This Mistake at the ATM Could Be Costing You More Than $240 a Year

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Doing a transaction at an out-of-network ATM is costing Americans an average of $3.14, which is more than it ever has before.

That’s according to the latest Checking Account and ATM Fee Study from which was compiled from surveying 245 banks and thrifts across 25 U.S. markets.

Non-Customers Paying Record Amount in ATM Fees per Transaction

That $3.14 figure represents the 21st time in the past 24 years that the average surcharge has set a record, according to Bankrate.

Here are some key findings from Bankrate’s Checking Account and ATM Fee Study:

  • The average overdraft fee has fallen to $29.80, constituting a 13-year-low and an 11% drop from the previous year, which was an all-time high.
  • The average nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee has decreased to $26.58, the lowest in 19 years when it was $25.81.
  • The number of free checking accounts is down 2% to 46% compared to the previous year, “although 99% of noninterest checking accounts are either free or can become free when certain requirements are met,” says the study.

How Much Are You Paying for ATM Fees?

Average fee assessed by the machine owner for using an ATM out of your network$3.14
Average fee assessed by your bank for using an ATM out of your network $1.52

At the rate above, if you withdraw money just once a week from an out-of-network ATM, you’d end up paying $242.32 in a year!

Team Clark and money expert Clark Howard want you to steer clear of bank fees by only doing business with financial institutions that avoid junk fees and offer the best free checking accounts.

3 Ways To Avoid ATM Fees

With a little forethought, you can find ways to sidestep those ATM fees and keep more of your money. Here are some ways to avoid ATM fees.

1. Join a Fee-Free Bank

Clark says one way to steer clear of ATM fees is to open accounts with banks that eat the fees for you or give you a certain number of free withdrawals.

“A couple of examples are USAA and Charles Schwab,” Clark says. “Plus, many of the credit unions that have large co-op networks offer free ATMs.”

2. Withdraw at Your Local Supermarket

Many supermarkets will give you hundreds of dollars at the register, 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 allow you to get up to $100 cash back when you check out, Team Clark has confirmed.

3. Download an ATM Locator App

One of the most convenient ways to avoid fees is to use an app to find fee-free ATMs. 

There are several apps available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store that show you surcharge-free networks. Here are a few:

Final Thoughts

The easiest way to avoid ATM fees is to stay within your bank’s network, but that isn’t always possible. Most banks’ websites have lists of their branches and ATM locations. You can also Google that information.

If you’ve got some time to plan, look into credit unions and smaller banks to reimburse your ATM fees.

Want to learn more about getting access to your money for free? Read our guide on how to find free ATMs near you.