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Bank's 24-hour overdraft grace period

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TEXT OF STORY

BILL RADKE: You can call it the $35 cup of coffee. This is what can happen if you buy a latte without enough money in your bank account and your bank hits you with an overdraft charge.

Well now, Marketplace's Eve Troeh tells us about a Columbus, Ohio, bank that says it wants to help customers avoid that extra fee.


EVE TROEH: With Huntington Bank's new "24 Grace" program, if you overdraw funds, you get a text message that basically says "You have 24 hours to give us our money."

That is, if you've signed up for bank emails or text messages. Only 5 percent of Huntington's customers have so far. Most customers have to check online or by phone to know if they've overdrawn.

But Huntington's CEO Steve Steinhauer says the new policy will change that.

STEVE STEINHAUER: We intend to promote alerts, mobile and text, that will help them manage their money better.

He also says customers who constantly check their balance right before payday can relax a little.

STEINHAUER: It will accelerate their cash flow by a day.

But if customers don't cover overdrafts by the next day, they get charged $23.

Ben Popken at Consumerist.com says that's the catch.

BEN POPKEN: A fee is a fee, even if it's delayed, it's still gonna hurt. Before we punch you, we'll give you a 24-hour chance.

He says it's better for most customers if the bank declines a charge or a check when there isn't enough money in their account.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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