Quarter 'could not live without overdraft'

A quarter of people say they could not live without their overdraft and one in five admits to being constantly in the red, a survey suggested today.

Around 78% of people have an arranged overdraft facility with their bank, although 21% said they would only use it in an emergency, according to discount website Groupola.com.

But 18% of those questioned admitted they were constantly overdrawn and 24% said they could not manage without the facility.

Only 6% of people said they had never used their overdraft, with 2% saying they had actively cancelled it.

Just under half of people with an overdraft said they had requested it from their bank manager, but 32% said they had felt forced into having one, while 12% said they had automatically been given one when they opened their bank account.

A fifth of people said they had first arranged an overdraft when they were a student, while 16% had taken one out to help cover an expensive purchase.

But despite 66% of people saying they considered an overdraft to be a form of debt to worry about, 38% admitted they had no idea how much interest they were charged on it.

Mark Pearson, chairman of Groupola.com, said: "An overdraft can sound extremely appealing, it can almost seem like free money, but it will always be something that needs to be paid back at some point."