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Overdrafts and overdraft protection FAQs

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Overdraft
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What is an overdraft?

An overdraft happens when you don’t have enough money available to cover a purchase or a payment. Another way of saying this is an overdraft happens when a transaction exceeds your available balance. When this happens, we’ll either pay it for you, overdrawing your account, or we’ll decline it or return it unpaid. We make this decision at our discretion based on several factors such as the transaction amount and your account history.

Please refer to the Deposit Agreement and Disclosures for more details.

What does available balance mean?

This is the amount of money in your account that is available to spend, withdraw or cover transactions. Your available balance is updated throughout the day based on your account’s activity. Your available balance incorporates any holds on your account, such as holds for debit card transactions we’ve authorized and deposit holds.

Keep in mind that there are a few things that are not included in your available balance such as checks you’ve written that we haven’t received yet and upcoming automatic payments. You’ll also want to account for transactions where the final amount may differ from the amount that was originally authorized, such as with restaurant charges. The original authorization will be for one amount, but if you added a tip the final amount will be different.

Please refer to the Deposit Agreement and Disclosures for more details. You may also want to review our Deposit Holds FAQs.

What happens if I don’t have enough money for my transaction?

Different transaction types incur different types of actions on our part. If you don’t have enough money for:

A one-time debit card purchase such as groceries or a cup of coffee, the transaction will be declined with no fee.

A recurring debit card payment such as a gym or subscription service, we may allow the payment to go through, overdrawing your account, and may charge a fee. If we don’t allow the payment to go through, we won’t charge a fee.

An ATM withdrawal, we may give you the opportunity to overdraw your account for that specific withdrawal if you agree to our overdraft practices and fee at the ATM. If you cancel the withdrawal, we won’t charge a fee.

Check, Bill Pay payment or a scheduled electronic payment using your routing and account number, we may allow the payment to go through, overdrawing your account, and may charge a fee. If we don’t allow the payment to go through and return it unpaid, we may charge a fee and you may be charged a fee by the payee.

Please refer to the Deposit Agreement and Disclosures and the Personal Schedule of Fees for more details.

How can I avoid overdrafts?

The best way to avoid overdrafts is to always make sure you have enough money to cover your purchases and upcoming payments. We have some great tools that can help you monitor your account balance and activity:

  • Mobile app – Check your available balance at any time, 24/7.
  • Alerts – Get your available balance daily, be notified when certain types of transactions (such as scheduled payments) impact your available balance during the day and more.
  • Insights from Erica – Get valuable insights from our virtual financial assistant such as Balance Watch, which lets you know if your account balance is trending toward $0.

Don’t forget to account for checks you’ve written that we haven’t received yet, as well as upcoming automatic payments and transactions where the final amount may change, such as when you add a tip to your restaurant bill.

You may want to consider overdraft protection – With this optional service, we’ll automatically transfer available funds from your linked account to help cover purchases or help prevent declined and returned transactions.

If you need help spending only what's in your account, a Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking® account may be right for you. There are no overdraft or non-sufficient fees with this account.

You may also want to visit Better Money Habits to learn more about saving and budgeting and explore our Spending and Budgeting Tool.

In what order do you process transactions?

We start with the balance in your account at the beginning of the business day and then subtract transactions that are processing but haven’t cleared yet, such as a late-night gas purchase and other holds. The remaining balance is available to cover the transactions we receive that day. We then post transactions to your account in the following order:

CategoryExamplesPosting order
Deposits and other credits
  • Direct deposit of your paycheck
  • Cash or check deposited at an ATM
Highest amount to lowest
Debits with a time stamp
  • Debit card purchases/payments
  • ATM withdrawals
  • Teller cash withdrawals
  • One-time transfers using Zelle, Online or Mobile Banking, over the phone, at an ATM and wire transfers
Chronological*
Checks
  • Checks you’ve written
Check number order*
Debits without a time stamp
  • Preauthorized transactions using your account and routing number
  • Bill Pay payments
Highest amount to lowest
Fees
  • Monthly maintenance fees
  • Overdraft fees
  • ATM fees
Highest amount to lowest

* If our system does not receive date and time information, or can’t detect the check number, remaining transactions are posted from highest to lowest dollar amount

Please refer to the Deposit Agreement and Disclosures for more details.

