How to reclaim unfair bank charges

If you have incurred excessive overdraft charges or other bank fees, there’s a chance you could claim them back or come to an arrangement with your bank, especially if you’re in financial hardship. Start by talking directly to your bank. If that doesn’t work, you may be able to get free help.

Is it worth trying to reclaim unfair overdraft charges?

Yes, absolutely. It takes a bit of effort, but remember:

  • You’ve got nothing to lose. Except, perhaps, some time calling or writing letters.
  • It won’t cost you anything. If you’ve got a case it’ll be investigated for free.
  • Your bank won’t penalise you. You won’t be treated differently for complaining.

Don’t forget to consider why you got charged in the first place.

Who can reclaim charges?

Bank charges have fallen to around £15 in recent years.

Anyone can write or speak to their bank and ask for a refund. Some banks may even write it of as a gesture of goodwill as a valued customer.

A November 2009 Supreme Court ruling made it more difficult to claim charges back, however it is still still possible, especially if you’re struggling.

If your bank refuses, you can always ask the Financial Ombudsman Service to investigate (for free).

They can help if:

  • You’re in real financial hardship. For example, if you’re struggling to buy necessities and pay bills, or you’ve lost your job.
  • The charges are unfair compared to what you did. For example, if you went overdrawn £1 and were charged £35
  • You’re stuck in a spiral of charges. This might be the case if the charges keep putting you into the red, and the overdraft keeps costing you more in charges.

How to claim back bank charges

Money Saving Expert step-by-step guide

We think Money Saving Expert has the best guide on how to reclaim unfair overdraft charges and bank fees.

Their guide will help you:

  • Decide whether to complain
  • Work out how much you might get
  • Complain to your bank
  • Write good complaint letters, with sample letters and templates
  • Take it to the Financial Ombudsman if your bank won’t help
Everything you need to know is in their step-by-step reclaiming guide.

Avoid using claims management companies

Avoid using a Claims Management Company. They’ll charge you to manage your case and you can get the same help for free.

Most search results about reclaiming bank charges are from claims management companies looking to get money out of you. And, because the rules changed in 2009, the web is riddled with wrong information about reclaiming bank charges.

These companies will charge you to reclaim money – you can do it yourself using the guide above and avoid paying them a portion of any refund.

Why did you get charged in the first place?

It’s not fun getting overdraft charges, but before you complain ask yourself why you ended up getting charged.

  • Did you read the small print? Make sure you understand what you can be charged for. For example, you might be fined for going overdrawn by a small amount, for a short length of time.
  • Are you struggling with debt? If so, there are lots of organisations that can help with free, confidential advice. Find out Where to go to get free, confidential debt advice.
  • Could you be managing your money better? If so, learn how to take control in our Beginner’s guide to managing money.