December 17 2009|10.09 AM UTC

Stan Reybern

ATMs: The Hidden Cost of Convenience

Category: Personal FinanceTags: , , , , , ,

ATM fees were not originally passed on to bank customers, but banks have transformed convenience fees into big business. Here’s a look at how the ATM machines and networks have become sophisticated money makers for banks and how you can avoid contributing your hard-earned money to this $2 billion per year segment of the banking industry.

(click to enlarge)

ATM Fees

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve December 17, 2009 at 6:55 pm

The Hidden Cost of Convenience? Hidden? The ATM fee is very visible to the individual drawing money. If you don’t want to pay the few dollar fee, don’t use an ATM.


kooperg December 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm

This is just sick.
I know the banks in Europe are planning for this also. They have already been warning the public that their atm’s are expensive, that they, especially now, need to make money, etc.
400.000 cash machines x 15.000 us$ = yearly cost of us$ 6 billion.
And they are making only 2 billion? How does that compute? And, whilst being in the states, i paid upto 4 dollars for withdrawal (maybe just because my euro-bankcard?). for about 250million people to pay 1.50 to 2 dollars for something that’s done (i guess) at least once a week = 250.000.000 x 2 x 52 = ~20 billion

i might be off a little bit, but the figures just don’t add up afaics.


PatrickAllan December 17, 2009 at 7:23 pm

ATM machines – really? (From the department of redundancy department)


Yo December 18, 2009 at 1:16 am

7-11 has free ATMs. If your bank doesn’t charge (or credit union in my case) then ATMs are still free.


Marcus December 18, 2009 at 4:03 am

“Get a bank, like E*Trade, that will reimburse you for ATM fees.”

A better option is to move your money to a credit union. Most don’t charge fees for you to use their ATMs, and some don’t charge anyone at all. Credit unions are vastly superior to banks in every conceivable way.


Matty December 18, 2009 at 8:28 am

I use PNC Bank. They let you use ANY atm for free. (well they charge you but then everything gets reimbursed)


joe blow December 18, 2009 at 9:21 am

argument is flawed.
as credit/check/debit card usage goes up, ‘cash’ useage declines.
why go to the atm for cash when every place takes cards?


Not an idiot December 18, 2009 at 9:24 am

So making money for providing a service is a bad thing?


drklassen December 18, 2009 at 10:20 am

ATM, not ATM Machine — it’s redundant. Worse would be to talk of folks punching their PIN number into the ATM machine.


gogowisco December 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

So what banks charge the least to use other bank’s atms?


commonsense December 18, 2009 at 11:06 am

Here is the best way to avoid atm fees:
Get a credit card and use it to pay for stuff. Only use the credit card if you have enough money to pay the balance off. If you always pay the balance off you never pay interest. This should be no problem because when using a bank card you have to have the money in the bank to begin with so why not treat a credit card the same way. Always have enough to pay the balance off at the end of the month.


Carl Winslow December 18, 2009 at 11:16 am

Some banks will charge you a fee just for looking up a balance from a separate branch’s ATM MACHINE. Citizens Bank does this.


Common Sense December 18, 2009 at 11:24 am

Credit Unions. Problem Solved. You are welcome :)


Tyler December 18, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Out here in Nor Cal, we use The Mechanics Bank, and just like Marcus mentioned above not only do they not charge you to use their ATM’s they even refund other banks’ ATM fees!!! Now that’s what I call service. Also, when you call to check your balance you get a real person–from the US!!! Oh my, it feels like the 1950′s, sometimes i get all aflush!


Tongboy December 18, 2009 at 12:11 pm

ATM’s can frequently cost more then 50 thousand – the full function (multiple cash acceptance and check scanning) ATM’s like the newer Diebold & NCR machines can come close to a hundred thousand dollars before the software licensing & customization/profesional service costs.

most banks & financial institutions refer to “off-us” transactions as “non on-us” transactions (an “on-us” transaction being one originated from their device or teller to your account at their company.)

Banks & credit unions LOVE atms becuase as said in the article they aer profitable but also becuase they allow a point of presence for a substantial amount less then even a small branch – ATMs require staff but nothing like a teller.


Hakuna Matata December 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm

250,000,000 do not use ATMs once per week. I use them about once every 2 months or so and I only use the ones from my bank at no charge. I pay fees for ATM usage about 2 or 3 times a year at a total cost of a maximum $15.

The prices are clear and the benefits are clear. Banks are squeezing their customers in many ways, but this is not one of them.


GomiBushi December 18, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Where I am at we are lot more civilized, or perhaps consumers are just smarter.

Most banks still charge fees for ATM use, but more and more use “internet banks” that are basically fee-less in all respects, except for the annual VISA fee.

And all allow you to withdraw for free in ALL stores, as long as the stores have the cash on hand.

Demand more of your banks. Change bank, or get screwed.


Eric December 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Stop passing on the myth that paying with a card saves you from fees.

You don’t see it but the store gets charged 30 cents + 1-3% for each card transaction, they are not allowed to charge you extra for using a card, so they put everybodys prices up to cover people who use cards.

The more people who pay with a card, the higher cost to the store, the higher price you pay for goods.


mike December 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm

banks in the UK dropped atm fees after a large backlash for proposed fee increases.

americans must enjoy getting taken.


Jerome December 23, 2009 at 7:40 am

Four hundred thousand ATMs, twelve thousand maintenance cost per year. That makes 5 billion in costs to recover each year. The fact that only 2 billion of this is recouped from customers might tell us something about whether charges are reasonable or not… nothing is free… especially for banks.


sean September 23, 2010 at 7:56 am

Jerome – ATMs save the bank money because it allows them to have less tellers and branches. Tellers are a lot more than $12k / year.


Rick December 23, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Use Etrade and you’ll loose a lot more than ATM fees


Haitham December 25, 2009 at 4:45 am

here in Jordan you’ll pay about $0.71 if you use an ATMs for another bank


Andrew January 1, 2010 at 9:16 am

They started doing this here in the UK, then there was a massive public campaign against it and all banks dropped charges from their ATMs.

Independently run ATMs at stores etc. usually charge but all bank ATMs are free to withdraw from.

People power works!


Darkus January 3, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Marcus – you are full of it. Credit Unions are not “vastly superior to banks in every conceivable way”. For example, I, with perfect credit, was offered 6.00% APR by my CU. Then Wachovia offered me 5.25, a substantial savings over 5 years. They do some “smaller” aspects better, but online banking and loans are a sore spot for me.


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