It’s a common (and frustrating) experience to have to pay a fee when you access your cash at an out-of-network ATM.
Currently, this kind of transaction will cost you $4.66 on average. When you are just trying to get $20 to buy an old book at a flea market or to buy some street food, that can be a lot!
To better understand ATM fees and avoid paying them, read on. You’ll learn typical costs and smart ways to dodge those extra charges and keep more of your hard-earned cash.
Common ATM Fees
Bank account holders typically pay no fees for using in-network ATMs, whether you’re dipping your card or doing a cardless withdrawal. However, these machines may not always be conveniently located.
Indeed, more than half of ATMs today are owned and serviced by independent operators and their affiliates — not banks. If you use an out-of-network ATM, you could end up paying a fee to your bank, as well as a fee to the ATM operator.
So how much are ATM fees? Here are some typical charges for using an ATM:
This fee can be charged by your bank for using a non-branded or non-partner ATM. It’s kind of like going to a doctor that’s not on your insurance plan — you might be able to do it, but it could be more expensive.
On average, this charge accounts for about $1.52 of the total fee, according to Bankrate. The fee can apply to any type of transaction performed at an ATM, including withdrawals, transfers, and even balance inquiries. Typically, you won’t be told about such fees at any time during your ATM transaction.
This one comes from the ATM owner, and is often labeled as a “convenience charge.” The average U.S. surcharge currently runs $3.14. However, surcharges can vary by state and venue, and you may encounter higher amounts in places where ATMs are in greater demand.
If you’re at an entertainment venue or theme park in a popular tourist destination, for instance, you could pay considerably more.
When using an ATM that isn’t part of your bank’s network of machines, the machine usually notifies you about a fee charged by the bank or company that operates the ATM.
Foreign ATM Fees
Traveling overseas can come with even more watch-outs, such as foreign transaction fees on both purchases and ATM withdrawals.
When using an ATM in a foreign country, you can incur a fee of around 1% to 3% of the transaction amount. Some financial institutions, however, have no foreign transaction fees, and can be worth looking at if you frequently travel overseas.
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What Are Average ATM Fees?
As mentioned above, ATM fees can take a bite out of your money. Here are specifics on how much ATMs charge, as of the end of 2022:
• The average out-of-network fee that a bank charges its customers is $1.52.
• The average surcharge by the ATM’s owner/operator when you use an out-of-network terminal is $3.14.
• The total average out-of-network fee is the sum of these two numbers, or $4.66 per transaction.
5 Tips to Avoid ATM Fees
If having to pay money to access your money grinds your gears, there’s some good news — it is possible to avoid ATM fees or at least encounter them less frequently.
Here are some strategies:
1. Scouting out ATMs in Advance
Finding out where your financial institution’s in-network ATMs are located in your area, or where you are traveling to, can save you money and hassle. These may be ATMs branded with the institution’s name and logo, or in a network of partner ATMs, such as Allpoint or Star. You can research this on your bank’s website or app.
2. Getting Extra Cash When You Use an ATM
Fees are typically charged per transaction, so one way to avoid charges is to withdraw more cash than you need whenever you go to the ATM, and then keep it in a safe place. This can yield significant savings when you are traveling overseas, where surcharges can be significantly higher than domestic ATM fees. You may want to keep in mind, however, that there are usually some ATM withdrawal limits.
3. Asking for Cash Back at the Register
Many retailers and convenience stores offer cash back when you make a purchase using your debit card. This can be a convenient way to get cash without paying an ATM fee. It can be a good idea, however, to make sure that neither the retailer, nor your bank charges a cash-back fee.
4. Switching to a Different Bank
Not all banks charge out-of-network ATM fees. If you’re getting hit with fees, especially double fees, you may want to consider switching to an institution that has a larger ATM network, doesn’t charge ATM fees, and/or refunds ATM fees charged by machine providers.
Online vs. traditional banks often have generous policies regarding ATM fees. They typically don’t have their own ATM networks, but will partner with large networks and may refund some fees charged by out-of-network ATM providers.
5. Using a Peer-to-Peer Payment App
With a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment app, like Venmo, or a similar service offered by your financial institution, you can easily pay your friends without cash with just a few taps on your phone -– and avoid a trip to the ATM entirely. And mobile payment can be safe, instead of carrying cash.
Banking With SoFi
One way to avoid ATM fees is to bank with a financial institution that has a robust network of cash machines, like SoFi.
Interested in opening an online bank account? When you sign up for a SoFi Checking and Savings account with direct deposit, you’ll get a competitive annual percentage yield (APY), pay zero account fees, and enjoy an array of rewards, such as access to the Allpoint Network of 55,000+ fee-free ATMs globally. Qualifying accounts can even access their paycheck up to two days early.
How can you avoid ATM fees?
There are a few ways to avoid ATM fees: You could bank at a financial institution with a large network of cash machines; you could use a P2P app; you could get cash back at the register; or you might take out more cash in advance, among other strategies.
Are ATM fees worth it?
Whether ATM fees are worth it will depend on the circumstances. If you need cash badly, you might not mind paying a few dollars. But often, people don’t want to spend money to access their money.
Are ATM fees higher at airports?
ATMs may be more expensive at airports. For instance, not all banks or ATM networks are represented at airports. You may have a hard time finding yours and therefore have to use an out-of-network cash machine. In addition, some popular locations, from airports to theme parks to casinos, have been known to have higher than usual fees.
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