How Much Can I Overdraft My Checking Account? Answered

If you’re wondering, “How much can I overdraft?” we have your answer. How much you can overdraft your checking account will vary by bank or credit union and your account history. We have compiled the list of bank and credit union overdraft policies and fees for your convenience.

Nearly everyone has overdrafted their bank account at one time or another and it’s not a fun experience. Overdrafting your account means a check or transaction cost exceeds the amount of available funds in your checking account. To learn more about what this means, how much overdrafting your account will cost you, and how to avoid this problem, read on.

What Is an Overdraft?

An overdraft — which is also referred to as a non-sufficient funds (NSF) transaction — occurs when you write a check, make a debit card purchase, or withdraw money from an ATM and don’t have enough money in your checking account to cover the transaction. This results in your account showing a negative balance.

Can you overdraft a savings account? It’s important to note that overdrafts can only occur with checking accounts and not with savings accounts. If you attempt a transaction that would overdraw your savings account, the transaction will simply be denied by the bank.

What Happens When You Overdraft?

When you make a transaction with insufficient funds, you’ll be charged an overdraft fee. For multiple overdrafts, separate fees are charged for each item that goes over your available balance. Bank overdraft fees vary but generally range from $25 to $40 per item.

The bank or credit union will generally allow overdraft transactions and cover the amount of insufficient funds for the transaction. However, you’ll be required to pay back this overdraft amount plus any fees by depositing funds into your account. If you’re a customer in good standing with very few overdrafts, your bank may waive the overdraft fee. However, if your account is frequently overdrafted, you’ll definitely be responsible for the fees.

How Much Can You Overdraft?

So how much can you overdraft? How many overdrafts can you have? Most banks cover the transaction when you overdraft. How much they’ll cover will depend on whether you’ve overdrafted your account before and whether you have an overdraft protection plan linked to your account. See the next section on how to avoid overdrafts for more information on how different protection plans work.

How Soon Can You Use Your Overdraft?

If you don’t have a history of overdrafting your account, the bank will immediately allow your purchase and you will later be responsible for repaying the balance, plus any applicable fees. In this case, you will be able to bring home your purchase(s) made by check or debit card.

If the bank refuses to cover a transaction because you’ve had a lot of overdrafts or already have a negative account balance, then your check will be returned and your debit card purchase will be declined. Banks don’t generally give a specific number or frequency of overdrafts at which they’ll stop covering transactions; this is usually determined on a case-by-case basis.

Can You Cash a Check If Your Account Is Overdrawn?

“Can I cash a check if my account is overdrawn?” Most businesses use a check authentication system to assess the riskiness of your check. If they scan your check and the system show a history of overdrafts or checks returned for non-sufficient funds, the business probably won’t take your check.

If a business does cash a check when your account is already overdrawn or if the check itself will overdraw your account, then the check will be returned. That means you’ll end up owing money for the value of the check to the business that cashed it, plus, your bank might charge you an overdraft fee and the business where you cashed or paid with the check might charge you a returned check fee. All this adds up, so it’s best to avoid check writing if it might overdraw your account.

Do Overdrafts Affect Credit?

Overdrafting your checking account won’t usually have an effect on your credit score. Overdrafts will only get reported to a credit score agency if the bank takes you to collections to recover the money you owe. This might happen if you leave your account overdrawn for a significant period of time — usually a few months — or if you rack up a lot of overdraft fees and don’t pay them. To make sure overdrafts don’t end up on your credit report, pay your fees and get your checking account back in the green quickly.

What Banks Let You Overdraft?

Almost all banks let you overdraft, but it’s best to check your own bank or credit union’s policy and if there is an opt-in or opt-out program for how to handle overdrafts. That means whether they allow it (within specific limits), or deny any attempt you make to overdraft your account. In some cases, you can connect your savings account to act as a back up, but some will still charge fees for the transfer.

How Can You Avoid Overdrafts?

The best way to avoid overdrafting your checking account is to never spend more money than you have available. However, even keeping careful track of your account balance doesn’t always work. For example, a check you deposited might not clear as soon as you expected or purchases made with checks or debit cards may not be reflected in your balance right away.

Fortunately, most banks and credit unions offer some type of overdraft protection program, which may include:

  • The option to not allow overdrafts, in which case your transaction will be declined if you don’t have enough funds in your account.
  • Linking another account, such as a savings account or credit card, to your primary account and allowing automatic transfers to cover insufficient funds.
  • An overdraft line of credit, which automatically covers insufficient funds up to a certain amount without charging additional fees. Overdraft lines of credit are similar to credit cards in that you’ll be charged interest, typically at a low rate, and any amount charged to the credit line must be paid back.

