NatWest hikes charges: Customers who are often overdrawn face heavy penalties, writes Vivien Goldsmith

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The Independent Online
CUSTOMERS at National Westminster could pay fiercely higher charges, following the bank's decision to move from quarterly to monthly or even daily charging for overdrafts.

If accounts go more than pounds 50 overdrawn or pounds 50 beyond agreed limits, the charges move from pounds 36 a quarter to pounds 3.50 a day. For an account overdrawn without agreement for a whole quarter, this is a rise of pounds 279 or 775 per cent. But those curbing the overdraft within 10 days will pay less.

The account charges on agreed overdrafts are changing from pounds 19 a quarter, or pounds 23 a quarter on the interest-bearing account, to pounds 9 a month from 1 June. A customer who is overdrawn across two months will be paying more. Someone overdrawn for all three months will pay pounds 27 - a 42 per cent rise.

David Powell, director of personal financial services at NatWest, said : 'Regular overdrawers use our services more often, and since it costs three to five times more to run their accounts, it is fair that they pay more.'

About 40 per cent of NatWest customers overdraw either constantly or occasionally. Up to half of those will pay less under the new regime.

'We have no intention at the present time of charging customers in the black,' said Mr Powell.

NatWest is dropping its pounds 20 charge for letters informing customers that they are overdrawn, or for taking an unapproved overdraft using a cash card.

The bank is writing to all overdrawn customers to suggest ways to reduce their charges, for instance by taking out a personal loan.

From this month, it has started notifying customers 14 days in advance about charges on their accounts.

Lloyds and Barclays are already on monthly charging, and Midland is to switch from June.

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