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

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If you’re not careful, fees you rack up at ATMs can eat into your budget. 

Bankrate’s annual Checking Account and ATM Fee Study reveals that Americans pay an average surcharge of $1.51 every time they use an out-of-network ATM. While that amount represents a 10-year low, consumers continue to be beset with other charges to access their money.

Here are some key findings from the report, which Bankrate compiled from surveying 245 banks and thrifts across 25 U.S. markets.

  • The average ATM fee charged by banks for out-of-network transactions ($1.51) dropped for the fourth straight year.
  • Although average ATM fees for out-of-network usage fell slightly, the report shows that surcharges, the fees charged by ATM owners, stayed the same as last year: an average of $3.08 per transaction.
  • Forty percent of accounts permit free out-of-network withdrawals, an 8% increase over the past two years.

How Much Are You Paying in ATM Fees?

Average fee assessed by the machine owner for using an ATM out of your network$3.08
Average fee assessed by your bank for using an ATM out of your network$1.51
Total$4.59

At the rate above, if you withdraw money just once a week from an out-of-network ATM, you’d end up paying $238.68 in a year!

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

Money expert Clark Howard 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. 

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There are several apps available in the App Store and Google Play that show you only 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? Here’s are more ways to find free ATMs near you.

More Banking Resources From Clark.com:

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