Bank and Credit Union Overdraft Policies and Fees

1. Bank of America

  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs: Overdraft Protection allows you to link a second Bank of America account to your checking account to cover insufficient funds. Transfer fees may apply, depending on your account type.
  • Source: Bank of America FAQs: Overdraft Services
  • Find your nearest Bank of America

2. Bank of the West

  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item. If your account balance remains more than $15 negative, an extended overdraft fee of $30 is charged on the sixth day of the negative balance.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • Savings Overdraft Protection: Automatically transfers funds in $50 increments from an eligible savings or money market account to cover insufficient funds. Transfer fees are applied to each transaction.
    • Gold Line Account: Overdraft line of credit that automatically transfers funds in $50 increments to cover insufficient funds. Loan transfer fees are applied to each transaction.
  • Source: Bank of the West Overdraft Program Options
  • Find your nearest Bank of the West

3. BB&T Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $36 per item. Overdraft fees are waived if your account balance is overdrawn by less than $5 at the close of the business day.
  • Overdraft limits: Vary according to account type and account history
  • Available protection programs:
    • Overdraft review: An opt-in program that automatically declines transactions that would overdraft your account
    • Overdraft protection: Link an eligible savings account or line of credit to your checking account to cover insufficient funds with automatic transfers. Fees of $9 per transfer are applied (but are waived for transfers less than $5)
  • Source: BB&T Pricing and Fees At A Glance
  • Find your nearest BB&T Bank

4. BMO Harris Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item; fees waived if the account is overdrawn by less than $5 at the close of business day
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • Overdraft funding: Link an eligible deposit account to your checking account to automatically transfer insufficient funds. Transfer fees are applied to each transaction.
    • Overdraft protection line of credit (interest rates apply)
  • Source: BMO Harris overdraft services for personal checking accounts
  • Find your nearest BMO Harris

5. Chartway Federal Credit Union

  • Overdraft fees: $30 per item. Fees will be waived if your account is overdrafted by less than $10.
  • Overdraft limits: None
  • Available protection programs:
    • Overdraft link to savings or another eligible Chartway account to cover insufficient funds ($6 fee per transfer)
    • Overdraft line of credit (interest rates apply)
  • Source: Chartway Overdraft Coverage Options
  • Find your nearest Chartway

6. Chase Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $34 per item. Fees are waived if your account is overdrafted by less than $5.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of three items per day
  • Available protection programs: Overdraft Protection allows you to link to your Chase savings account to automatically cover insufficient funds. Transfer fees are applied for each transaction.
  • Source: Chase Overdraft and Overdraft Fee Information
  • Find your nearest Chase Bank

7. Citibank

  • Overdraft fees: $34 per item
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • Safety Check: Transfer funds from savings account to checking account to cover insufficient funds ($10 fee per transfer)
    • Checking Plus: Variable line of credit to cover insufficient funds ($10 fee per transfer)
  • Source: Citibank overdraft services
  • Find your nearest Citibank

8. Connexus Credit Union

  • Overdraft fees: $29.95 per item
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum overdraft amount of $300, not including fees
  • Available protection programs:
    • Standard accounts automatically transfer funds from savings to checking to cover insufficient balance ($8.95 transfer fee applies)
    • Overdraft Protection Line of Credit
  • Source: Connexus Credit Union Fee Schedule
  • Find your nearest Connexus Credit Union

9. Fifth Third Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $37 per item. Fees are waived if the account is overdrafted by less than $5.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of five items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • Standard accounts do not allow overdrafts; transactions are declined when there are insufficient funds. Fifth Third customers can opt-in to overdraft coverage to enable overdrafts, which are charged the standard fee of $37 per item.
    • Overdraft protection: Link a Fifth Third savings account to your checking account to automatically cover insufficient funds. A per-transfer fee of $12 is applied.
  • Source: Fifth Third Bank Overdraft Solutions
  • Find your nearest Fifth Third Bank

10. First National Bank

11. HSBC

  • Overdraft fees: Overdraft transactions are not processed unless you’re enrolled in the Select Credit overdraft protection program. For non-Select Credit customers, all transactions with insufficient funds are declined.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of $10 per day for Select Credit customers
  • Available protection programs: Select Credit is a revolving line of credit for overdraft protection
  • Source: HSBC Checking Accounts page
  • Find your nearest HSBC

12. KeyBank

  • Overdraft fees: $39 per item
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • Overdraft service: KeyBank customers can choose to opt out of overdraft and instead have transactions declined when there are insufficient funds
    • Link your checking account to a qualifying KeyBank account to cover insufficient funds, including savings, credit card, line of credit, and home equity line of credit accounts
  • Source: KeyBank Overdraft Protection Options
  • Find your nearest KeyBank

13. M&T Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $38.50 per item. Fees waived if the account is overdrawn by less than $5.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of five items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • Link to your M&T savings account or Visa credit card to automatically transfer the difference when you have insufficient funds. Transfer fees of $12.50 apply; limit of no more than one transfer fee per day
    • Overdraft line of credit. $12.50 transfer fee plus standard interest rates apply.
  • Source: M&T Bank Overdraft Protection Plans
  • Find your nearest M&T Bank

14. Navy Federal Credit Union

  • Overdraft fees: $20 per item. Fees waived on transactions less than $5, or if the total amount overdrawn at the end of the business day is less than $15.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of three items per day, not to exceed $500 in overdrafts, including fees
  • Available protection programs:
    • Savings transfer: Transfer funds from savings to checking to cover insufficient balance at no additional charge; limited to six uses per month
    • Checking line of credit (interest rates apply)
  • Source: Navy Federal Credit Union Checking Protection Options
  • Find your nearest Navy Federal Credit Union

