How to Avoid or Minimize Bank ATM Fees

Not all Banks Charge ATM Fees

July 14, 2007

There are a growing number of banks that rebate ATM (Automated Teller Machine) fees charged to their customers who withdraw money from their accounts using the ATM machine of another bank or ATM owner (ATMs themselves can be owned and operated by businesses other than banks).

Most ATM transactions are what is known as convenience transactions which are transactions offered by the bank as a service necessary to retain the customer. While the transaction itself results in additional costs to the bank, it adds no revenue to the bank.

Allowing customers of other banks to use their ATMs for transactions increases the costs further and benefits the hosting bank only in the sense that the other banks are reciprocating and providing the same service to its customers.

Historically, most banks have allowed their own customers to access their accounts with the bank for free while charging non-customers for use of their ATM machines.

This gave banks with a large branch network a competitive advantage as banking with that bank offered the convenience of a greater number of free ATMs around town.

However, branches are expensive to build and maintain and banks with few or no branches soon found that by reimbursing the fees charged to their customers when the customers use ATMs belonging to other banks, they could gain the same competitive advantage at a much lower cost.

Further, this cost could be contained by capping the amount of the fee reimbursed per transaction and/or the number of transactions per month.

I do the majority of my banking with USAA Federal Savings Bank which from its beginnings a few decades ago has had customers world-wide but only one office at the USAA headquarters in San Antonio, Texas.

Originally, deposits were made via mail or wire transfer and cash withdrawals through other bank ATMs with USAA reimbursing the ATM fees charged by these banks. Other banks, especially online banks, have since followed suit and many now offer reimbursement of ATM fees.

Bank Atm Machine
Bank Atm Machine | Source

A Short List of Banks that Rebate ATM Fees

Here is a list of some of the banks that I have found which offer reimbursement of ATM fees:

Bank of the Internet - rebates up to $6 per month in ATM charges by other banks

ING Direct - its Electronic Orange account provides free ATM withdrawals in all 50 states when using ATMs that are on the AllpointTM Network. In this case there is no charge rather than a rebate.

Founder's Bank and Trust of Grand Rapids, Michigan - has brick and mortar offices in Grand Rapids area as well as full on line services which include opening accounts from anywhere. Their ATM card can be used anywhere in the world and they rebate ATM fees incurred when using another bank's ATM. Customers are allowed 4 such free ATM transactions per monthly account cycle.

ATM Fee Survey

Does Your Bank Offer Free ATM Access?

  • YES, but only when I use their ATMs
  • YES on all ATM use, but I have to Pay any fees charged by other banks
  • YES, and my bank also reimburses me for fees charged by other banks
  • NO, But I plan to stay with them and pay the fees
  • NO, and I am looking for a new bank that doesn't charge
See results without voting

First Internet Bank - rebates up to $6 per month on its interest bearing checking accounts, money market savings accounts and regular savings accounts.

E*Trade - this is an on line securities company that also offers online banking services. Their Max-Rate checking account and some of their other accounts come with unlimited ATM surcharge rebates. There is a 1% fee imposed by E*Trade banking for ATM transactions in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, but other charges by the hosting bank are rebated.

Charles Schwab Bank - this is an Internet bank that is part of the Charles Schwab Investment Company. They have a checking account that offers unlimited ATM surcharge rebates subject to some restrictions.

NetBank - An online only bank that rebates ATM surcharge fees up to $3.50 per statement cycle. Since this is an online bank, there are no branch offices in which to do business.  As a result all transactions have to be conducted either through their banking online services via the Internet or through ATMs. This is true of other online banks as well.

Sign for Drive Through ATM Machine
Sign for Drive Through ATM Machine | Source

Other Options to Reduce or Avoid ATM Fees

The list above is but a sample of banks that offer ATM surcharge rebates. As you can see by the examples I have given, the number and amount of the fees vary.

Also, there may be additional conditions (such as a minimum balance that must be maintained in order to qualify for the rebates) or other charges such as minimum balance fees, statement fees, per check fees, etc. which can easily wipe out or exceed any savings obtained by having the ATM surcharge fees rebated.

Also, keep in mind that most of these are REBATES in which the fee is charged to your account and money withdrawn at the time of transaction. These amounts are then rebated back to you at the end of the month with your statement. In my case, USAA Federal Savings Bank will rebate fees on up to ten withdraws per month but no more than a total of $15 per month.

