Close this search box.

Table of Contents



An overdraft is a banking term that refers to the circumstance when money is withdrawn from a bank account and the balance goes below zero. Essentially, it is a financial service offered by banking institutions which allows a customer to borrow money or spend more than what is currently available in their account. However, it often involves fees or interest payments as it’s considered a short term loan.


The phonetic spelling of the word “overdraft” is /ˈəʊvədraft/ in International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) notation. In a more simplified way, it’s pronounced like “OH-ver-draft”.

Key Takeaways


  1. Understanding Overdraft: Overdraft is a banking term that refers to the status of spending more money than is available in one’s account. It allows for temporary borrowing, typically coming with interest or fees.
  2. Fees and Interest: Banks usually charge overdraft fees when you spend more money than you have. The fees can quickly pile up if left unchecked, leading to significant debt. Some banks also charge interest on the overdrafted amount.
  3. Overdraft Protection: Many banks offer overdraft protection services to prevent customers from unintentionally overdrawing their accounts. These services can be a life-saver, but it’s essential to understand the bank’s specific terms and fees associated with them to prevent any unexpected expenses.



The business/finance term “overdraft” is important as it refers to a banking facility that allows an individual or organization to continue withdrawing money even if the account has insufficient funds. This provides a safety net in terms of short-term liquidity and helps to manage unexpected expenditures or shortfalls in cash flow. However, typically, banks may charge fees or high interest rates on overdrafts, making it crucial for businesses to manage these efficiently. The use and management of overdrafts can significantly impact a company’s financial health and credit score. Therefore, understanding and properly utilizing an overdraft is a critical component of effective financial management.


Overdrafts provide a crucial financial safety net for individuals and businesses, enabling them to continue making transactions even when their accounts lack sufficient funds. Essentially, an overdraft allows account holders to ‘borrow’ money from their bank up to a pre-set limit, thus ensuring they can fulfill necessary payments or purchases despite a temporary shortfall in their account. This often proves instrumental in emergency situations or during times when financial liquidity isn’t readily available. As a crucial element of modern banking, overdrafts provide an important way to manage personal or business financial flow when income and expenses are not perfectly timed.From a business perspective, overdrafts can be invaluable in managing operational expenses and enhancing financial flexibility. There can often be a discrepancy between when a business makes revenue and when various costs and expenses fall due. An overdraft allows a business to proceed with operations uninterrupted, despite such timing disparities between revenue and costs. It can also be a cost-effective way to fund short term needs as the interest charges only apply to the overdrawn amount and for the duration it’s overdrawn. However, responsible use is crucial as persistent use of overdrafts can be expensive and could signal cash flow problems.


1. Personal Bank Account Overdraft: A common real-world example is when an individual’s bank account goes into an overdraft. This can happen if the individual writes a check, makes an ATM withdrawal, or uses a debit card to make a purchase that exceeds the available balance in their account. The bank can choose to cover the transaction, allowing the account to go into a negative balance. However, banks typically charge an overdraft fee ranging from $20 to $40 for this service.2. Business Overdraft: Often businesses may find themselves in an overdraft situation. For example, a small retailer could face an unexpected expense such as a large bill for emergency repairs to their premises. If the business doesn’t have sufficient funds in its bank account to cover this expense, it would go into overdraft. Some banks offer overdraft protection to businesses, which can be a useful buffer against unexpected cashflow issues but often comes with fees and interest charges.3. Overdraft Line of Credit: A person or business could also have an overdraft line of credit. This works like a traditional credit card but is linked specifically to the person’s or enterprise’s checking account. If the account would go into a negative balance, funds are automatically transferred from the line of credit to cover the difference. For example, if a business has an overdraft line of credit and needs to make payroll but doesn’t have enough funds in their checking account, the overdraft line of credit would kick in and cover the necessary funds. This type of arrangement can also incur interest rates and fees.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is an overdraft?

An overdraft is a financial situation where money is drawn from a bank account and exceeds the available balance. This gives the account a negative balance and is basically a short-term loan from the bank.

How does overdraft work?

Overdraft works when you make a purchase or withdrawal that exceeds the available balance in your checking account. The bank may cover the difference, allowing the transaction to go through, however you will typically be charged an overdraft fee.

Is an overdraft bad?

Regularly using overdrafts can lead to financial problems as the fees and interest for using an overdraft service can quickly add up. However, an occasional, responsibly paid back overdraft isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can be a helpful emergency tool.

Can anyone use the overdraft facility?

It depends on the bank’s policies. Some banks offer overdraft protection as a service for their customers, while others may require you to qualify for this feature.

Are there any fees associated with overdraft?

Yes, banks usually charge an overdraft fee when they cover a transaction that exceeds your account balance. These fees can vary widely between different banks.

How can I avoid overdraft fees?

Two ways to avoid overdraft fees are keeping your account balance positive and opting out of overdraft protection. You can also set up balance alerts or link your checking account to a savings account or credit card.

Can overdraft impact my credit score?

Banks don’t report overdrafts to credit bureaus directly. However, if it’s not paid off promptly and the bank decides to charge off the account or sell it to a collection agency, it could appear on your credit report and affect your credit score.

Can I get an overdraft removed from my account?

Yes, you can request your bank to remove overdraft protection from your account. However, doing so could result in transactions being declined if you don’t have enough funds available.

How can I repay my overdraft?

Overdraft balances are usually repaid automatically when new funds are deposited into your account. You can also make manual repayments through online banking, in branch or over the phone, depending on your bank’s services.

How long can my account stay in overdraft?

The length of time that an account can stay in overdraft and the subsequent actions taken vary among banks. After a certain period, which is usually about 60 days, the account could be closed and reported to a collection agency if the overdraft is not repaid.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More