Barclays removes overdrafts if they've not been used by some customers in over a year - here are your options and what we know
Barclays customers have voiced concerns after being given just one month's notice that their "safety net" overdrafts will be removed during the cost of living crisis. The bank has told us it's cancelling overdrafts for some users who haven't dipped into them in for at least a year. Unhappy customers can appeal the decision - though make sure an overdraft is right for you first. Here's what you need to know.
'For some, an overdraft is a safety net'
Tim Wildman, from Brighton, received a letter from Barclays last month informing him of its decision to remove his £3,320 overdraft, which he'd not used in over a year. The 52-year-old, who is self-employed, made an appointment with his local branch and asked for the decision to be reversed, but he was told he would have to call the number on the letter to appeal the decision.
On calling, Tim was told his only option was to reapply for the overdraft - something that would leave a mark on his credit file and could impact his ability to take out credit in future.
Tim said: "Thankfully at my age now, I'm financially okay but I can remember when I was younger, living hand to mouth, I relied on my overdraft and knew exactly how much I had in there.
"With the current cost of living crisis right now, for some an overdraft is a safety net. It seems as though Barclays is trying to protect itself from its customers, rather than being there to help."
You can appeal Barclays' decision - though there are no guarantees
If you want to keep your overdraft with Barclays, you have two options:
- First, ring the number on the letter you've been sent and say you want to appeal Barclays' decision. As part of this process, Barclays will need to confirm your income and expenditure, though this is not a hard credit check, so it won't have an impact on your credit file.
- If your appeal is declined and your overdraft is removed, you can reapply to Barclays. This will, however, be subject to a hard credit check and could impact your ability to take out credit in future. Also, bear in mind that Barclays' overdrafts are not interest-free and come with an annual interest rate of 35%, so you may be better off switching elsewhere (see below for more on this).
If you don't want to stay with Barclays, you can get a 0% overdraft elsewhere
If you don't need to stay with Barclays you may be better off switching to a bank with a 0% overdraft - though bear in mind there are no guarantees you'll get it. Use the banks' overdraft eligibility checkers first, which should help you find out if it's likely before you apply.
Banks currently offering 0% overdrafts include First Direct, which offers 0% on the first £250 and 39.9% interest on anything over that, and Nationwide, which offers 0% for the first year and 39.9% after.
However, overdrafts are debts and like with any debt, you should only take it on unless you absolutely have to. If you do have to, it's important you try to pay it off as soon as you can. See our Cut overdraft costs guide for help with this.
Of course, other banks may decide to follow Barclays in axing "unaffordable" unused overdrafts, though HSBC (which includes First Direct), Lloyds Banking Group, and NatWest Banking Group told us they had no plans to do so. Santander told us it may reduce an overdraft if it hasn't been used in over six months, but it said it had no plans to completely remove such overdrafts.