Paying an ATM fee is one of those necessary evils that hits a universal nerve. No one wants to give their hard-earned money to another bank—or even worse, a nondescript convenience-store machine—just to get access to their own cash. And to make matters worse, some customers are charged twice—once by the ATM they’re using and once by the bank that issued the card.
How much are ATM fees? In 2017, they averaged at just under $3 per transaction . That may not seem like much at first blush, but the typical ATM is used 300 times per month , and 40% of users make eight to ten transactions each month.
If they’re not using their bank’s ATM, that $5 can turn into $50. For someone on a budget or working hard to save, that hurts. And while ATM providers aren’t likely to stop charging fees to use their machines—we have some tips that could help you avoid paying them.
Whenever possible, consider planning in advance for those times you know you’ll need cash. If you know you might need cash to cover parking or other costs associated with events like camping, concerts, sports games, or fairs, you can make a stop at your bank’s ATM before you head out.
That way you can avoid being up-charged at an ATM at the venue or campground. Some restaurants and bakeries still operate as cash-only businesses, so if you’re testing out a new spot, check the website so you’re prepared with cash if needed.
Using Your Bank’s ATMs
Take some time to familiarize yourself with your bank’s closest ATM locations. Start with its website or app for a location finder, or utilize a general web search or even your phone’s maps app.
It goes without saying that the big, national banks have more options for branded ATMs than smaller, regional institutions, but banks of all sizes partner with ATM networks in order to expand their customers’ options and provide them a fee-free banking experience.
Finding Partner ATMs
The biggest advantage of partnership networks is the potentially vast number of fee-free ATM locations available. Some of the world’s largest networks boast access to more than 60,000 ATMs in locations like convenience stores, pharmacies, and retailers.
The bank’s customers are able to perform transactions without fees from the bank, and some locations don’t collect ATM surcharges.
The easiest way to find your bank’s partners is to check the back of your debit card. If you see a logo for
Allpoint , for example, you can search their app for the closest locations.
This doesn’t automatically mean that your transaction will be entirely fee-free, but either your bank or the partner may waive charges. Check with your bank for details.
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Taking Out More Than You Need
Fees are typically per transaction, so one easy way to potentially avoid multiple charges is to withdraw more cash than you need. This is particularly true when traveling overseas, where surcharges can be significantly higher than domestic ATM fees.
Getting Cash Back
Answering “yes” to the ubiquitous question, “Do you want cash back?” is one of the most convenient ways to get cash without incurring fees. Though of course, you should make sure neither your bank nor the retailer charges a cash back fee.
Many retailers and convenience stores offer cash back, and even if it means having to buy a pack of gum so you can get cash, it still may be cheaper than paying an ATM fee.
Using Personal Payment Apps to Pay Your Friends
Friends paying cash back and forth is a tradition likely as old as money itself, but the way it’s done has changed dramatically with the advent of personal payment apps.
Apps like Venmo can be set up to sync with your financial institution and allow you to move money directly from your account to your friends’. It’s become increasingly popular over the past few years, and some traditional banks are even starting to offer a similar service.
Opening a Fee-Free Checking Account
Checking and savings accounts that offer ATM-fee reimbursement, either up to a certain limit per month or unlimited, are becoming increasingly popular and may pave the way to change the surcharge game.
A recent survey found that 71% of ATM users reported doing “anything they can to avoid ATM fees ,” and financial institutions are starting to take notice—including us.
Here at SoFi, we hate ATM fees too.
That’s why SoFi Money®, a cash management account, has no account fees and you’ll receive unlimited ATM fee reimbursement— even internationally (fee structure subject to change).
SoFi Money allows you to spend, save, and earn all in one product.
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SoFi Money is a cash management account, which is a brokerage product, offered by SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . Neither SoFi nor its affiliates is a bank.