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Updated on Tuesday, November 19, 2019
A new survey of over 1,000 Americans by MagnifyMoney, a LendingTree company, found that Americans hate ATM fees even more than such widely despised charges as airline fees and shipping surcharges.
Despite ATM fees being America’s most hated fee, they are completely avoidable—it just takes a little legwork. We’ll even show you how easy it can be to skip out on your least favorite fee.
- Nearly 27% of respondents said they hate ATM fees more than any other fee—earning them the title as the most hated fee in the land.
- The second most hated fee is the dreaded bank overdraft fee (22%), followed by credit card annual fees (7%).
- Unsurprisingly, ATM fees are also the most commonly paid fees, with 37% of respondents having paid one or more in the last year.
- Millennials and Midwesterners are most likely to fork over money to pay an ATM fee.
- The second most commonly paid fee was a bank overdraft fee (18%), followed by shipping fees (15%).
- Most people (76%) are willing to drive further out of their way to skip ATM fees. Nearly one in 10 would drive more than 10 miles out of their way to find an in-network ATM. However, most would only go one to five miles (48%) or six to 10 miles (19%) out of the way.
The top three most hated fees: ATM, overdraft and credit card fees
Out of all the annoying fees Americans get slapped with—from shipping fees to baggage fees to convenience fees for event tickets—people have the most aversion to ATMs fees.
One reason could be the staggering number of Americans who were forced to pay a surcharge to access their own cash. Our survey found that 37% of Americans have paid an ATM fee — either charged by the bank for out-of-network ATM use or by the ATM owner — in the past year, and 35% have paid one in the past month. Millennials and Midwesterners were the groups that incurred ATM fees the most often.
We found that the second most hated fee was bank overdraft charges, with 22% of Americans saying they hate those fees the most, followed by 7% who despise credit card annual fees the most. Interestingly, a whopping 18% of Americans were charged with an overdraft fee in the past year, while 13% paid a credit card annual fee.
While airline fees tend to get a bad rep, the number of Americans who hate those surcharges the most pales in comparison to those who hate financial fees: Only 7% of Americans hate airline baggage fees the most, 3% airline seat selection fees, and just 1% airline flight change fees.
What people do to avoid fees
Our survey reveals that most people would make a serious effort to avoid paying an ATM fees: Nearly half say they would drive between one to five miles to avoid an ATM fee, while one in 10 would really go the distance and over 10 miles to free themselves of an ATM fee. Not everyone is willing to put in the extra effort, though: A surprising 24% of Americans would not drive any distance to avoid an ATM fee.
Many Americans enroll in overdraft protection to avoid extra bank fees. In many cases, overdraft protection programs are effective shields against overdraft fees. It’s not surprising that since overdraft fees are the second most hated types of fees, nearly half of Americans are enrolled in some sort of protection plan. Other courses of action Americans took to avoid paying a fee included not signing up for a credit card with an annual fee (24%), making a purchase in-store instead of online (19%) and bringing only carry-on luggage (15%).
How to avoid paying ATM fees
While ATM fees are widely disliked, they are also completely avoidable. It might take a little bit of effort and inconvenience, but if you really don’t want to pay to access your own cash, there are simple steps you can take. For example:
- Utilize your bank’s mobile app. Many of them have tools to help you find nearby in-network ATMs.
- Next time you are paying with your debit card at a store, ask for cash back instead of using an ATM.
- Consider a credit union that’s part of the CO-OP network. You’ll get fee-free access to nearly 30,000 ATMs.
- Explore banks that reimburse you for ATM fees.
The best banks for people that hate ATM fees
A number of banks, particularly online banks, offer incentives that reduce or eliminate out-of-network ATM fees. If ATM fees are the bane of your existence (or if you just want to avoid paying cash to access your own cash), these banks could be a good fit for you.
|Bank / account||ATM fee policy|
|E* TRADE Max-Rate Checking Account||Unlimited ATM fee refunds. Must maintain an average monthly balance of $5,000 to waive $15 monthly fee.|
|Axos Bank Essential Checking account||Unlimited domestic ATM fee reimbursements.|
|TIAA Bank Yield Pledge Checking account||Monthly reimbursement up to $15 for U.S. ATM fees. Unlimited reimbursement for accounts with an average daily balance of $5,000.|
|State Farm Bank Checking and Interest Checking accounts||Unlimited ATM fee reimbursement if direct deposit has been made to account during statement cycle. Or, if no deposit has been made, up to $10 ATM fee reimbursement per statement cycle.|
|Radius Bank Rewards Checking, Champion Checking, Superhero Checking and Hybrid Checking accounts||Unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.|
|Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account||Unlimited ATM fee rebates.|
|Ally Bank||Up to $10 ATM fee reimbursement per statement cycle.|
|First Republic Bank ATM Rebate Checking account||Unlimited ATM fee rebates. Must maintain a minimum average balance of $3,500 to waive $25 monthly service fee.|
Fee information is accurate as of November 5, 2019.
For this survey, MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,028 Americans. The survey was fielded September 11-13, 2019, with the sample base proportioned to represent the general population.