Banks are Getting Rich off Your ATM Fees

Those seemingly unavoidable ATM fees you pay every time you use the service may be providing hefty revenues for big and smaller local banks. In fact, the major banks, such as Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo, brought in a staggering $437.7 million dollars in revenues from ATM fees during the first quarter of 2015. Justification for these ATM fees from those banks are that they are simply offsetting lost revenues associated with the caps set by the Federal Reserve on retailer charges for debit card transactions.

Most people using an ATM machine will pay a minimum of $2.25 for using the ATM machine. According to the US Government Accountability Office, those using an ATM machine could be hit with a surcharge fee from the ATM operator as well as an out-of-network ATM Fee. The surcharge fee has increased since 2007, and now averages $2.24. The out-of-network fee averages $2.45 at the ten largest American banks. This could put your ATM fee as high as $4.69 every time you use an ATM which does not belong to your bank.

According to a survey by the American Bankers Association, many Americans have become adept at circumventing those pesky ATM fees. Some banks offer free ATM fees for customers who maintain a specific minimum balance, sign up for direct deposit, or use their own bank’s ATM. Below are some ways to ensure you are not charged outrageous ATM fees:

  • Go out of your way to find your own bank’s ATM machine. Sometimes it could be just around the corner, so use your mobile banking app on your cell phone to locate the closest ATM.
  • Generally speaking, ATM fees are lower when you bank with the larger banks such as Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. These banks often partner with popular retailers (like 7-Eleven) to put a branded ATM in their stores.
  • Some banks refund ATM fees, although there are few, and those that do are mostly online-only banks. As an example, Ally Bank and several others offer free checking accounts with reimbursement for ATM fees. If you use an ATM frequently, you might consider switching to one of these banks.
  • Get cash back when you make purchases at retail stores or your supermarket, and you can skip the ATMs—and their fees—altogether. There is no charge for asking for cash back on a debit card transactions, although not all retailers offer the service.
  • Make sure you take out enough money when you go to the ATM machine; if you find you haven’t taken out sufficient funds, you will be hit with the ATM fees multiple times. In other words, plan ahead.

Where you are and when you use an ATM can significantly impact the fees you will pay. As an example, ATM machines in entertainment venues can charge ATM fees from $6.45 to $27.45. Airports typically charge ATM fees from $4.45 to $8.45, and convenience stores charge from $3.44 to $7.45. The operator surcharge fee on these ATM machines can be from .99 cents to $25.00, which accounts for the majority of the fees. As noted above, planning ahead can vastly reduce the amount of ATM fees you will be subject to. Have a good idea how much cash you will need—then get extra. Find out where your bank’s ATM machines are located, and consider changing to an online only bank. In the fourth quarter of 2014, Bank of America reported a net income of $3.1 billion. Save your hard-earned money rather than turning it over to corporate greed.

Consumer Protection Lawyers

If you believe that your bank is imposing unfair fees or hiding their fees, it is imperative that you seek legal representation immediately. Contact the national consumer protection lawyers at Golomb Legal today at 1-800-355-3300 or 1-215-985-9177 or fill out our confidential Contact Form. We have successfully fought credit card companies, banks, and financial institutions and protected consumer rights for decades. Call us today to review your case.

The national consumer protection lawyers at Golomb Legal have successfully represented individuals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and throughout the United States.