Are Short-Term Loans Cheaper Than Overdraft Fees?

There’s been a lot of news recently about overdraft fees — the fees charged by banks to their account holders after an account dips below a £0 balance, meaning the account holder has a loan balance, even if small, from the bank.

Earlier this year, The Telegraph published its “worst offender” index, listing banks that charged the highest overdraft fees for their customers.

Santander was one of the top offenders, with an unarranged overdraft fee of £6 per day capped at £95 per month. On arranged overdrafts of up to £2,000, Santander charged daily fees of one pound per day; rising to £3 per day for overdrafts of £3,000 and above.

Other banks were similarly expensive. Borrowing money on overdraft from Halifax could result in charges of up to £3 per day, according to the July 2017 article. Unarranged overdrafts incurred a whopping £5 per day fee, capped at a maximum of £100 in overdraft fees per month.

RBS and NatWest also charged heavy unarranged overdraft fees, with an £8 per day fee limited to a total of £80 per month.

With as much as £100 in monthly overdraft fees from many bank accounts, it’s been suggested that borrowing money through short-term loans could be a more affordable option for people in need of quick access to cash.

The numbers seem to agree. An August 2017 article in The Guardian calculated that many of the most widely used bank accounts in the UK charged APR rates of up to 52%, making them more expensive — in certain cases, depending on borrowing habits — than payday loans.

Banks, to their credit, appear to be changing their overdraft fee structures in an attempt to make borrowing less expensive for customers. However, many have admitted that as much as 10% of account holders could end up paying more for overdrafts under the new fees.

Despite public warnings about short-term loans, it turns out that overdrafts — even if used rarely and responsibly — could be a far bigger cost for many British bank account holders.

For example, a loan of £300 over 3 months from a short-term loan provider such as Mr Lender, results in a total repayable of £444.00 (£300 capital and £144.00 interest*) at an interest rate of 0.8% per day on outstanding capital.

The same amount borrowed via an unarranged overdraft could result in £300 in fees through a high street bank using many of the fee structures listed above.

Public perception of borrowing money — and the true costs of borrowing money — isn’t always in sync with financial reality. For years, borrowing from the bank has been viewed as a safe, cheap way to access finance; borrowing from a short-term lender has been viewed as the opposite.

The reality, however, is that the best loan for your personal circumstances may not come from the source that you first think of. Study and compare interest rates and fees and you could find that borrowing money via a short-term loan is more cost effective than using your bank overdraft.

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