15. PenFed Credit Union

16. PNC Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $36 per item, with additional fees of $7 per day (for up to 5 days) each day your account remains negative
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • You can choose to opt out of overdraft coverage and instead have insufficient fund transactions declined
    • Link a qualifying account (savings, money market, credit card, or personal line of credit) to your checking account for automatic transfers to cover insufficient funds
  • Source: PNC Bank Overdraft Solutions
  • Find your nearest PNC Bank

17. Regions Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $36 per item
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of six items per day
  • Available protection programs: Overdraft Protection transfers funds from a linked qualifying account (savings, money market, credit card, or line of credit) to cover insufficient funds. A daily transfer fee of $15 is charged.
  • Source: Regions Bank Overdraft Protection
  • Find your nearest Regions Bank

18. SunTrust Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $36 per item. Fees waived on items less than $5.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of six items per day
  • Available protection programs: Overdraft Protection transfers funds from a linked qualifying account (savings, money market, credit card, or line of credit) to cover insufficient funds. A daily fee of $12.50 is applied. This fee is waived if you deposit funds in your checking account to cover the overdraft by the end of the business day.
  • Source: SunTrust Overdraft Services
  • Find your nearest SunTrust Bank

19. TD Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item. Fees waived if the account is overdrawn by $5 or less.
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of five items per day
  • Available protection programs: Savings Overdraft Protection links your savings or money market account to your checking account to cover insufficient funds. Daily transfer fee of $10 applies.
  • Source: TD Bank Overdraft Services Comparison Chart
  • Find your nearest TD Bank

20. U.S. Bank

  • Overdraft fees: $36 per item
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs: Overdraft Protection links a backup account (savings, money market, credit card, line of credit) to your checking account to cover insufficient fund transactions. Daily transfer fees apply: $12.50 for standard accounts; $7.50 for Gold Checking accounts, and free for Platinum Checking accounts.
  • Source: US Bank Overdraft Protection
  • Find your nearest US Bank

21. Wells Fargo

  • Overdraft fees: $35 per item
  • Overdraft limits: Maximum of four items per day
  • Available protection programs:
    • Wells Fargo customers can opt out of overdraft coverage for debit cards, so transactions are declined rather than processed and charged overdraft fees
    • Overdraft protection: Link up to two qualifying accounts (savings, money market, credit card, line of credit) to your checking account as backup funding sources. Daily transfer fees vary according to backup account type.
  • Source: Wells Fargo Overdraft Services
  • Find your nearest Wells Fargo

In Summary

Whether you were wondering, “How much can I overdraft?” or “Can you overdraft a savings account? or “Does overdraft affect credit?” or simply, “What happens if you overdraw your checking account?” Answers were found within the article.

How much you can overdraw varies according to your bank or credit union’s policies and your account history. Banks are more lenient in allowing overdrafts for customers who do not overdraft frequently and pay back the insufficient funds quickly. You can also sign up for overdraft protection programs your bank or credit union may offer to help you avoid hefty overdraft fees and high amounts of returned transactions.

Suggested Article: This Is How Much You Can Withdraw from an ATM

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179 comments

    • Hi Wilson,

      BOA states that “Although Bank of America is not obligated to pay an item if your account is overdrawn, the bank may pay these items as a courtesy to you.” Whether they choose to pay for your, and how much they are willing to pay, will depend on your personal banking history with BOA. Factors will include how long you’ve been with BOA, how much you have overdrafted in the past and how long you left your account without funds, etc. Overdraft limits also depend on what kind of account you have. For example, Core Checking doesn’t come with overdraft protection, but Interest checking does. For the Core Checking, you have two overdraft options. You can opt to have payments go through even though they overdraft your account, and you will be charged the $35 overdraft fee. Or, you can choose to have payments automatically not go through if they overdraft your account, in which case you wouldn’t incur overdraft fees. So, in some cases at BOA, you won’t even be able to overdraft your account at all. You should check the specific information about your account type and what overdraft option you have selected, if applicable. If you don’t know these account details and need to contact BOA, here’s their contact page.

  • I overdrafted my Armed Forces Bank account by $1200. I have not seen it on my credit report. Do they report it on my credit report. That was early last year.

    • Hi Cherise,

      Provided you brought your account up to a positive balance in a reasonable amount of time, overdrafts are not reported to the credit bureaus.

  • Hi, do you know the limit to wells Fargo overdraft checking account? I need $1000. Asap. Can I write a check if I only have $200 in my account? Being I am a new customer.

    • Hi Stressed,

      It’s never a good idea to overdraft your checking account. Not only will you get charged an overdraft fee in most cases, but the overdraft will be on your records, and stores might refuse to accept checks from you in the future. Because you’re a new customer, you also don’t have the benefit of having a good check writing history with the bank, so they will be unlikely to allow your check to go through. The overdraft fee on Wells Fargo Everyday Checking is $35. You can read more about their fees here.