Midland change lifts some fees 30%

MIDLAND BANK is changing the basis of overdraft charges on one million personal accounts. As a result, some customers will now face an increase in fees of more than 30 per cent, writes Sue Fieldman.

If you have an ordinary non-interest- bearing current account with Midland - which about 40 per cent of customers still do - you currently pay overdraft charges quarterly. Midland wants to bring these accounts into line with its other current accounts, which charge monthly.

The bank has written to customers with non-interest bearing accounts, saying that the change to monthly charging will take place after the quarter ending 4 June.

However, it does not say that if you overdraw for long periods of time you will be worse off. You have to glean that from the accompanying leaflet, and even then it is not immediately obvious unless you do a quick calculation as you read.

The leaflet explains that from 5 June fees for an overdraft in excess of an agreed limit will be ' pounds 10 for the month instead of pounds 24 for the quarter.' If you bother to work it out you will see that if you overdraw for the entire quarter you are paying 25 per cent more - pounds 30 instead of pounds 24.

And if you overdraw without the prior agreement of the branch you are stung even harder and charged ' pounds 17 for the month instead of pounds 39 for the quarter'.

A quick tap on the calculator shows that the charges for the quarter have risen to pounds 51 - an increase of more than 30 per cent.

Obviously if you only overdraw for a short time, you will be better off. But if your finances are in long-term distress, the extra charges will be far from welcome.

A spokesman for Midland said that while there may appear to be a lot of account holders affected by the change, a number of the accounts are small and little-used.