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Updated on Friday, September 11, 2020
Nothing is more frustrating than having to pay a fee simply to access your cash — yet ATM fees run rampant in the banking industry, and they can add up fast. While ATM fees can climb as high as $5, rest assured there are steps you can take to avoid paying them, such as making sure you go to an in-network machine and being selective about your checking account.
This article dives deep into those pesky ATM fees and gives you the lowdown on how to avoid them.
What are ATM fees?
Automated teller machine (ATM) fees are costs you can incur for actions taken at an ATM, including making withdrawals, transfers or balance inquiries.
Typically, ATM fees are levied on customers when they use an out-of-network ATM — meaning an ATM that is not operated by the bank at which they have an account — or if they use an ATM internationally. ATM fees can also be charged by the ATM’s operator, and while your bank might reimburse you for that cost, not all do.
Common types of ATM Fees
There are several types of ATM fees, and while you might not be charged any fees at all, you could incur several at a time. These are the most common types of ATM fees:
- ATM operator fee: If you opt for an ATM that is not operated by your bank or your bank’s network, you can get slapped with an ATM operator fee (sometimes called an ATM surcharge), which typically ranges from $2 to $3. In some cases, these fees can be extremely high, like at entertainment venues and popular tourist locations. You can expect the amount of the ATM operator fee to appear on the ATM’s screen before you continue with your transaction.
- Your bank’s out-of-network ATM fee: Not only do you have to worry about getting hit with a fee from the ATM operator, you can face a fee from your own bank, too. Many banks will charge their customers an out-of-network fee if they use an ATM that is not owned by them or part of their network. These fees tend to range from $1 to $3.50, and are often not shown to you before you make your transaction at the ATM. Instead, you’ll likely find out about the fee when you receive your bank statement.
- Foreign ATM fee: If you are traveling internationally and find yourself needing to use an ATM in a foreign country, be prepared for a potential fee, which may be up to $5. Additionally, banks often slap you with a foreign exchange rate adjustment fee if the transaction or withdrawal you make is not in U.S. currency. This fee tends to range from 1% to 3% of your transaction.
How much are ATM fees?
The cost of out-of-network ATM fees is wide-ranging, typically spanning from $1 to $3.50. Meanwhile, ATM operator fees tend to vary by location.
The table below outlines the out-of-network ATM fees for the biggest banks in the U.S., determined by assets under management. Note that this chart outlines the out-of-network ATM fees that generally apply to the bank’s basic checking account offerings — many of these big banks also offer premium checking account options that allow you to waive out-of-network fees or provide rebates for ATM fees. Don’t forget that on top of the out-network-fee, you may also incur an international fee or a fee levied by the ATM operator.
|Out-of-Network ATM Fees Charged By Banks|
|Bank of America||$2.50|
|The Bank of New York Mellon||None|
|State Street Bank||$1|
|BMO Harris Bank||$2.50|
|First Republic Bank||None|
|Huntington National Bank||$3|
How to avoid ATM fees
While ATM fees are common, there are steps you can take to reduce them or even eliminate many of them altogether. If you’re interested in avoiding ATM fees, consider:
- Opting for an in-network machine: This is the simplest way you can avoid paying an out-of-network ATM fee, and often even an ATM operator fee. Many banks and credit unions offer maps and tools that will show you in-network ATMs near you. Use these resources to your advantage to avoid ATM fees.
- Asking for cash back at stores: When using your debit card at a store, such as a pharmacy or convenience store, you are typically given the option to receive cash back. The amount you request is then deducted from the account linked to your debit card, and you will receive your cash at the cash register without having to pay an ATM fee.
- Being selective about your checking account: If avoiding ATM fees is a top priority for you, take time to research financial institutions and specific accounts that do not charge ATM fees or provide rebates for those fees. There are certainly a number of these bank accounts out there, and we highlight an array of them below. If you prefer credit unions to banks, you should also explore credit unions that are part of the CO-OP network, as they provide fee-free access to a sprawling network of nearly 30,000 ATMs.
Best accounts for no ATM fees
Below you will find our top picks for avoiding ATM fees. To make the cut, these accounts had to either charge no out-of-network ATM fees or provide rebates for fees.
|Bank/account name||ATM fee policy||Monthly service charge||Minimum opening deposit amount|
|Axos Bank Essential Checking||Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements||None||None|
|Radius Bank Rewards Checking or Superhero Checking||Unlimited ATM fee rebates||None||$100|
|E-Trade Bank Max- Rate Checking||Unlimited ATM fee refunds||$15||None|
|TIAA Bank Basic Checking||$15 per month to unlimited ATM fee reimbursements, depending on your balance||$5||$25|
|Ally Bank Interest Checking||$10 per month in ATM fee reimbursements||None||None|
|TD Bank Beyond Checking||Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements if you maintain a daily balance of $2,500||$25||None|