Checking & Savings

Overdraft Protection FAQ

How do I avoid an Overdraft on my account?
The best way to avoid Overdraft and bounced-check fees is to keep your checking account balanced so you don’t overdraw it.

  • Know how much money you have in your checking account by keeping your account register up-to-date. Record all checks when you write them and other transactions when you make them. And don’t forget to subtract any fees.
  • Record all transactions, including ATM withdrawals and fees, debit card purchases, and online payments.
  • Don’t forget about automatic bill payments you may have set up for utilities, insurance, or other recurring payments.
  • Keep an eye on your account balance. Remember that some checks and automatic payments may not have cleared yet. You may set up alerts in online banking that will notify you via e-mail of your daily balance, when your balance drops below an amount you specify, and when a check has cleared.
  • Review your account statements each month.
  • Use our free services, online banking and FlashTalk telephone banking, 205-327-2328 or 1-800-524-6546, to check your available balance at any time.

What options does America’s First offer for Overdraft Protection?

  • Overdraft Protection Line of Credit
  • Share (savings) account
  • Courtesy Pay

What is an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit?

An Overdraft Protection Line of Credit is a loan. It is a line of credit that is available to you when needed to cover an insufficient checking account transaction. This loan will cover insufficient checking transactions (checks, ACH, Point of Sale, or Bill Payment) up to your available credit limit.

How does an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit work?
If you have Overdraft Protection, instead of overdrawing your account or sending items back unpaid and charging an NSF fee, we will advance money from your Overdraft Line of Credit to pay those transactions up to your available limit.

What is the cost associated with an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit?
The Overdraft Protection Line of Credit is a loan and any amounts advanced on the Line of Credit are subject to a finance charge.

When do I pay the charges on my Overdraft Protection Line of Credit?
You may make payments on your Overdraft account any time there is an outstanding balance, but we automatically transfer a minimum payment from your checking account on the 5th day of each month if a payment is due and there are available funds.

How do I sign up for an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit?
In order to open an Overdraft Line of Credit, you do have to apply and qualify. Because it is a loan, you must meet certain requirements. You can apply at any of our branches or call 205-320-4000 or 1-800-633-8431. An Overdraft Line of Credit is the most inexpensive way to protect your account from overdraft charges and is our recommended Overdraft Protection method.

What if I don’t have an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit?
If you do not have an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit, or if you have reached your limit on this Line of Credit, we will then look to your savings that you have with us to cover insufficient items.

How is my Share (savings) account used as Overdraft Protection?
If there are available funds in your savings account, we will automatically transfer the funds electronically from your savings account.

Is there a cost to transfer the funds from my savings account?
There is a $5 transfer fee each time a transfer is made.

Are there any restrictions to how many transfers can be made from my savings account?
Under current federal regulations, you may have no more than six (6) electronic transfers from your savings account per calendar month (transfers via Online Banking and FlashTalk count towards this total).

What if there are no available funds in my savings account, or I have reached my maximum number of transfers?
If there are no available funds in your savings account, or you have reached the limit of six (6) transfers in one month, we may, at our discretion, pay the Overdraft through our Courtesy Pay program.

What is Courtesy Pay?
Courtesy Pay is a service for qualifying members that allows us to pay certain checking account transactions when there are insufficient funds in your account. Debit transactions that qualify for Courtesy Pay protection are checks, ACH debits, and point of sale (Check Card). Courtesy Pay provides an added layer of protection on eligible checking accounts to help members avoid the embarrassment of “bounced” checks and declined point of sale transactions.

How does Courtesy Pay work?
If your account is in good standing, and your other overdraft sources are not available, we will pay insufficient items up to $500. Your checking account will be overdrawn by the amount that you exceeded your balance plus the amount of the Courtesy Pay fee.

What is the cost for Courtesy Pay?
There is a $30.00 fee assessed for each transaction that is paid via Courtesy Pay.

How long do I have to repay any Overdrawn Balance?
You must make a deposit to repay the overdrawn balance within 5 business days.

What else should I know about Courtesy Pay?
America’s First will not overdraw an account more than $500 using Courtesy Pay. The payment of a check, point of sale or ACH transaction that results in an overdrawn balance is at the sole discretion of America’s First.

Do I have to sign up for Courtesy Pay?
Currently, new members are automatically enrolled after they meet certain eligibility qualifications. These include but are not limited to:

  • Your membership must be in good standing; and
  • Your checking account must have been open for at least 30 days.

However, under new federal regulations, beginning July 1, 2010, new members will not be eligible for Courtesy Pay on Debit transactions unless they “opt-in” to the program and existing members who are currently using the program must “opt-in” by August, 15, 2010 to continue their eligibility for this service.

What happens if I don’t opt-in?
If you are making a purchase with your debit card and there are no available funds in your checking account, and your other overdraft sources are depleted, the transaction will be denied.

Why should I opt-in?
Courtesy Pay is a service designed to help you avoid costly mistakes in your checking account. Think of the following scenarios:

  • You are at the checkout counter of the grocery store and your total comes to $300. Your account has a balance of $285. If you opted in to Courtesy Pay, this transaction could be approved.
  • You and the family are at a restaurant having dinner. The total bill comes to over $100. You only have $85 in your checking account. If you haven’t opted in to Courtesy Pay, you’ll have to find another way to pay for your meal.

Opting in to Courtesy Pay can help you avoid an embarrassing situation when your account balance is less than you anticipated.

How do I opt-in?
All we need is your written confirmation. There are a number of ways for you to opt-in.

  • You may visit any branch location of America’s First
  • You can print and mail your opt-in notice to P.O. Box 11349, Birmingham, Alabama 35202
  • Opt in online
  • Contact our call center at 1-800-633-8431 or (205) 320-4000
  • If you are applying to open an account online, select “Yes” to the question “Do you want America’s First to authorize and pay overdrafts on your everyday debit card transactions?”
  • Regardless of how you choose to opt-in it will only take a few minutes.

Do I have to opt-in to Courtesy Pay for other transactions?
The new federal regulations do not affect overdrafts or Courtesy Pay transactions involving checks, ACH, or bill pay transactions.

How do I opt-out of Courtesy Pay?
You may opt-out of Courtesy Pay for point of sale transactions at any time by giving us written, electronic or verbal notice. Once we receive your opt-out instructions, point of sale transactions that exceed the available balance in your checking account will be declined. You may also opt out of Courtesy Pay for checks and ACH transactions by giving us written, electronic or verbal instructions.

Once we receive your opt-out instructions, any checks or ACH transactions that are presented for payment will be returned unpaid. If you choose to notify us in writing, you may mail it to our call center at P.O. Box 11349, Birmingham, Alabama 35202 or in person at any America’s First branch location.

Will you still offer free checking?
It is still our intention to offer the most valuable checking account product available, with no monthly fees and a program that allows you to earn reward points with every purchase you make with your debit card.

The bottom line: America’s First always wants you to keep your checking account balanced in order to avoid overdrafts altogether. Your first “line of defense” against overdrafts should be an Overdraft Protection Line of Credit. If you do not already have an Overdraft Line of Credit, establish one today. You can apply at any branch or call us at 1-800-633-8431. Finally, we recommend that you “opt-in” to Courtesy Pay for debit transactions in order to avoid the embarrassment and hassle of being declined at a merchant.

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