Banks could be banned from charging customers who go into an unarranged overdraft. It's a scenario most people will know well – you get to the end of the month and your money just doesn't last quite long enough, an unexpected bill comes out, you go over your overdraft and suddenly you have to pay a bank charge.
So how are people affected by hidden overdraft fees? And would banning them help?
Wilhelm, 48 (and Poppy the pup, 4)
"It depends what phase you are in. Life is full of up and downs, but I think these things really hit people most when they’re struggling, when they’re already watching every penny. I think it’s quite greedy when banks charge people for overdrafts. These fees are hidden and you don’t really know what it is, you don’t know what you’re being charged for.
“These things hit people most when they’re struggling, when they’re already watching every penny. It’s greedy for banks to charge.
In business it’s normal – I run a business as well. Every time you’re overdrawn it’s £100. And this is with one of the major banks. On a private level of course it hits you when you get charged, especially credit cards, the charges are sometimes so unacceptable if you pay one or two days late, it’s just so much money.
In business, £100 won't necessarily cause a problem but it adds up. Say it comes to £500 over the course of the year, think how many places you could have spent that money. The banks make enough money anyway with transaction charges. We’ve started to use alternative services to avoid these hideous charges."
"If you’ve got a few direct debits coming out at the end of the month – Thames Water, British Gas, those kind of things. Even if you end up £1 overdrawn at the end of the month HSBC charges you £25 if it goes on over 24 hours that’s another charge as well.
I had problems with it before. I had to call them and I had to speak to them. You have to explain what you’re going through as a human being, because if the money’s not there the money’s not there. They waived it off once or twice and after that they say there’s no more excuses, even when I explain to them that I’ve been a customer since school days.
“That’s how these bankers are making their money at the end of the day. They don’t care about our problems
I’ve started working now but sometimes you get different circumstances in life. I think I’ve paid about £500 in total, on different occasions. I’m not exaggerating. Sometimes you’ve got enough to get by, but sometimes if you get paid at the beginning of the month, that money won’t stay until the end of the month.
But that’s how all these bankers are making money at the end of the day, they don’t want to hear about our problems."
"If there's no money, there’s no money. Banks shouldn’t be allowed to charge people. This is how the banks are getting money off people. It’s never happened to me but I have had friends who went into an unarranged overdraft. Each day there’s an interest charge. It’s piling up, and then they get bad credit.
I don’t think it should happen. If you don’t have the money the bank shouldn’t give it to you at all. It’s a catch 22. They give you money when they know you don’t have it, the debt’s piling up and you don’t know how to pay. It’s the same with credit cards. They’re giving increasing credit limits and and people end up spending it and not knowing how to pay.
“They give you money when they know you don’t have it. The debt’s piling up and you don’t know how to pay.
I had a big problem with PPI. They charged me on the loan I took on my credit card. It was imposed on me. It was unlawful and I managed to claim it back. They weren’t that keen on giving it back, but I showed them all the evidence."
"About two months ago I was overdrawn, and I had a call from the bank saying I had to pay if I hadn’t paid by a certain time they’d charge me. I paid the money, and I paid on time, but if I wasn’t able to pay on time, I could have had problems. They shouldn’t be able to charge people. They should do that, they should stop it. That’s my opinion."
…and who’s getting the bill for all this? Money is such a core part of the economy, and a lot of economic power lies in the hands of those who print it, earn it, and spend it. But money’s not just as a tool for exchange; it’s taken on a value in itself, and there’s a whole economy around money alone…