The French are increasingly turning to overdrafts, according to a banking survey.

A survey of savers, by pollsters CSA, found that as well using them, more people preferred to have overdraft options on their accounts in case of emergency.

It also found an increasing number of people preferred to become overdrawn for short periods rather than raid their savings accounts to make up the balance in their current account.

One in two people said they used their overdraft at least once a year, with one in five using it once a month according to the survey.

Many of the financial problems associated with overdrafts do not come from the overdrafts themselves (which can be free for some accounts), but with the fees associated with going over their limits.

A spokesman for Crédit Agricole said: "A decade ago this only concerned people who could not pay back their debts. Today we find more and more retirees and poor workers."

Rising costs of essentials such as housing and energy payments were behind many of these cases said the spokesman.