Every time I use an ATM to withdraw money I subtract both the amount withdrawn and the fee from the balance in my checkbook. At the end of the month the rebate fee amount shows up on my statement as an end of the month deposit. Since, by my calculations, the fee amounts have already been spent, I take the rebate amount, along with the interest and rebate I receive for using my Credit/Debit card for purchases and transfer them to a savings account thereby turning the ATM fees into a savings plan.

Here are a few other options, if the only problem you have with your current bank is the fact that you have to pay fees on ATM withdrawals

Debit Card cash back - many banks give customers a choice of an ATM card which can only be used in ATM machines or a Debit/Credit card that can be used for ATM transactions as well as for purchases (when used as a debit or credit card the cash is withdrawn almost immediately from your checking account rather than being advanced to you by the bank and then billed at the end of the month as with true credit cards.)

When you use the card as a debit card to make a purchase at a grocery or other store you are often given the option of receiving additional cash back. The cash back is usually in multiples of $20 and is, in effect, an ATM cash withdrawal without a fee. By planning ahead for most of your cash needs, you can pay with your debit card rather than a check and make a free ATM style withdrawal at the same time.

Make a few large withdrawals rather than many small ones - another cash management trick is to make a few large withdrawals rather than many small withdrawals For instance, if you find that you stop at the ATM machine to withdraw $20 each day when traveling to or from work, why not make one withdrawal of $100 at the beginning of the week?

Since the ATM fee is a flat fee per transaction, you pay the same whether you withdraw $20 or $400 (which is generally the maximum allowed per day for security reasons). At $2 per transaction, your ATM fee charges in this instance are cut from $10 per week (1 transaction per day for five work days) to $2 (one transaction per week).

Open a separate account just for ATM usage - find a bank that provides a no fee account option and rebates ATM fees but lacks other features that you want, and open a checking or savings account solely for the purpose of getting free ATM transactions.

If the bank is local and convenient, simply stop by once a week and deposit a check from your regular bank checking account into this account for the sole purpose of being able to withdraw it as needed and without fees in the coming week or two.

If your current bank offers a free on line money transfer service to accounts at other banks you can make the deposit electronically on your computer (you may need to wait a couple of days for the deposit to show up at the other bank but that can be done on line as well).

Use your Credti/Debit Card in place of cash - The final suggestion is to use your Credit/Debit card for most of your spending. Practically every vendor takes credit and debit cards now days and many banks are extending their cash rebate and/or reward point programs to the Credit/Debit cards when used as a credit card (a few are even beginning to extend them to debit card transactions as well) so you have this as an added benefit.

Since USAA rebates one half of 1% of the total amount charged when using the Credit/Debit card as a credit card, I use that for almost every purchase and can often go a week or more without spending any cash.

People are different in terms of their likes and dislikes, their circumstances, as well as their needs and wants so one size fit all solutions rarely work. The great thing is, the market offers nearly unlimited options, the only problem being that we continually need to shop around to find the best deals for own personal needs. Hopefully, the information provided here will make that job a little easier.

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Comments 57 comments

Chuck profile image

Chuck 2 weeks ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Madge Gafford - I'm glad you found this Hub informative and helpful.


Madge Gafford profile image

Madge Gafford 3 months ago

Informative article . I Appreciate the facts , Does anyone know if my company could possibly locate a blank SC DL-127 version to work with ?


Chuck profile image

Chuck 5 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

MarloByDesign - thanks for visiting my Hub. As to your question, the reference to HSBC online accounts was in one of the comments above by another visitor. HSBC was not one of the banks that I referred to in the Hub article itself.

However, I will attempt to answer your question by noting that while most, if not all, banks and related financial institutions offer online access by customers to their accounts, there are both some Internet only banks as well some types of accounts by traditional so called brick and mortar banks that require all customer interactions to be done online.

In other words, there is no face to face interactions between customers and bank employees. In the case of Internet only banks there are no physical branches in which one can do business in person. In the case of online only accounts at traditional brick and mortar banks there branches where customers can do business but I suspect that if you have an online only account you will be charged a hefty fee for attempting to do business in person at a branch facility.