I thought I had enough money; why did you charge me an overdraft fee?

We charge overdraft fees when a transaction exceeds your available balance. Your Account Details section in Mobile and Online Banking show transactions that posted to your account on a given day. You can see how processing transactions and holds impacted your available balance and the order in which transactions were posted to your account by viewing your Account Balance History in Online Banking.

Let’s walk through an example:

  1. On May 1 you start the day with $50.
  2. You buy $20 worth of gas, so your available balance is now $30.
  3. A $40 check you wrote comes through, which would exceed your available balance by $10.
  4. If we cover the check, your account would be overdrawn by $10 and we would charge you a $35 overdraft fee.

Account Details in Mobile and Online Banking would show the $40 check and the $35 overdraft fee for May 1. The $20 gas purchase was still processing, so it didn’t post to your account on May 1. Account Balance History in Online Banking would show how the $20 gas purchase, which was still processing, lowered your available balance to $30, which was less than the $40 check, causing an overdraft and an overdraft fee.

Keep in mind that Account Balance History is only available after transactions have posted to your account. The link for Account Balance History can be found just below your available balance on the Account Details screen in Online Banking.

What if I don’t want any transactions paid into overdraft?

Our Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking® account helps you spend only what’s in your account. To help you avoid overdrawing your account, transactions will be declined and returned unpaid when you don’t have enough money in your account with no overdraft or returned item fees.

Another option is to ask us to apply the Decline All overdraft setting to your account. With this setting we’ll decline or return transactions if you don’t have enough money in your account at the time of the transaction. Keep in mind, though, that you may be charged an NSF: Returned Item Fee.

With either of these options you could be assessed fees by the payee, such as a late fee.

Overdraft Protection
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What is overdraft protection?

Overdraft protection links your eligible checking account to another Bank of America account and automatically transfers available funds from the linked account to cover transactions that exceed the available balance in your checking account. This can help you avoid declined transactions, returned checks and overdrafts.

How does overdraft protection work?

If you’re about to overdraw your account, we’ll automatically transfer available funds from your linked account. Only one transfer will be made from your linked account to the protected account, even if multiple transactions are covered. An overdraft protection transfer won’t be made unless it can cover at least one transaction.

Please refer to the Deposit Agreement and Disclosures for more details.

Which accounts can I link for overdraft protection?

Most checking accounts and certain savings accounts can be linked for overdraft protection (overdraft protection is not available for Bank of America Advantage SafeBalance Banking®). You can link your eligible checking account to a savings account, another eligible checking account, a credit card or a line of credit.

How do I set up or change overdraft protection?

You can set up or make changes to overdraft protection in Online Banking, by calling the number on your account statement or scheduling an appointment at a nearby financial center.

What does it cost to have overdraft protection?

There is no cost to set up overdraft protection. A transfer fee may be charged when an overdraft protection transfer is made, whether the transfer covers one or many transactions. Please see your Personal Schedule of Fees for more details.

Keep in mind that overdraft protection transfers from a credit card will accrue interest at the APR stated in your credit card agreement. In addition, some savings accounts have withdrawal limits and overdraft protection transfers count toward those limits.

If I have overdraft protection can I still get charged overdraft fees?

Yes, if there aren't enough available funds in your checking account or linked account to cover an item, we’ll either pay it for you, overdrawing your account, or we’ll decline it or return it unpaid and you may be charged a fee.

Can I link to more than one account for overdraft protection?

No, your eligible checking account can be protected by only one eligible linked account for overdraft protection.

With a Bank of America Advantage Savings account the more you save the more you could earn

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