ATMs are becoming a costlier convenience

Banks are charging higher fees for out-of-network customers to withdraw cash or do other common banking tasks.

By Bruce Kennedy Apr 18, 2013 9:21AM

Person withdrawing cash -- Image Source/Image Source/Getty ImagesYour intuition was correct about the last time you had to get some money while out of town. It's costing you more to withdraw cash from ATMs outside of your bank's network -- on average 20% more compared with five or six years ago.

A new study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office says not only are more financial institutions adding fees for ATM use, but the estimated average surcharge for outside-of-network customers has gone up from $1.75 in 2007 to $2.10 last year.

And the GAO's analysis of ATMs run by independent operators -- the machines you use at gas stations, grocery shops and drugstores -- found their fees averaged $2.24 last year.

How do the banks explain the increase? According to the GAO, representatives from financial institutions view ATM access primarily as a service for their account holders, a way of giving customers 24/7 availability for simple transactions like getting cash and making deposits.

And when talking about costs for non-account-holding ATM customers, those banks cited three factors for their current fees: staying competitive with fees charged by other nearby ATMs, the operating costs of their ATMs, and a machine's expected usage or transaction levels.

For example, according to the report, "representatives from two large banks noted that surcharge fees help ensure ATM availability for their account holders while also making the service available as a convenience for nonaccount-holding customers. Furthermore, the surcharge revenues at some locations can subsidize expensive or unprofitable ATM locations such as airports, colleges, and business districts."

And industry observers say those ATM fees are expected to rise further because of federal regulations that limit some card fees and interest rates.

"Banks are looking for other sources of revenue," Bill Hardekopf, CEO of told CNNMoney, "now that the CARD Act and the Dodd-Frank bills took away some of their previous sources."

More on moneyNOW

Apr 18, 2013 10:31AM
When will people learn that the banks are the money changers that have been the parasites of the people forever. They understand that people will always take the path of least resistance and money is no different. Cash in hand costs nothing but they have made it easy to deposit your pay right into their hands and give you a plastic card to use your money. But what everyone forgets is there is always a catch. Bank fees for you and for the business you use it in and higher fees if you use an outside bank. The US economy is 16 trillion $ wouldn't anyone of us love to have just 1% of that business? I know I would. Hit them where it hurts, us cash as often as possible and put the power back into the hands of the people.
Apr 18, 2013 12:23PM

Our salaries are not increasing to reflect all the increases in fees, groceries, rent, utilities etc.  We can always go back to mailing our bills as we did when I first went to work and cashing a check for what we would need over the weekend.  These banks are robbing people and then getting bailed out when they fail.


Apr 18, 2013 10:20AM
US Government Accountability Office what a crock of $hit!
Apr 18, 2013 11:28AM

"And when talking about costs for non-account-holding ATM customers, those banks cited three factors for their current fees: staying competitive with fees charged by other nearby ATMs, the operating costs of their ATMs, and a machine's expected usage or transaction levels."


What a load of crap.  The fees charged are way over what it costs to operate an ATM.  The big banks are just padding profits by screwing over their customers. 

I don't understand why ANYONE would use a big retail bank instead of a credit union or small local bank.

Apr 18, 2013 12:01PM

It's been years since I've used an out of network ATM.  These days there's less reason to carry cash thanks to credit and debit cards accepted almost everywhere.


With banks paying no interest on savings, there's no point keeping more money in your account except to meet your obligations (direct debits for bills).  keep the rest under your mattress and avoid using ATMs at all. 


One ATM fee will obliterate any interest you might collect on even a very large amount of money in the bank, as much as the annual interest on $5000.

Crazy, isn't it?