MarloByDesign profile image

MarloByDesign 5 years ago from United States

Which of HSBC's online accounts are you referring to? Aren't all accounts considered "online"?


sarahpucci profile image

sarahpucci 5 years ago

That is SUCH a great hub Chuck. So useful I cannot even begin to say how much it helped me! I couldn't find this info anywhere else.


cloudhardy profile image

cloudhardy 5 years ago from United State

Good Hub!!!!!

The information such as, most of the transactions of the present day's are that most ATM transactions are what is known as convenience transactions which are transactions offered by the bank as a service necessary to retain the customer, is very useful in its totality. Thanks a lot for sharing. I await your future text in this regards with a great curiosity.


toneyahuja profile image

toneyahuja 6 years ago from India

Very good information Bank swift codes are for all banks http://swiftcodesbanks.blogspot.com


altemoebel profile image

altemoebel 6 years ago

@reisebrichte: Haha, that's right


reiseberichte profile image

reiseberichte 6 years ago

ATM surcharges are sooo much mediaeval!!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

adorababy - thanks for visiting my HubPages and for your comments.

I just listed a few banks that I knew waived ATM fees. There are others that I am not aware of.

The service charges on ATM transactions are one way that some banks make up for income lost when government regulations limit the charges they can levy for other services.

Competition, of course, tends to work in the opposite direction as more efficient banks try to attract new business by lowering ATM fees.

Finally, not all ATM's are owned by banks. Non-bank companies and individuals can set up an operate ATM machines. In these cases the operators have to pay rent for the location of their ATMs as well as incur costs for computers, wiring, data systems, etc. in order to provide ATM access for consumers in more remote, non-bank locations. The higher fees not only cover the higher costs these enterprises incur but are also the attraction that draws such entrepreneurs into this field to provide ATM convenience outside of bank buildings.

Thanks again for your comment


adorababy profile image

adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

I am not surprised that there's only a short list of these banks. It is insane how many of the banks charge huge interest on their atm services.


Visitor 6 years ago

I did not know about Etrade Banking Service with ATM rebates!Thats convient because they offer online trades so money can all be managed in one place. Im sure they will be glad to get my call?


lovelypaper profile image

lovelypaper 6 years ago from Virginia

Excellent info. Good to know.


mel22 profile image

mel22 6 years ago from ,

Thanks 4 the info...i'll be checkin' out Founders since its near my locale.


Fresh_Flower profile image

Fresh_Flower 6 years ago from London

Chuck - Thanks for your answer. It would be interesting to know in which way the bank makes money (business model) when they give their customer a loan. It could be the the same way as in the example you mentioned from the Middle Ages. Thanks!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 6 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Fresh_Flower - thanks for your comment. As to Islam banks in the U.S. I am not aware of any but would not be surprised if there were some in major financial centers like New York City. According to WikiPedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking ), Islamic banks can be found all over the world including the United States

As to charging interest, Islamic banks do not do this as the charging of interest or usury is forbidden by Islamic Law. However, don't expect to get a free loan from an Islamic bank as there are ways under Islamic Law whereby Islamic banks can make money on loan but just not call it interest.

One way, according to the same WikiPedia article referenced above, involves the bank, rather than the borrower, purchasing the property (business, home, car, etc.) that the borrower is seeking to borrow funds to buy and then reselling the property to the buyer at a higher price and letting the borrower pay the bank for the property on an installment basis.

I vaguely recall a comment by one of my college economics professors that in the Middle Ages the Catholic Church had a similar rule against usury based upon some passage or passages in the Christian Old Testament. As I remember, the professor said that banks got around this prohibition against charging interest by making a loan contract with a duration of one day that included a late fee equal to what a year's interest would be and allowing the borrower a year to repay the loan and late fee before declaring the loan to be in default and taking the collateral.


Fresh_Flower profile image

Fresh_Flower 6 years ago from London

Do you have Islam banks in the US? Banks that take no interest rate? Those types of banks are starting to grow here in Europe. Strange thing - no interest rate?


Dan Carson profile image

Dan Carson 6 years ago

I personally try to just go to my bank and I do so 98% of the time.


Isaac Q. 6 years ago

great info, BTW I just wanted to add my experience with PAYPAL debit card that I have been using for the past year now. It's absolutely free and easy to apply for once you have opened your PAYPAL account for 60 days. Another great feature I like about it is it only charges $1 per ATM withdrawal WORLDWIDE. Besides that I get 1% cash back for all signed purchases anywhere MASTERCARD is accepted. This helps you with those tiny ATM fees ($1.00)...i really find it a useful alternative when you are travelling abroad....I hope it helps some of us frequent overseas travellers out there....Cheers!


