What is an overdraft?

What is an overdraft?

Why you should have one arranged and how you can manage your finances to avoid fees and charges

Add your signposting title here… What is an Overdraft?

An overdraft allows you to borrow money through your current account.  It can be easy to think of your overdraft limit as your spending limit but it should only be used for emergencies or short term borrowing.

An arranged overdraft is an overdraft that we’ve approved for you, and you can borrow up to that limit. We’ll only charge you interest and/or fees if you actually use it. Depending on the type of current account you have, the fees and any interest-free threshold will differ.

Learn more about the costs
Overdrafts What are the different types of Overdrafts we talk about?

Arrranged Overdraft

It's a set limit we agree with you (after you've successfully applied). That limit then lets you spend more than you actually have in your current account. This might be on things like paying a bill just before pay day that you'd forgotten about. 

As an example, with an Arranged Overdraft of £100 but only £50 of your own money in your current account, you could then make a payment of up to £150 because of the Arranged Overdraft. 

There are no set up fees for an Arranged Overdraft, but you could be charged an Arranged Overdraft Usage Fee and interest for using an Arranged Overdraft, depending on the type of current account you have, how much of the limit you've used and how long you use it for.

Unarranged Overdraft

An Unarranged Overdraft is where you spend more money than you have in your current account and haven't agreed an Arranged Overdraft limit beforehand. You’ll also go into an Unarranged Overdraft if you go over the agreed limit of your Arranged Overdraft, if you have one.


If you enter an Unarranged Overdraft by more than £10, you will be charged an Unarranged Overdraft Usage Fee of £6 for each day you remain in that position.


This is then capped at £90 per charging period. A charging period runs from month to month, usually from the date that your current account was opened.

Already have an Arranged Overdraft but not sure what your limit is?
Understanding overdraft fees and charges Learn more about the costs and how to avoid them

There's no charge for setting up an Arranged Overdraft, but if you do use it (depending on what type of current account you have), you may need to pay an Overdraft Usage Fee and Interest on the full amount that you borrow.  

There's also charges involved for using an Unarranged Overdraft. This can often work out more expensive than using an Arranged Overdraft.

We can help you understand these costs better, and give you some tips to help avoid them in future.

Learn more about overdraft costs


Got a Select Account?
Our free Overdraft Control service can help you avoid fees and charges

Overdraft Control is a free service that’s available on our Select Account.

It can help you avoid going overdrawn unexpectedly on your account by (where possible) rejecting payments that would take your account into an overdraft that hasn't been arranged with us


Download our Overdraft Control leaflet

Overdraft Calculator

Get savvy with your overdraft.

Use our Overdraft Calculator to see how an Arranged Overdraft can help save you money.

Get started
Managing your current account How can you keep an eye on your account?

There are a number of ways you can stay on top of your money whether it be Online, on the move or by text and email alerts. For those of you with a Select Account, make sure you know about Overdraft Control too, as it can help with managing your account more closely.

Our Mobile app

Keep track of your money whilst you're on the move plus much more with our Mobile app. 

Available to Royal Bank of Scotland personal customers with a debit card, Online Banking and a UK mobile number starting with 07.


Read more about our app

Online Banking

Check your balance, pay bills and make transfers from the comfort of your sofa.


Online Banking is available to those aged 11 and over who have a Royal Bank of Scotland account 


See how else it can help you

Text alerts

Alerts are a simple way to keep up-to-date with your accounts and help minimise overdraft fees and more.

Available to Royal Bank of Scotland personal customers aged over 11, with an eligible account, valid UK mobile number and/or email address. 


See more about Text Alerts

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Add your signposting title here… Not sure which type of borrowing is right for you?

If you need to borrow money and you are not sure which product might be right for you, use our helpful tool to compare the features of different types of lending.

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