Sometimes your money costs you money, at least when you use an ATM to get it. When you use an ATM that isn't operated by your own bank to make withdrawals, deposits or even simple balance inquiries, you can run into a bundle of extra fees, charged not only by your bank but also by the company that operates the ATM you use.
- Charges by the ATM operator: When using an ATM that isn't part of your bank's network of machines, you are usually notified about a fee to the bank or company that operates the ATM. Banks charge non-customers $1.50 to $3.50 at their ATMs, but non-bank ATM operators often charge more, up to $10 per transaction. Las Vegas casinos, for instance, are notorious for charging high fees on ATM cash withdrawals within their buildings.
- Surcharges from your own bank: Your home bank may also charge you a "non-network ATM fee" for using an ATM operated by another bank or institution. These charges will typically cost between $2.00 and $3.50, depending on your bank and the tier of service you are enrolled in. Note that such fees are not announced to you at any time during your ATM transaction.
- International Transaction Fees: For international transactions you usually pay higher fees on cash withdrawals. These fees combine a flat charge of around $2.00 to $7.00 with a conversion rate calculated as a percentage of the amount withdrawn, typically 3 percent.
While all of the 22 banks we studied offer free use of their own ATMs, all of them charge customers for transactions at the ominous “out-of-network” machine —that is, unless you maintain a balance in your checking or savings account high enough for your bank to grant perks like free non-network ATM use. Bank of America, one of the few banks that don’t offer such a benefit via one of its accounts, stressed that it may offer a refund on a case-by-case basis depending upon your account history. BofA’s charges for the following types of fees are representative of their statewide competition.
To its credit, Bank of America is a part of the Global ATM Alliance, which directs its customers to use specific ATMs when travelling abroad. If, for example, a BofA customer withdraws British Pounds from Barclays, he or she won’t have to pay either bank for the transaction, although a 3 percent fee still applies to cover the currency exchange.
ATM Fees By Bank
The following are the standard ATM withdrawal fees charged by each bank.
|National Banks||Non-network ATM Fee||International ATM Fee||ATM Operator Fee (charged to non-customers)|
|Bank of America||$2.50||$5 and 3%||$3.00|
|BB&T||$2.50||$5 and 3%||$2.50|
|Capital One||$0||$2 and 3%||$3.00|
|Chase||$2.50||$5 and 3%||$3.00|
|Citibank||$2.50||$2 and 3%||$3.00|
|Fifth Third Bank||$2.00||$5 and 3%||$1.50-3.50|
|KeyBank||$2.50||$2.50 and 1%||$2.50|
|PNC Bank||$3.00||$5 and 3%||$3.50|
|Regions Bank||$2.50||$5 and 3%|
|U.S. Bank||$2.50||$2.50 and 3%||$2.50|
|Wells Fargo||$2.50||$5 and 3%||$3.00|
|M&T Bank||$3.00||$3 and 3%||$3.00|
|Comerica Bank||$2.00||$2 and 3%||$3.00|
|HSBC Bank||$2.50||$2.50 and 3%|
|BMO Harris Bank||$2.50||$2.50 and 3%||$2.50|
|BBVA Compass||$2.50||$2 and 3%|
|Union Bank||$2.00||$5 and 2%||$3.00|
|Santander||$2-3.50||$6 and 4%||$3.00|
|HSBC Bank||$2.00||$2.50 and 3%||$3.00|
Avoiding ATM Fees With High-Yield Checking
One way to reduce domestic ATM fees is to upgrade your standard checking account to a high-yield account. Depending on the bank it may waive its own surchages as well as reimburse you for fees charged by another ATM network. The one disadvantage is that high-yield accounts often come with monthly service charges unless you meet a minimum deposit requirement, which may be difficult for some consumers to meet. Here are some examples that pay dividends at the ATM:
Fifth Third Bank: Preferred Checking waives charges for using other banks' ATMs (although the second bank will very likely charge you), and “any fees from other ATM network owners will be rebated back to you on the same day – up to 10 times per month.” There is a $25 monthly service charge for this account unless there is at least $100,000 across your deposit and investment accounts.
Capital One: High-Yield Checking covers the fees from any ATM within the U.S. (and some abroad), which will be reimbursed within five business days, up to $15 worth per statement period. The bank’s 360 Checking account, meanwhile, gives its members free access to 38,000 AllPoint ATM locations. The high-yield checking account requires a $5,000 minimum balance at all times, and there is no monthly service tied to either Capital One account.
Chase: Premier Plus Checking refunds accountholders four times per statement period, while its Premier Platinum Checking account provides unlimited free access to non-Chase ATMs. The Premier Plus account comes with a $25 monthly charge unless you have an average daily balance of at least $15,000 spanning connected accounts or have an automatic payments linked to a Chase mortgage. The Platinum level account costs $35 month unless you have $75,000 or more in qualifying accounts.
Citibank: has the benefit of partnering with 7-Eleven and free ATM-finder MoneyPass to outfit its customers with 34,000 ATMs in the country. Plus, Citigold cardholders have the bank’s fee for using unaffiliated ATMs waived altogether. Citigold members need to maintain $50,000+ in their Citibank accounts or $100,000 in accounts including investment portfolio.
Citizens Bank: Value Checking account includes one free transaction at another bank’s ATM per month; the higher-level Circle Gold checking account ups that number to four. The former requires a $3.99 monthly maintenance fee that can’t be waived; the latter costs $20 but is waived when the accountholder keeps a balance of $20,000 or more across their accounts.
KeyBank: Privilege Select checking account covers an unlimited number of non-Key ATM surcharges; two lower-level accounts make up for $6 in such charges per month. The Privilege account comes at a $50 cost, which can be forgiven when your balances combine to equal or exceed $100,000.
PNC Bank: Virtual Wallet with Performance Select wipes away all PNC fees and reimburses an unlimited amount of the fees charged by other banks; these benefits of the next-best virtual wallet account are dependent on the city in which you live. There is no monthly service fee for PNC’s highest level account if your combined average monthly balance reaches $25,000. Otherwise, you’ll be billed $25 each statement cycle.
Beyond opening up new accounts, there are also basic, everyday ways of avoiding – or decreasing – fees:
- Only making withdrawals from your bank’s ATMs, which are almost always free
- Selecting the cash-back option available when checking out from some merchants, including grocery stores
- Withdraw larger amounts of funds from your account less frequently
Consider Brokerage Accounts For Best ATM Fee Savings
A number of brokerage services also issue bank cards that allow you to access cash at ATMs. Companies like E*Trade, Charles Schwab and Fidelity - our top online brokers for ETFs with no commissions - generally do not have brick and mortar branches but instead will refund the fees associated with using an unaffiliated ATM for cash withdrawals. Charles Schwab will even refund all fees for international transactions while E*Trade and Fidelity charge only a 1 percent fee.