James Ready of Des Moines knows it's not smart to pay $34 overdraft charge for a trip to a convenience store that only cost him $6originally, but like many other Americans, overdraft fees got the better of him -to the tune of hundreds of dollars.

They kept coming and they kept coming, overdraft charge after overdraft charge, he said.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, each year Americans pay $23.7 billion in overdraft fees, but starting July 1, if you open an account at any bank or credit union, you have to opt-in for overdraft fee protection.

If you already have an account, banks have until August 15 to get you to opt-in.

So who needs overdraft protection?

Say, you need money in a pinch before payday, the $35 might be a fair price to pay to cover the costs. But it's not for everybody.

James has decided against it and now has another buying strategy.

If it ain't cash in your hand, don't use it.

This new policy does not cover automatic bill payments. So your bank can enroll you in overdraft protection if your mortgage or car payment are deducted automatically from your account. If you change your mind about opting in or out, legally you can change your mind at any time.

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