Get Ready for Changes to Your Debit Card

You can say buh-bye to those pesky overdraft fees, but you'll have to really watch your balance

Warning: getimagesize(): Filename cannot be empty in /home/blackenterprise/public_html/wp-content/themes/blackenterprise/single-standard.php on line 35

This is a wake-up call to be even more vigilant when using plastic to pay

As of July 1, new changes are coming to debit card overdraft fees. The Federal Reserve is moving forward with its order that financial institutions be banned from charging customers fees for paying overdrafts on automated teller machines (ATM) and debit card purchases unless the customer agrees. This change is a result of the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act. Customers will now be given the choice to either opt in or out of overdraft fees on ATM and debit card transactions. (See new credit card rules.)

This means that unless you opt in for overdraft coverage, if you are paying for an item and there’s not enough money on your debit card to cover the purchase, your card will simply be declined. Under the new rules, banks must give customers who choose not to opt in the same features and account terms as those who do opt in.

Keep an eye on your mail.

Banks have already begun mailing out notices to customers, letting them know about the change and explaining how to opt in or out. These notices describe your bank’s overdraft services, the fees, and your choices. “The most important piece of advice that I can give is to read your bank notices. Too many bank customers just toss these letters aside,” says  John Ulzheimer, president of consumer education for credit information Website,

Call your bank.

In the past,  I’ve been guilty of not reading all of my bank notices. But it’s important not to let this one slip past you. Read it carefully and know your options. And if you haven’t gotten a notice from your bank about the new overdraft fee regulations, now’s the time to make a call and have your banking institution mail one out to you. 

Monitor you debit card balance.

Ulzheimer notes that paying attention to this particular notice and keeping track of your debit card balance is important because excessively overdrawing on your account could result in being reported to ChexSystems, a consumer banking credit reporting agency. Banks usually check this report before deciding to accept your business. You can get one free report annually by contacting ChexSystems and making a request through their Website. They can also be reached by phone at 800-428-9623.

Sheiresa Ngo is the Consumer Affairs Editor for Black Enterprise

  • lakesja Strait

    Love this article…it’s about time the banks stop getting there hands on our hard earned money! Some of us don’t overdraft and they still charge us when the merchant’s are days even weeks late taking payments!

  • Julie Cajigas

    Our bank is being really sneaky about it. They sent out an email and a mail message asking if we still wanted “overdraft protection.” They didn’t explain (in the big print) that we might not have to pay overdrafts at all. Though, I can’t remember the last time I overdrafted.

  • Dawn

    The banks have all the nerve…They didn’t ask you if they could rob you..i.e. overdraft fees up the wahzoo. Now you have to let them know whether or not they can continue to rob you. Horrible Bank of America robbed me for two years before I caught on to what they were doing. Its a shame.

  • missy mouse

    I urge people to FULLY understand how this change will impact YOU. For some people this is a GREAT thing, for others, not so much. Sometimes you need access to funds in an emergency, so it”s worth it to pay the fees. I don’t want to be stranded because a tow truck can’t get approval from my bank, or what if my dinner bill comes to $1 more than I have in my account? I could probably get my deposit in before i get charged a fee. I know my bank offers overdraft protection, so I personally don’t have to stress about this but I can see how this would help people who don’t keep a register. Something else to realize: this new CARD act only applies to certain transactions. YOU CAN STILL OVERDRAW and be charged fees, so the best way to stop banks from getting your hard earned cash is still to keep track of your own balance. This is our money-we can’t afford to be lazy in keeping track of our finances.

    • Yes, I agree Missy Mouse. When it comes to managing our personal finances, diligence is key. The way you handle your money will impact all areas of your life.

  • Rob.

    Watch out for (BOA) Check out the initials a BOA is a snake. Bank of America!

  • Pingback: What Does Financial Reform Have To Do With Me? - BLACK ENTERPRISE()