Your Available Bank Balance May Appear To Have Suddenly Dropped Today
It's the week before Christmas, which, for most people, means their bank balance is looking much less healthy than usual.
If this sounds like you, then fear not, because the chances are it's the result of a change made by your bank.
From today, banks are changing the way they display what funds are available in your account. Previously, most had included customers' overdraft amount when showing their available funds.
This meant that if you were down to your last £5 but you had a pre-arranged overdraft of £500, it would actually appear as though you had £505 left to spend.
Now, this was, of course, fairly misleading. We've all been sat there rubbing our hands together, ogling that sweet £500 that doesn't actually belong to us, only to realise the devastating truth a few days later.
However, from today, new rules from the Financial Conduct Authority will ban banks from doing this, meaning your available balance will no longer include the overdraft figure.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain earlier this month, Martin Lewis explained how new rules will mean your bank balance could look very different.
He said: "Currently, many banks include your permitted arranged overdraft when showing you your 'available balance' - so if you have £100 in your account but also have an arranged overdraft facility for £500, your available balance will appear as £600."
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Lewis continued: "From Wednesday December 18, new rules from the regulator Financial Conduct Authority will ban banks from doing this.
"In this example above, your available balance will appear as £100 instead - and if you went into your overdraft, you'd see a negative number."
The changes aim to help people realise that overdrafts are debt.
HSBC, First Direct and M&S Bank were among the first banks to put the change in place - which caused a little bit of panic among some users, who didn't realise why their balance had suddenly dropped drastically.
Barclays, Co-op Bank, Monzo and Nationwide also previously excluded overdrafts from customers' available balances.
Steve Nowottny, news and features editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "This is a sensible change in the rules that will make it much clearer to customers that an overdraft is a debt, and it's good to see banks starting to give much clearer info to customers.
"Yet it's important you understand this change is happening. If you don't, you may understandably panic and think money is missing from your account, as we've seen in some cases this week.
"Banks have been working hard to alert customers, but they need to be as clear as possible about what's changing, why it's changing and when it's changing, so that those affected understand what to look out for and benefit from a very positive move."
Featured Image Credit: PA