Banks are Charging Record Amounts for ATM Use

ATM
ATM fees are rising steadily. | iStock / Getty Images Plus

An ATM provides a quick and convenient way to withdraw money. However, if you decide to use an ATM that’s not within your bank’s network, this can pose some problems. You’ll likely be hit with high fees for using a machine not affiliated with your bank. A recent study conducted by Bankrate found ATM fees for non-customers hit a record high for the 14th consecutive year. Here are some of the survey details.

Key findings

  • The average surcharge assessed by the ATM owner for an out-of-network transaction rose for the 14th year in a row, from $2.97 to $3.02. This is a 53% increase over the last 10 years. Bankrate’s chief financial analyst, Greg McBride, says he expects this fee to continue rising. He says this is because banks generally aren’t worried about alienating non-customers.
  • The fee charged by a customer’s own bank for using another bank’s ATM is roughly $1.66. This makes the total average cost of an out-of-network ATM withdrawal $4.68, down one cent from last year. The total average cost rose 36% over the last 10 years.
  • Some states pay a lot more when it comes to out-of-network ATM fees. One of those states is Detroit, which has the highest average out-of-network ATM fee among the top 25 major metro areas ($5.28). Who has the lowest fee? The lucky state with the lowest average out-of-network ATM fee is St. Louis ($4.25).
  • 41% of non-interest checking accounts are automatically free, down from 73% 10 years ago.

Paying a pretty penny for overdraft fees

The Bankrate study found the average overdraft fee is $33.23, which is the second highest fee on record. Which state has the lowest overdraft fee? According to Bankrate’s findings, when it comes to overdraft fees, it might be time to move to San Francisco. Philadelphia has the highest average overdraft fee ($35.30), and San Francisco has the lowest overdraft fee ($31.44).

Tips for keeping bank fees low:

  • The easiest way to avoid high fees is to use your bank’s ATM. All those fees add up, so take the time to find and use an ATM within your bank’s network. If you plan on traveling, find out beforehand where the nearest in-network ATM is located.
  • Ken Tumin, founder and editor of DepositAccounts.com, told The Cheat Sheet it’s wise to choose a bank that offers free overdraft transfers. An overdraft transfer happens when an overdraft occurs on a checking account and the amount necessary to cover the overdraft is automatically transferred from your savings account to your checking account. It’s common for banks to charge a fee for each overdraft transfer.
  • If you want to avoid overdraft fees, your best bet is to opt out of overdraft protection. The key is to keep tabs on your checking account balance, so you don’t get into trouble. Bankrate suggests signing up for alerts so it’s easier to monitor balances. Also, link your checking and savings accounts so there’s money available if you’re overdrawn.

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