5 easy ways to avoid paying outrageous ATM fees

5 easy ways to avoid paying outrageous ATM fees
Image Credit: Dreamstime
Team Clark is adamant that we will never write content influenced by or paid for by an advertiser. To support our work, we do make money from some links to companies and deals on our site. Learn more about our guarantee here.

Bank robbery used to mean that a desperado would go into a bank, all guns blazing, and steal money. Today, however, it’s much different.

The modern bank robber is more likely to look like the guy or gal next door — and that’s because the bank robber has become the banker him or herself.

Read more: Easy ways to make extra cash each month

Paying an ATM fee to access your own money is reverse bank robbery, plain and simple!

The average fee to withdraw money from an out-of-network ATM now costs $4.57 a pop. And unfortunately, Americans are victims all the time. In fact, the nation’s three biggest banks raked in $6.4 billion last year in ATM and overdraft fees.


So if you’re tired of throwing your hard-earned money away, consider these alternatives…

5 ways to beat ATM fees

1. Use your own bank’s ATM

You’re often hit twice to use an ATM as a non-customer: Once by your own bank and once by the institution that owns the foreign ATM. So this one is a basic no-brainer — use your own bank’s ATMs exclusively and you’ll never pay another ATM fee again!

2. Find retail partner ATMs

Many banks will have agreements in place with retailers to be their preferred ATM provider. Wells Fargo ATMs can be found in QT gas stations and Citibank ATMs are in 7-Elevens. Those are just two examples of the many affiliate partnerships out there. Ask your bank who their affiliates are.

3. Get cash back at the register

Many supermarkets will give you up to $200 at the register, fee-free. Ditto for the major pharmacy chains. (This is a great way for stores to reduce cash on hand.) In addition, Sam’s Club allows you to get up to $100 cash back when you check out.

4. Bank with an organization that will eat the fee for you 

A couple of examples are USAA and Charles Schwab. They absorb or refund the ATM fee when you use a foreign ATM, up to a set amount. Here’s another idea: Many of the credit unions that have large co-op networks offer free ATMs.

5. Borrow from a friend or family member

Why not just borrow a few bucks rather than pay a hefty fee at an alien ATM? Paypal, Venmo, Square Cash and Google Wallet are all great options for this approach.


Clark is famous for obsessively remembering the last time he paid an ATM fee: June 1996 in Moab, Utah, to be exact!

It’s been over 20 years and he’s still rankling over it. Don’t be like Clark: avoid ATM fees at all costs!

Read more: 13 fees that are wasting a lot of your hard-earned money

Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the #1 New York Times bestseller "Living Large in Lean Times."
View More Articles
  • Show Comments Hide Comments