How to get out of your overdraft in 5 simple steps

If you’re like millions of other overdraft prisoners, you’re ready to get out of your overdraft for good. Read more to learn five simple steps for doing it.
An overdraft prisoner is someone who is stuck in their overdraft.

Overdrafts can be helpful. The first time you used yours, it was probably a great relief to know you had an option for covering unexpected expenses. But if you’ve stayed in your overdraft, it can start to feel less helpful and more like a prison.

If you’re barely keeping your head above water, or paying your overdraft off only to plunge back in, you’re not alone. According to Equifax, over a fifth of Brits were overdrawn in 2023, making it the second most common type of debt. Each year, banks generate billions of pounds through interest charges, fees, and other costs associated with overdrafts.

Here, we’ll share five essential steps for getting out of your overdraft for good.

1. Make a budget

If you’re reading this, it means you know your finances have a leak: something is costing you more than you can afford. The problem is that you might not know where or what the problem is. To find the root of your problem, make a monthly budget, listing out everything you spend money on, from groceries and rent to subscriptions and a pint with friends.

List everything in your budget. Don’t leave out the small items like a drink from a corner shop or a cup of coffee from a cafe. We get it. It can be embarrassing to look at your expenses and think, ‘am I really spending £40 on this?” However, the more honest and accurate you can be here, the better equipped you’ll be when it comes to getting out of your overdraft.

2. Cut back on expenses and look for areas to save

Once you’ve made a budget, it’s time to look at where your money is going each month. Rent and utilities aren’t things you can realistically cut back on, but you’ll find other areas you can reduce or altogether eliminate from your monthly expenses. Look for things like:

  • Unused or underused subscriptions or apps
  • Takeaway and pre-packaged meals
  • Unused or underused memberships to gyms

Cutting back in these areas can often give you an extra £20-40 a month that can be redirected toward cutting down your overdraft balance.

Additionally, you may be able to bring other expenses down. If you have a track record of safe driving, you could be eligible for a lower car insurance rate. You could also save on petrol by walking or using public transport for shorter trips.

By keeping your eyes peeled for unnecessary expenses and other costs that can be renegotiated or reduced, you can lower your dependence on your overdraft and pay off your balance for good.

3. Stop or reduce your overdraft usage

Remember the first law of holes: when you’re in one, stop digging. Granted, if you’re stuck in your overdraft, you probably depend on it to a certain extent, and cutting it out altogether might not be a feasible option. However, this is a crucial step toward improving your situation.

If you can’t stop using your overdraft immediately, start by reducing your usage each month. While you reduce your dependency on your overdraft, consider setting aside a bit of cash each month so there’s something other than your overdraft you can dip into if your budget goes awry.

4. Ask your bank for help

We know it can be hard to talk to your bank about your financial situation. It can feel like you’re admitting failure. However, your bank is legally obligated to treat you fairly. Get in touch with them, explain your situation, and ask if they can pause interest charges on your overdraft.

At the end of the day, it’s in your bank’s best interest to retain you as a customer. It might surprise you how much they can do to help, but in many cases, they can only give you that help if you ask for it.

The worst thing that can happen is your bank says they can’t change anything. No harm, no foul. But you could end up in a position that helps you get out of your overdraft faster.

5. Mind how much interest you’re paying

Overdraft interest rates can be high, often sitting close to 40%. That’s almost 10% higher than the interest rate on most credit cards and over 20% higher than most personal loans in the UK! To make those numbers more concrete, that means you’d accrue nearly £30 in interest alone every two months on a £500 overdraft.

If your overdraft’s interest rate is kicking you while you’re down, consider using a credit card or loan with a lower interest rate to pay off your overdraft. While you’ll still be making payments on the new line of credit, you could save hundreds of pounds in interest charges and get out of your overdraft faster.

However, be careful if you pursue this route. Poor discipline with your new credit line could put you deeper in debt, leaving you worse off than you started. Make sure you can afford the monthly payments on that loan so you don’t miss payments, damage your credit score, or be forced to dip into your overdraft again.

Related read: This is how credit card minimum payments keep you in debt

The big picture

  • Stay determined: You might not feel like you’re not making any progress at first. Be ready for that feeling and keep going. You’ll thank yourself when you’re out of your overdraft.
  • Practise your discipline: Getting out of your overdraft depends on your ability to do what’s best for your finances in the long run. It’s not always easy to think that way, so don’t be discouraged if you come up short of your initial expectations.
  • Ask for help if you need it: It can feel like asking for help is shameful, embarrassing, or somehow indicative of failure. Remember that millions of people have been in a situation just like yours. There are several options for getting help, whether it’s from your bank, a friend or family member, or debt counselling service. To get help, you have to ask, but you’ll be glad you did.

Get out of your overdraft and improve your finances today

Being in your overdraft for too long can seriously damage your credit score. It tells lenders that you’re struggling financially and are dependent on credit. While that can do serious damage to your credit score, the good news is you can start improving your credit by getting out of your overdraft.

If you’re trapped in your overdraft, use the Pave app to keep track of it and help you get out. By tracking your account balances and upcoming bills, Pave can empower you to make smarter budgeting decisions and minimise your need to use your overdraft. Plus, we may be able to extend you a credit line if you need it, helping eliminate your need for your overdraft altogether.

If you want to see for yourself why hundreds of thousands of people have turned to Pave to build their credit and get their finances under control, download the app today.

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