How To Avoid ATM Fees

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Are you still paying ATM fees? If so, then you’re literally wasting money by giving it to a bank or credit union.

According to one report, out-of-network ATM transactions are costing U.S. consumers hundreds of dollars a year. But the good news is that ATM withdrawal fees can be avoided.

4 Ways You Can Avoid ATM Fees

Money expert Clark Howard famously remembers the last time he paid an ATM fee. It was quite a while ago!

“I have only paid an ATM charge once in 21 years, back in June 1996 in Moab, Utah — and it still eats at me! I can practically remember the very day! But most of my fellow Americans don’t care if they get ripped off with inflated fees for using an ATM as a non-customer.”

If you care about not being charged to access your own money via ATM, check out these steps:

1. Download an ATM Locator App

One of the most convenient ways to find fee-free ATMs is to use the device in the palm of your hand: your smartphone.

Search the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store that show you surcharge-free networks. Yes, there’s an app(s) for that. Here are a few:

2. Use the Right Bank 

Bank with a financial organization that will eat ATM fees for you. Here are a few:

3. Overseas? Skip Currency Exchange at the ATM

Americans who have visited a foreign country recently may have noticed that many ATMs are charging expensive junk fees for currency conversion.

“At the ATM, it will ask whether you want your money converted into dollars or do you want it in the local currency, no matter if it’s Polish money, Czech money, Euro, British pounds, whatever,” Clark says. “If you click U.S. dollars, suddenly you’re paying a transaction junk fee of up to 17.5%.”

The way to avoid paying these super-high junk fees is to tap the correct button at the ATM: Opt to get your money in the local currency — not U.S. dollars, if you can.

On the other hand, if you find an in-network ATM abroad, you should be able to get money out fee-free, but make sure you read any signage posted on the machine that may list any fees.


4. Get Money Back at Checkout

Many grocery stores will let you get hundreds of dollars at the checkout, fee-free, Clark says. This also helps the stores, because it cuts down the amount of cash they have to process at the end of each day.

For example, Albertsons grocery stores typically allow you to get up to $100 cash back when you check out at the customer service desk, Team Clark has confirmed.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to getting money out of the ATM, Clark wants you to avoid paying fees of any kind.

“Paying an ATM fee to access your own money is reverse bank robbery, plain and simple!” Clark says.

As a recap, here’s how you do it:

  1. Download an ATM locator app.
  2. Use the right bank.
  3. Overseas? Skip ATM currency exchange.
  4. Get money back at checkout.

When it comes to spending, if you can use plastic instead of cash, you can make your money work for you even more.

Want to know how to spend and get cash back? Read our guide on the best cash back credit cards with no annual fee.