ATM fees are one of several types of bank charges that can eat into your account balance over time if you don’t watch them.
There are two fees that may be associated with withdrawing from an ATM outside of your bank’s network: an ATM owner surcharge and an out-of-network fee from your bank or credit union. The average surcharge is $3.08 and the average out-of-network fee is $1.51, according to Bankrate’s Current Accounts and ATM Fees Study 2021.
Although the total cost of an ATM withdrawal has fallen slightly from previous years, fees can still add up. They’re preventable — or at least reducible — though, if you take a few simple steps.
Ways to Avoid ATM Fees
Get cash back
When you checkout at a grocery store or other retailer, you’ll usually have the option of earning cash back with the purchase. To get cash back, pay with a prepaid or debit card and enter your personal identification number (PIN). The PINpad will ask you to either select an amount or enter the amount you wish to cash back, to be withdrawn from the account associated with the card. Getting cash back from a store is usually free of charge.
Find ATMs in the network
When using an out-of-network ATM, you may be hit with a surcharge from the bank that owns the ATM, as well as charges from your bank for using an ATM that is not part of its network. As such, sticking to networked ATMs is an easy way to avoid these costs.
An ATM owned by your bank or credit union, or part of the bank’s partner ATM network (such as Allpoint or MoneyPass), will not charge out-of-network fees. To find an ATM in the network, try using an ATM locator on the bank’s mobile app or on its website.
Go digital with a payment app
In many cases where you would normally use cash, it is possible to go digital instead. Then you do not need to withdraw money from an ATM at all. For example, some service providers, such as hairdressers, may accept tips through digital payment providers, such as Venmo or Zelle. Some retailers may also accept payment for goods through these peer-to-peer payment apps. Just be sure to check beforehand that your preferred payment app is accepted by the merchant.
Withdraw larger sums, less frequently
It is beneficial to make fewer withdrawals from out-of-network ATMs, as each withdrawal will incur a fee. You can withdraw larger sums of money in one visit to the ATM to prepare for cash spending in advance.
Keep in mind that there are ATM withdrawal limits, however. The maximum amount you can withdraw from an ATM varies by bank and ATM, but generally ranges between $500 and $1,000 per day.
Open an account that reimburses fees
There are many banks and credit unions that offer checking accounts with no ATM fees or ATM fee refunds. Many of them are online banks only.
Some financial institutions reimburse fees up to a certain amount each month, such as Alliant Credit Union, which reimburses up to $20 per month in ATM fees for Alliant Visa debit card users. The cashier states that refunds are deposited into the customer’s account at the end of the day.
Other banks may even offer unlimited ATM refunds. Axos Bank, for example, offers unlimited refunds at domestic ATMs for Axos Rewards checking account holders. LendingClub also reimburses all ATM surcharges for its current account by crediting them back to customers at the end of each statement cycle.
At the end of the line
Getting money from an out-of-network ATM and paying the average total ATM withdrawal fee just twice a month would cost you $110.16 in fees in a year. But doing something as simple as finding ATMs in your bank or credit union’s network could help you save on fees.
There’s no single way to minimize ATM fees, but there are several strategies depending on how you prefer to bank and your cash needs. When possible, going digital using a payment app can save a trip to the ATM and a few dollars in fees. Also check with your bank if they already offer ATM fee refunds.