First off... the law which goes into effect today only impacts new bank customers.
If you haven't changed banks... it won't matter to you until August 15th... The sign up deadline.
Until then your bank will probably encourage you to sign up for overdraft protection.
I know my bank displays a message about it everytime I use the ATM.
Banks will tell you... sign up for overdraft protection. That way if you try to use your debit card to buy a cup of coffee or make a cash withdrawl, your card won't be denied if you don't have enough money in your account.
But financial expert Mandy Walker with Consumer Reports says... Don't do it!
Mandy says, "We're suggesting that people do not opt-in... basically do nothing... but do other things instead that will protect you."
Mandy says banks make billions of dollars from overdraft protection fees which average about $35 a whack.
And get this... a recent banking study found only 14% of all debit card users have this problem. In fact, they account for 93% of all overdraft fees.
Mandy's advice... protect yourself for free by signing up for online banking. That way you can check your account before you use your card.
Or ask your bank to set up an alert... where it sends you an email or text message whenever your account's low on funds.
Another option... connect your card to your savings account. That way if your checking account's dry, your debit card can pull from your savings account. There may be a charge for that... but Mandy says it's much cheaper than the opt-in fee.
Mandy says, "That will still cost you a fee, but it's a lot less... it usually ranges from $10 to $15."
The best advice... always try to keep a $100 buffer in your account so you never have to worry. And don't automatically assume that a deposit you made in the morning will cover a debit purchase you make later in the day.
Opt-in overdraft protection has nothing to do with the checks you write.
It only applies to the charges and cash withdrawls you make with your debit card.
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