Entrepreneur rolls out ATMs with no fees


One of the most loathsome fees in banking may have met its match thanks to a 25-year-old entrepreneur in Brooklyn.

Free ATMs NYC is a company started by Clinton Townsend. As the name suggests, Townsend’s approach is that you can get at your money fee-free (on his end) in exchange for watching an ad at the terminal and then getting some additional promotional messaging on the receipt.

One caveat here, though: If you are a customer of a giant monster mega-bank, they may still charge you a fee for using someone’s else machine. (That’s a different issue altogether and really speaks to why you need to fire them anyway!)

So far, there’s only such ATM located in Brooklyn, though more are expected in the New York metro area, according to what I read in Time. I hope this kind of idea will take root in other metro areas too.

My oldest brother banks with USAA and they absorb a certain number of his ATM charges every month. I do my banking with Charles Schwab, the discount stockbroker, and they absorb an unlimited number of ATM transactions per month. Others may have a certain number of fee-free transactions if they’re with an online bank.

Even though Charles Schwab pays the fees for me, I feel bad if the fee is too high! So I make it my business to only use one particular ATM that charges $1.25 — the lowest I’ve found in my area — so Charles Schwab doesn’t get hit with too big of a fee.

I was telling somebody about this and they said, “It’s not your money, why do you care?!” But it is my money and I do care because they may take the benefit away from customers if they find this perk saddles them with too much loss.

Editor’s note: This segment originally aired Jan. 3, 2012.

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