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How to Avoid ATM Fees

ATM Fees

It’s free to withdraw cash at your bank’s branches or from one of the ATMs in its network, buy you usually pay ATM fees when you use an out-of-network ATM. Here are the types of ATM fees you should know about and some things you can do to avoid them.

Types of Fees

When you withdraw cash from an ATM outside of your bank’s network, you are usually subject to two fees. One is the transaction fee, which your bank charges you for using an out-of-network ATM. The second is the surcharge, which the bank that owns the ATM imposes on customers of other banks. Bankrate reports that in 2013, the average transaction fee was $1.53, and the average surcharge was $2.60. If you use out-of-network ATMs a few times a month, you’re paying a significant amount in fees. Consider taking the following steps to avoid ATM fees so you can hold onto that money instead.

Schedule Trips to Your Bank or ATM

Plan on visiting a branch of your bank or one of its ATMs at the same time every week. If you need cash for the weekend, make a habit of stopping by one of your bank’s ATMs on your way home from work on Friday. If your bank has a branch near your home or workplace, you might decide to visit it every Monday and conduct all your banking business at that time, including obtaining cash for the week. Look over your bank statements from the last few months to determine how much you withdraw on average, and estimate how much cash you need each week. Start making weekly withdrawals from your bank or its ATM before you need the cash, not after the need arises. Then when the time comes to spend the money, it’s already in your wallet and you don’t have to use an out-of-network ATM.

Check for In-Network ATMs

Withdrawing money ahead of time should help you cut down on unplanned visits to ATMs, but you may still occasionally have to use an ATM in an unfamiliar area. If this happens, spend a couple minutes checking if there’s an ATM nearby that you could use without paying a fee. Using an ATM locator app or calling your bank to check if you’re close to an ATM in its network can save you money. Even if you’re unable to get online or to contact your bank, don’t settle for the first out-of-network ATM you see. Go to an open business, post office, or information desk and ask if there are any other ATMs in the area.

Ask for Cash Back

You can sometimes request cash back from a store when you purchase an item with your debit card. This allows you to avoid an ATM and its fees. Be forewarned, though, that the store restricts the amount of money you can withdraw this way. The store’s cash back limit is generally lower than the maximum your bank allows you to withdraw from an ATM.

Switch Banks

If you routinely find yourself using out-of-network ATMs, you may be better off switching to a bank that has a larger ATM network or whose ATMs are in more convenient places. Some online banks reimburse customers for ATM fees, so opening an account with one of these banks is another option. It’s a good idea to inquire about all fees before switching to a new bank to make sure the money you save from reduced ATM expenses isn’t offset by higher fees for some other service.

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