MikeNV profile image

MikeNV 6 years ago from Henderson, NV

There was an article today on Yahoo about banks not being able to charge overdraft fees now on Debit Cards that have balances below what people are trying to spend. In the past they have approved the charge then hit the customer with a big fee. The interesting statement was Banks make between 25-38 Billion on overdraft fees. Where they got that number I don't know and they didn't say... 13 billon is a pretty big margin of error.

The problem with the Banking system is when Government bails them out they feel no sting, thus have no incentive to provide better services.


MaryElena profile image

MaryElena 6 years ago

I try to just go to my bank and plan ahead as they definitely don't give me a rebate.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 7 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Alaberto - I did a quick Google search using the search term "online bank atlanta georgia reimburse atm fees" and came up with some Atlanta based and other online banks that reimburse ATM fees. I also came up with a site http://www.monitorbankrates.com

which has articles and ads with account rates and other information on various banks. In their archives I found a May 13, 2009 posting about Brookhaven Bank in Atlanta whose Elite checking account was offering a 4.5% interest rate and ATM fee reimbursement on their Elite checking account. However, the account required that a $50,000 minimum balance be maintained. Here is a link to that article http://www.monitorbankrates.com/online-checking-ac...

Hope this information helps you.


Alaberto 7 years ago

I have a quick question. There's a bank in the Atlanta area that not only reimburses ATM fees but pays 3-4% on regular free checking accounts. I found it online and was going to open a small account there but about a month ago, I lost my laptop, and the info on the bank along with it.For the life of me, I cannot remember the name of the bank.

Does anyone have an idea?

I'd really appreciate it. Thanks


WildEyes profile image

WildEyes 7 years ago

Great info! Thanks!


John 7 years ago

Thank you for the update on HSBC.


livefreedom 7 years ago

Yes banks are not fair these days.. Iv learned the hard way as well. These day I have come to understand you can never make any money with out it costing you. I have put all that to a stop and changed the way I live.. Thank Goodness..

http://www.livefreedomlovelife.com


nancydodds1 profile image

nancydodds1 7 years ago from Houston, Texas

Yes i agree with your hub. But only some banks can provide ATM fees rebated that to it will depend on banks also.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

superinternet - thanks for visiting my Hub. As to your question about having ATM fees rebated from transactions in Africa and Asia, all I can say is that it would depend upon the bank that you use and the amount of fees charged by the bank from whose ATM machine you make the withdrawl.


SuperInternet profile image

SuperInternet 8 years ago from UK

Is it useful to other's country in africa and asia?


02SmithA profile image

02SmithA 8 years ago from Ohio

Very useful hub. This is a small fee that can add up a whole lot over time.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Pocket Survival - Thanks for the update on HSBC.


Pocket Survival profile image

Pocket Survival 8 years ago

This is a very useful hub! Just wanted to add that HSBC's online account reimburses 3 ATM surcharges per month.


elo 8 years ago

I just read that Bank of Internet also reimburses for all ATM fees abroad..


eugie17 profile image

eugie17 8 years ago from online (everywhere)

Thank you for this hub its really

hard to find good banking service these days


Bank Accounts 8 years ago

Compare leading bank accounts with Australia’s leadingfinancial comparison web site, Credit world.


AndyBaker profile image

AndyBaker 8 years ago from UK

Very useful info - thanks so much !


guidebaba profile image

guidebaba 8 years ago from India

Thanks for all the Good Info.


johnr54 profile image

johnr54 8 years ago from Texas

I tell you the worst place that you get hit on these is international travel. My daughter went to Europe for a while and was bumping into a lower limit for withdrawals for international withdrawals, so was making more "smaller" transactions, but the fees were on the moon. It's not like the dollars not already weak, but is looks weaker when you have to pay so much for getting the local currency.


bryan1028 8 years ago

Great info indeed


jACKSAN 8 years ago

best info i've seen-thanks


Marc 8 years ago

Thanks for the great information, Chuck. I used to hate those non-customer ATM charges. Banks must have realized the inconvenience to their patrons.


