This guide will cover everything you need to know about low balances. The guide will explain what a low balance alert is, and why they may be useful for you. It will explain why your balance may be lower than you think it is – and the difference between an available balance and your actual balance.

If you have ever looked at your balance and thought ‘how did my available balance get so low?’ this is the guide for you.

What is a low balance alert?

A low balance alert is a reminder that your balance has dropped below a certain amount. Some accounts will let you set this amount yourself, whilst others can predict this for you. For example, NatWest will check your account every day, and if your account balance is below the amount you specified, they will send you a text. Some financial planning apps, like Portify, use machine learning to predict when your spending will drop below your available balance.

Why is it good to have mobile low balance alerts?

Low balance alerts can help you avoid any unnecessary fees. These fees could come from an overdraft i.e. you get charged for being ‘overdrawn’, or from being charged for payments that have been refused or ‘bounced’. A low balance alert can also alert you to suspicious activity on your account. 

A low balance alert will also help you plan financially. If you know when the funds in your account are low, you can plan better, especially if this happens before all essential bills have been paid. Knowing sooner rather than later is always better.

Why is my available balance so low?

You may look at your balance and think it should be higher, or it may be different to your current balance. Your current balance shows what is on your account at that specific moment in time. However, if you have made payments, either for bills or purchases, and the money hasn’t left your account yet it is called a ‘pending transaction’. Your available balance is simply your current balance minus the total amount in pending transactions. 

Once the transactions have been processed your current balance and available balance should once again be the same. You can see any previous transactions in your transaction history.

What is an automatic low balance predictor?

An automatic low balance predictor is a feature that notifies you when your projected spending is due to go over the available balance in your account. Rather than having to specify a fixed amount, the Portify app will estimate your spending and warn you if you are in danger of being overdrawn. 

Screenshot of the automatic low balance predictor message from Portify's UK credit builder app

If you are managing multiple income streams it can be difficult to keep on top of your balance. For delivery drivers, gig workers, or the self-employed there are often multiple sources of income coming in at different times. If you have multiple income streams, your balance may decrease at different times of the month. That is why we have created a low balance predictor that automatically looks forward and estimates based on your previous transaction history. 

Learn more about the Portify low balance predictor here.

Banks offering free low balance alerts

Many banks offer free alerts. The table below summarises the bank and the alerts they offer: 

BankFree alert
Barclays Text 
In-App notifications 
Halifax Text
Citi Text 
In-app notifications 
Royal Bank of Scotland Text 
In-app notifications 
HSBC Text 

If you would like to add another bank or service send us a message of who we missed! Contact us via Facebook, Instagram, or email: [email protected].


Lauren Robson is the digital communications manager at Portify.
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