An overdraft is a financial arrangement that allows a bank account holder to withdraw and spend more money than they have in their account, up to an agreed-upon limit. Despite its similarities to a credit agreement, an overdraft is not considered a credit agreement as defined by the National Credit Act (NCA) in South Africa.

The NCA defines a credit agreement as an agreement between a credit provider and a consumer in which the credit provider provides credit to the consumer. Credit is defined as any amount of money lent by a credit provider to a consumer, or any amount of deferred payment owed by a consumer to a credit provider, as well as any other form of financial accommodation.

While an overdraft provides a buffer of additional funds for account holders, it is not considered a credit agreement because the money provided is not considered a loan. The account holder is not borrowing money from the bank or any other financial institution, but instead, the bank is allowing them to spend money that is technically not theirs.

Furthermore, an overdraft is not subject to the same regulations and requirements as credit agreements under the NCA. Credit agreements are subject to mandatory affordability assessments, which ensure that consumers can afford the credit they are receiving and are not at risk of over-indebtedness. Overdrafts, on the other hand, are not subject to such assessments as they are not classified as credit agreements.

However, it is essential to note that overdrafts are not without their own risks. Account holders may be subject to high interest rates and fees if they exceed their agreed-upon overdraft limit or fail to repay the overdraft in a timely manner. Over-reliance on overdrafts can also lead to debt and financial difficulty, which is why it is important for account holders to use overdraft facilities responsibly and only in emergencies.

In conclusion, while overdrafts may seem similar to credit agreements, they are not considered as such under the NCA in South Africa. Account holders should be aware of the differences between the two and use their overdraft facilities responsibly to avoid financial difficulty.