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Over the past few years banks across the country have become notorious for over charging their customers when they fail to meet repayment dates or slip slightly over their overdraft limit.

Such penalty fee's are often vastly inflated compared to what it actually costs the banks, and for this reason they have come under much scrutiny from the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) and of course their customers, who over the years have been claiming back such charges.

More recently consumers are being told they are also legally able to claim back similar fees from their credit card providers.

It's important to note, that by law, lenders are allowed to charge you if you fall into unauthorised borrowing or fail to make a required payment on time. This charge should be around £12, to charge any more than this; the lender has to be able to justify such actions.

First things first, responsibility lies solely with you to chase up any charges you think you are owed, as lenders are not going to be falling over themselves to refund you. To start with, it's best to look through your statements as credit card companies tend to simply add such charges within your “new transactions" section.

If you do indeed find such charges then call the lender(s) involved as they may waiver the charge if the processing time of a payment has resulted in the default charge. Also, with the credit market being so competitive, lenders tend to be more interested in keeping hold of their current customers.

It's important to note here that if you are regularly defaulting then it is unlikely you will be given such lenient treatment, and it may be best organising a more manageable payment plan with your lender.

At this stage you should get together proof of your overpayments and mail this to your lender, and follow up this correspondence with a phone call to ensure your claim arrived.

No later than 2 weeks you should have a response which will inform you whether or not you have been given a full or partial refund or no refund at all. If you are not happy with the lenders decision, then advice should be sought from the FSA and taking the case to a small claims court usually finalises the matter fairly.

There are a wealth of credit cards available on the market today, suiting all manner of personal requirements and needs. Using the internet is an excellent source for information and impartial comparison of all UK credit cards .

Lastly, you may find transferring your balance to one of the many 0% credit cards a financially beneficial option.

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