Katahdin 8 years ago

I couldn't resist posting that a local bank in Bangor, Maine promotes free worldwide atm fees. I don't have an account with them but know many people who do.

http://www.bangor.com/FreeATMsWorldwide.aspx

I did use my ATM card from a smaller Maine Bank - Katahdin Trust Co - about 10 yrs ago when I was abroad in Ireland, and there was no charge from the Irish bank and none from Katahdin Trust. Definitely the way to go instead of attempting to convert currency before getting to whichever country !!

BTW, Its just coincidence that my ID is the same as the banks name - I have no connection, except as customer.


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

coolbreeze - Thanks for visiting my Hub and for your comment. I just re-read my article and didn't see any place where I mentioned a "safest US bank". All banks in the United States are required by law to provide deposit insurance from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) covering up to $100,000 per individual account name so your deposits (of less than $100,000) in banks in the U.S. are fairly safe from loss.

While good judgment is always called for when making decisions about how to manage one's money, you are probably safe with most banks in the U.S. The big thing here is convenience and fees and that will require some thought and research on your part. This Hub was intended to help with that part of the process.

Thanks again for visiting and for your comment.


coolbreeze profile image

coolbreeze 8 years ago from Hawaii

Good Info What is that safest US bank?


joeandy profile image

joeandy 8 years ago

I found your info very useful. Thanks.


Coastal Vacations profile image

Coastal Vacations 8 years ago from New York City

Thanks a lot for this info. Never knew. Happy Holidays to you!


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand

Just did a quick check - my bank Commonwealth is charging A$5 per a transaction + 1% of the amoun withdrawn if I use it in a Cirrus ATM ! Won't be doing that while on holiday! My NZ bank - one of my NBNZ charges NZ$7.50 ! Another one charges nothing - it pays to shop around!


Chuck profile image

Chuck 8 years ago from Tucson, Arizona Author

Lissie, thanks for visiting my hub and for your comment. As to your question, I think it is up to the bank that issues the card. I believe that my bank and some of the other banks whose ads I have seen claim that they will rebate fees world wide (but I haven't been overseas recently to try my ATM card). It is the issuing bank that sets the policy. In the case of my bank they will rebate up to US$2.00 per transaction and up to 15 transactions per statement cycle. So, if the bank that owned an ATM I used charged $6 for an ATM withdrawl, my bank would only refund me $2 even if that was my only transaction for the month. The other thing to keep in mind is the exchange rate. The rebate is based upon the US$ value of the charge. So, assume that the Australian dollar was worth three U.S. dollars and an Australian bank charged one Australian dollar per ATM withdrawl, this transaction would still cost me a (US) dollar since, when the transaction was converted to U.S. dollars the Australian dollar would convert at the rate of three US dollars of which my bank would only reimburse me for two of those dollars.

Out of curiosity, where are they charging six dollars for an ATM withdrawl? I just paid $3 the other night when I had to get some money from a local ATM and thought that was outragous.

Thanks again for the comment.


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand

Does the rebate applies to overseas ATM charges as well? It a big issue for Australians travelling overseas as some charges are upt to A$6! I was wondering if americans had the same problem.


Costa Blanca 8 years ago

Certainly worth bearing in mind. Thanks.


multimastery 8 years ago

Very informative info! I'll definitely enlighten others with it.


hereitis 4u2cit 8 years ago

Thanks! I didn't know some of this info re: ATM fees and I'll definitely put some of the advice into action!


raymondphilippe profile image

raymondphilippe 9 years ago from The Netherlands

As far as I know there are no ATM fees in Holland for normal withdrawels. However when we are on vacation in a foreign (European) country (small) fees are sometimes charged. But I am not complaining. It's very conveniant to be able to travel without carrying much money with you


Eun Jung Decker 9 years ago

I use USAA, and I love it. They save me a ton of money each year. If you're lucky enough to be able to bank with them, do it.


cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

I agree with livelonger, it is a nice hub, I use Netbank and I didn't realize they will reimburse now I have to contact them and find out. I usually use Cash back from Groceries and avoid paying ATM fees.


joniki 9 years ago from manassas

I bank with PNC here in virginia and they not only do not charge atm fees but they also give me back any atm charges incurred by other banks. I think they are currently only in a small area of the east coast but they are a great bank.

nice hub and great information.


livelonger profile image

livelonger 9 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this incredibly useful info. I had heard about Etrade's rebates, but you've provided a much longer list of banks to check out.

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