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FAQs about Regulation E and Overdraft Protection Services

The information below is part of Regulation E, which is a federal regulation that requires us to decline any overdrafts on your checking account that are caused by debit card or ATM transactions -- unless you give us permission to pay them. If you decide you want us to cover these transactions, you can opt-in to what we call Overdraft Privilege Plus. This means that you authorize us to cover overdrafts caused by ATM and one-time debit card transactions and charge you our standard overdraft fees of $30 each time we pay an overdraft.

1. What is an available balance?

The amount of money in your account you have available to spend. For instance, if you use your debit card for a purchase and the transaction was authorized by the bank, it reduces your available balance, the amount you have left to spend. 

2. What is a ledger (actual) balance?

It is the amount of money that is actually in your account at any given time. This balance does not include any transactions that have been authorized but are still pending and have not yet been deducted. 

3. What is the difference between available balance and ledger (actual) balance?

If your ledger balance and available balance are both $100, and you swipe your debit card at a restaurant for $35, a hold is placed on your account and your available balance will be reduced to $65. Your ledger balance is still $100 because the transaction has been authorized but is still pending and has not been deducted from your account.

4. What is a debit card authorization?

When you use your debit card without entering your PIN or you sign your name on a receipt, the merchants send us the amount, usually the purchase total, for authorization. This amount is placed on hold and removed from your available balance immediately. The hold is released after approximately 72 hours or when the transaction is deducted from your account, whichever comes first. The hold helps determine the available balance on your account. 

5. Will debit card authorization holds apply to all of my purchases?

No, the holds apply to debit card transactions when you sign your name or do not enter a PIN. Debit and ATM transactions made with PINs subtract the funds immediately from your account (unless you are using your PIN at pay-at-the-pump). 

6. How are transactions deducted from my account?

There are two main types of transactions that occur in your account, a credit or a debit. Credits are money that is put into your account, while debits are money that is taken out of your account. We may receive multiple deposit and withdrawal transactions on your account in many different forms throughout the day. This means you may be charged more than one overdraft fee if we pay multiple transactions when your account is overdrawn. 

In general, ATM and debit card items are withdrawn from your account first, followed by: cashed checks, checks you write that are cashed by other customers of First Citizens, telephone transfers, withdrawals, and ACH debits. If you have multiple debit card items in any given day, they will be withdrawn from the smallest to the largest amounts. Many factors affect this order, so your available balance may fluctuate throughout the day.

In some cases, we will not make all of the funds that you deposit by check available to you on the first business day after the day of your deposit. Depending on the type of check, funds may not be available until the second business day. The first $200 of your deposit may be available on the first business day after your deposit. If we are not going to make all of the funds from your deposit available on the first business day, we will notify you at the time of deposit. We will also tell you when the funds will be available. Additionally, there may be extended holds on checks deposited in one day totaling over $5,000. These funds may be subject to an extended hold of up to nine business days, depending on several factors. Thus, your available balance may not reflect the most recent deposits to your account. For additional information on when your deposited funds will be available for withdrawal, see our Funds Availability Policy.

7. What is an overdraft?

An overdraft occurs when you do not have enough money in your account to cover a transaction, but we pay it anyway. We pay overdrafts at our discretion, which means we do not guarantee that we will always authorize and pay any type of transaction. If we do not authorize and pay it, your transaction will be declined.

8. Does my account already come with overdraft protection?

Yes, we do have standard overdraft practices that come with most consumer checking accounts. This is called Overdraft Privilege Service. We do authorize and pay for the following transactions:

a. Checks and other transactions made using your checking account number
b. Automatic bill payments

We do not authorize and pay overdrafts made by everyday debit card transactions or ATM transactions unless you give us permission. 

9. What if I want you to authorize and pay overdrafts I may make by using my debit card or with an ATM transaction?

You can opt-in to our Overdraft Privilege Plus program in any of the following ways:

a. Stop in to any First Citizens Bank location and see a Personal Banker

b. Call the First Citizens Bank location nearest you and ask to speak to a Personal Banker

c. Email a Personal Banker and tell them you’d like to opt-in

d. Mail a completed form to the First Citizens Bank location nearest you

10. Will I be charged a fee for this?

If you do not overdraw your account, you will not pay a fee. If you do overdraw your account, a fee of $35 is charged for each overdraft. The total amount of fees we can charge for overdrafts is limited to $150 per day on a consumer account. 

11. I’ve overdrawn my account and you’ve charged me a fee. Now what?

If your account is not brought to a positive balance within 35 days, the Overdraft Privilege will be suspended.

12. What if I want to opt-out of having overdrafts?

Please contact a Personal Banker at any of our First Citizens Bank locations to Opt-Out. You may call, stop in, email, or send us a letter at any of our locations to Opt-Out. 

13. Is Overdraft Privilege Plus the only way to have my debit card transactions authorized?

No. You can also have an automatic transfer from another deposit account at our bank (some fees may apply) or apply for a line of credit loan (annual fee and interest may apply).

14. I already have a line of credit loan and/or automatic transfers. Which of these will apply to my account first?

If you have not listed an order of importance with your Personal Banker, the default order is based on which type of service you opened first. The one opened first will apply first, followed by the second service you opened (if applicable). Overdraft Privilege Service will apply last. To change the order in which these apply to your account, talk with a Personal Banker.