Money alert: HSBC unpaid transaction fees

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The Independent Online

Some 9 million HSBC and first direct personal current account customers will soon no longer be hit with a whacking fee if the bank declines to pay a transaction because there's not enough money in the account.

The bank is scrapping the unpaid transaction fee – which can be up to £25 every time a standing order or direct debit is turned down because you're in the red – from 24 November.

The move is the beginning of "further improvements to our overdraft service", said the bank. It intends to simplify the way charges are added to current-account overdrafts so that it's easier for customers to work out what the costs will be. Other banks have already made similar changes so, in some ways, HSBC is now beginning to catch up with its rivals.

But the move is a positive one. While few customers actually end up being hit by the charge, there has always been the potential for anyone to fall into the red and end up in further financial difficulties. That risk should be lower in the future.

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