Adverse to ATM Fees

It’s amazing what we, as customers, have to pay to get our money out of the bank.  First, banks offer inconvenient hours of service.  Do you always have time to rush to the bank during your lunch hour?  Or maybe visit before reporting to work?  Banks’ hours are not very customer friendly.

But then banks provide ATMs as a convenient way for you to withdraw your money from your account at any time.  Of course, if you happen to withdraw money from an ATM not associated with your bank, you are charged a fee.

So, how far will I go to avoid the dreaded ATM fees?  Well, let’s say family members have teased me about driving a considerable distance to withdraw money free from my credit union.  I’ve been told I could have saved gasoline by just paying the ATM fee.  No way, Jose.   I don’t think I’m spending a comparable amount in gasoline to the ATM fee I avoided.  The drive from my house to the credit union is approximately 8 miles.  Plus, when I do drive to the credit union, I make sure I have other errands in the local area so it’s not a wasted trip.

But I don’t drive too much now to the local branch.  That’s because I’ve located a relatively close ATM where I can withdraw money for free.  On my credit union’s website, one can type one’s zip code, and one’s given the closest branches and ATMs where one can withdraw money without a fee.  I learned of an ATM about 10 blocks from my home.  So, when I need money, I walk (most of the time) & kill two birds with one stone:  getting additional exercise & reducing my carbon footprint.

I believe most consumers are smart enough to avoid ATM fees.  One strategy is to withdraw enough money each pay day so you avoid having to visit an ATM, especially one not associated with your bank, between pay periods (this is my personal favorite).  Or shop at your local grocery store or convenience store and get cash back.

I have to give “a shout out” to my credit union.  When I visited Montreal in 2003 I was a little short of cash and thus used the ATM to obtain Canadian dollars.  I expected some outrageous ATM fee upon my return to the States.  I was shocked, indeed, SHOCKED that no ATM fee was assessed.  Thus, when I revisited Montreal in 2006, I wasn’t concerned about carrying lots of cash on me because I knew I could withdraw money without a fee.

If  you’re the type who withdraws money when the need strikes, then try to find a bank or credit union that will not assess a fee when you withdraw money from a foreign ATM.  At such a bank, only the foreign ATM charges you a fee.  But if you bank doesn’t waive the ATM fee, can you image withdrawing $20.00, and the foreign ATM charges you $2.50 and then your own bank charges you $2.50.  It’s costs $5.00 to withdraw $20.00 or essentially you received $15.00.

Another option is to find a bank or credit union that allows you so many “free” ATM withdraws per month.  USAA Bank offers its customers up to 10 free ATM withdrawals monthly.

Maybe I’m a little extreme, but I’m not having Big Corporation (the flip side of Big Brother) profit from me.  Avoid ATM fees.  Keep the money you earn!!


1 Comment

  1. March 17, 2010 at 11:56 am

    I’m totally with you and go out of my way to avoid this. I’m lucky that my bank (+atms) are in my office building and there’s also one right around the corner from home. I kick myself when I travel + forget to hit the atm before leaving home – but that only happened once in the last year or so. I am amazed at people who willingly (?) Pay such fees!

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