How Can a Checking Account Go Below Zero Dollars?

by Michael Keenan
Writing a check for more than your balance can drop your account into the red.

You might think that your checking account balance can't go past zero -- after all, you would think the bank would limit you to only taking out what you put in -- but that's not always the case. For example, overdraft protection and various fees are two ways your bank account can go below zero.

Going Into the Red

Many banks offer overdraft protection, which means they'll honor a check you write for more than your current balance -- it saves you a bounced check fee and some embarrassment, but you have to pay the excess back, plus any interest and fees that apply, which vary by institution. You could also find yourself facing a negative bank balance if you incur fees on your checking account that add up to more than you have in the account. For example, some banks charge a monthly fee if you don't carry a certain minimum balance in your account. Other banks may charge ATM fees for using your debit card.

About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."

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