Morning Consult Report Finds Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Have Overdrafted Accounts Within Past Year

Jun 21, 2021Banks & Credit Unions, Financial Literacy, News

Recent data from Morning Consult showed that nearly half of Americans overdrafted their accounts in the past and 19 percent have overdrafted within the last 12 months. At least 75 percent of the U.S. public thought that banks should have waived overdraft fees during the pandemic and more than half said the fees are unfair altogether.

In May, a Senate Banking Committee hearing brought overdraft penalties into the spotlight, as Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) noted that the nation’s top banks gained $4 billion in overdraft fees in 2020. Ally Bank recently announced its complete elimination of overdraft fees,  and PNC released a new feature that prevents overdrafts for digital customers. Other banks appear to be following suit.

The data indicated that Millennials, members of Gen X, Black adults, and urban populations were more likely to overdraft their accounts than the general population. 70 percent of consumers said they would feel more favorably toward their financial provider if it waived overdraft fees entirely.

However, the U.S. is divided over the general fairness of overdraft fees; 48 percent said they are a fair charge, while 52 percent saw them as unfair. Women, Gen Z adults, Black adults, and those with lower incomes are most likely to view the fees as unfair.

Many banks are weighing the decision to eliminate or reduce overdraft fees, which would be more affordable for large national banks than regional banks. If more alter their overdraft policies, regional banks will have to prepare to do the same or to defend their current position on overdraft fees.

The Morning Consult poll was conducted between June 4-7, 2021, among 2,200 U.S. adults, with a margin of error of +/- 2 points.

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