world of hurt. You could be spending money you *think* you have. But it’s money that has already been spent and is waiting to be updated online or on your banking app.
Allow Overdrafts VS. Declining Overdrafts
Your bank will give you the option to allow overdrafts on debit card transactions. There are benefits and penalties for opting into overdraft protection.
|Allowing Overdrafts||Declining Overdrafts|
|You pay a $35 overdraft fee per transaction||You pay returned check fees|
|Your checking account can go into the red||Your debit card is declined at the register|
|You don’t pay a returned check fee||Your checks may be refused by retailers|
|You avoid late fees on bills||You may pay late fees on bills|
Final thoughts and what to do next…
It is possible to overdraw a debit card as long as you’ve opted into overdraft protection.
While this means you can use your card on the go, at the pump, or at the restaurant, you should always consider the cost of overdraft fees. More than a one-off $35 charge, the ongoing cost of overdraft fees can cause serious financial problems over time.
As with any financial topic, knowledge is power. You can:
- Sign up for overdraft coverage and continue to overdraw your debit card
- Use apps like Dave or apps like Earnin for a cash boost
- Take advantage of overdrafts from neobank apps like Current, Go2Bank, and Chime SpotMe
Whatever your choice, just remember there are a number of resources that can put cash in your pocket.*Chime SpotMe eligibility requirements and overdraft limits: Chime SpotMe is an optional, no fee service that requires a single deposit of $200 or more in qualifying direct deposits to the Chime Spending Account each month. All qualifying members will be allowed to overdraw their account up to $20 on debit card purchases and cash withdrawals initially, but may be later eligible for a higher limit of up to $200 or more based on member’s Chime Account history, direct deposit frequency and amount, spending activity and other risk-based factors. Your limit will be displayed to you within the Chime mobile app. You will receive notice of any changes to your limit. Your limit may change at any time, at Chime’s discretion. Although there are no overdraft fees, there may be out-of-network or third party fees associated with ATM transactions. SpotMe won’t cover non-debit card transactions, including ACH transfers, Pay Friends transfers, or Chime Checkbook transactions. See Terms and Conditions.
Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank or Stride Bank, N.A.; Members FDIC.
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