DON'T O.D. ON OVERDRAFT

Bounced a few checks lately? The Federal Reserve recently OK'd controversial and expensive "bounce-protection plans" for low-income customers who don't qualify for traditional overdraft credit lines. But instead of charging interest on the money advanced, these accounts levy flat fees as high as $30 for each check covered. In interest terms, that can amount to astronomical rates; if you pay a $30 fee to cover a $50 check for three days, it's like paying interest at an annualized rate higher than 7,000 percent. Consumer groups had hoped the Fed would block these plans, but they didn't.

So block it yourself. Shop for a bank that will give you a traditional credit line with market interest rates to cover bounced checks. If you can't get one, deposit a $100 cushion into your account and then forget it's there. And learn to balance that checkbook.

DON'T O.D. ON OVERDRAFT | News