As a customer of Barclays I can only comment on what I know although it may be the case that other banks have already put measures in place to placate the masses regarding bank charges.
Barclays have introduced a ‘reserve amount’ in addition to the pre-agreed overdraft limit to act as a buffer. Mine’s £250 in addition to a £1000 overdraft. This means I can go overdrawn by £1250.
Instead of being charged a fee of £30 (if I go over my overdraft limit and don’t clear it the same day), I will only get charged £22 per 5 day period for being ‘in the reserve’.
However, although this fee is for a 5 day consecutive period, I have been told (by calling Barclays) that the £22 is actually charged in the same way as the old fee. If I don’t clear the reserve the same day I use it I will be charged.
If I don’t clear the reserve in 5 days I’ll be charged another £22.
2 problems I see with this:
1/ The previous £30 fee was a ‘one off’. If I went over my agreed overdraft limit and didn’t clear it the charge would be £30 and if I left the excess uncleared for any length of time no more fees would be charged (Unless more money came out of the account).
2/ The fee is charged after day 1 but it is for a 5 day period. I think the fee should only be charged if the ‘reserve’ is not cleared in 5 days.
All this really does is reduce the charge slightly and then act as an incentive to get funds into the bank or risk another fee in 5 days time.
My next question is: How long will it take Barclays to notify someone who has stepped into the reserve? 5 days? More? Less?
Part of the reason people were charged in the past was due to Barclays allowing people to take out more than they had available. E.g. If you had £20 left in the bank and went to a cash machine it would probably let you take out £30+.
Barclays assumed you would know this would take you over the limit but you’d clear it by the end of the day.
The reality is many people only think they know how much is in the bank.
I have been told by Barclays that they will no longer allow people to take more than they have in order to prevent badly managed accounts from being repeatedly charged.