Citi becomes largest bank to eliminate overdraft fees

Says move will increase financial inclusion for underserved communities

Citibank announced that it is eliminating its overdraft fees, becoming the largest financial institution to make this change. (iStock)

Citibank announced its plans to eliminate overdraft fees this summer, becoming the largest bank to make this policy change.

The bank will stop charging its overdraft fees, returned item fees and overdraft protection fees, according to a Feb. 24 press release. Citi said it is the only top-5 U.S. bank to completely eliminate these fees, a move it said will help increase financial inclusion in underserved communities. 

"This latest enhancement is a significant step for Citi as a leader in the banking industry offering the most consumer-friendly overdraft practices," Gonzalo Luchetti, Citi CEO of U.S. personal banking, said. "We are continuously looking for ways to utilize our industry-leading capabilities to make the financial system easier and more equitable for communities who have little or no financial buffer."

Consumers who need help paying off outstanding debt could consider consolidating it with a personal loan. To see if this option is right for you, you can visit Credible to find your personalized interest rate without affecting your credit score.


Expert says eliminating fees will help underserved communities

Citi offers two overdraft protection services that cover negative balance transactions. Neither of these will have fees beginning this summer:

  • Safety Check - automatically moves funds over from a linked Citi savings account to cover a negative balance
  • Checking Plus - a line of credit that automatically transfers funds to cover a negative balance

Beyond these, Citi will continue to not authorize ATM or point-of-sale transactions when there are not funds available. And the bank will allow consumers to enroll in low-balance alerts. 

One expert applauded Citibank's announcement, saying that eliminating these fees will help underserved communities. 

"Overdraft fees kick people when they are down," Nadine Chabrier, policy and litigation counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), said. "Their costs are borne by financially vulnerable consumers. These fees disproportionately harm Black and Latino Americans with a bank account. Overdraft fees are also one of the most common reasons people lose their bank accounts.

"Citi’s decision to eliminate overdraft fees is a victory for financial fairness for its many customers," she continued. "Families that bank with Citi will be more financially secure because of this action."

If you are looking to reduce your monthly expenses and pay off outstanding debt, you could consider a debt consolidation loan. Visit Credible to compare multiple personal loan lenders at once and choose the one with the best interest rate for you.


CFPB grows increasingly critical of overdraft fees

Citibank's announcement comes as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has grown increasingly critical of what it called "abusive overdraft fees" in a recently-released report

"Abusive overdraft practices remain a systemic problem," Chabrier said. "The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration, and Federal Reserve Board have the authority and obligation to protect consumers, as well as to safeguard safety and soundness, by reining in these fees. Absent meaningful regulatory action, financially vulnerable families will continue to be dragged into the quicksand of relentless overdraft fees."

But some experts disagree with this stance, saying that the CFPB universally cutting overdraft fees could actually hurt consumers since it would also limit overdraft protection options. 

A personal loan can be a good option for consumers trying to pay off debt, allowing them to consolidate and potentially save money over time. To discuss this option, you can contact Credible to speak to a loan expert and get all of your questions answered.

Have a finance-related question, but don't know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.