Apr 18, 2013 12:37PM
As doing business becomes cheaper and cheaper. Cost go up and up. Now that businesses are too big to just go to the other guy (other guy is owned by the same company) There are fewer ways to fight back. Any business worth over 20 million or does more than 40 million a year in business should not be subsidized or given extra government benefits. It's the corporate welfare that is killing us.
They say if they don't get the help then prices will go up but they are already making record profits, so they are lying.
Apr 18, 2013 2:14PM
These banks are such b******t. artists.  A few decades ago they justified the ATMs because they would be able to lay off the bank tellers and thereby reduce/eliminate our bank fees and charges.  Well, they got rid of the tellers but the fees and charges remained...and even rose.  If you're old enough to recall, the auto industry did the same thing.  Remember what they said?  "If we installed the robots, the price of cars will go down considerably because they can work 24/7 and don't require health insurance."  Did you see any car prices go down?  Hell no.  They went up, creating more unemployed who became a "burden" on society.  When will these idiotic CEOs who run these companies realize that the people they keep laying off (the MIDDLE CLASS) are the ones who buy their products?!  So in the short term they see big profits and in the long-term everyone loses.  That's part of the reason our economy is in the shape it is now...the long-term portion of their bad ideas has finally caught up with us.
Apr 18, 2013 1:23PM
"Your intuition was correct about the last time you had to get some money while out of town. It's costing you more to withdraw cash from ATMs outside of your bank's network..."

If your "intuition" is working well enough to tell you that, it should be working well enough to tell you you're foolish to deal with a bank: join and transfer to a federally-insured Credit Union.

At my Credit Union I pay NO fees whatsoever at over 70,000 ATM's nationwide including those in every 7-11, Target, and Costco.  I pay NO debit-card swipe fees.  If I overdraw my checking account there are absolutely NO fees as long as my savings account can cover it. No Internet fees, no nickel-and-diming at all.  And I get as much interest on my checking account as I did on my former M&T savings account.  My other accounts get 3 to 5 times the interest I got at M&T.

I dumped M&T when it charged for new checks for the first time in my life and I discovered that almost anyone can join a credit union, even if it has a name like State Employees Credit Union. Something with a name like that will have enough branches across your state to make dealing with it comfortable. And the credit union does loans, CDs, etc. just like a bank - though it often has better deals for new car loans, etc. in association with certain dealerships.  But don't take my word for it: look into it.  I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Apr 18, 2013 2:23PM

Wells Fargo charged me 7.00 each for two balance inquiries on atm machines that were not theirs, no money withdrawn, just inquiries.

Heard from others similar stories.

Goodbye Wells Fargo.

Apr 18, 2013 10:20AM
we can end all the political nonsense , your on welfare you don't get to vote.
Apr 18, 2013 10:36AM
The Government backed thieves at it again. All banks need to be Boycotted.
 Hell I can do anything anyone else can do with a VISA card from Walmart and it's totally free.
All people are doing is making the rich richer dealing with Banks.
Apr 18, 2013 1:29PM

Easy way to avoid the Convenience Fee is to not use the Convenient Machine. 


It's like paying to belong to one gym and getting mad when another gym won't let you use their gym for free.

Apr 18, 2013 12:48PM
These ATMs would make plenty of money for the banks if they charged no more than a dollar per transaction...the rest is nothing but gouging...I don't use them unless I absolutely have no other choice...
Apr 18, 2013 1:29PM
What happened to all the money they got from the wonderful economy saving bail out?  If you don't like the fee don't use it.  Enough people stop using ATM's they will drop their fees.  duh!!
Apr 18, 2013 2:51PM

When my bank starts charging me to use my own money is when I start looking for a new bank!

Apr 18, 2013 2:23PM
I do not use ATM machines as you can get cash back now from many other sources.
Apr 18, 2013 2:05PM
ATM's lower the banks cost by reducing the number of tellers. 
Apr 18, 2013 2:19PM
After using them for a few years there was a mistake. Of course it was my fault according to the bank. Two months later I got a letter in the mail from the bank saying they found my money. Since then i have never used an ATM again. You can get cash back from many other sources and NO fees.
Apr 18, 2013 2:02PM

Between ATM and the credit card (Amex, visa charges to the sellers that efectively comeout of comeumer pockets) and all the fees that bank charge, we are paying 6-7 percent of the total for the use of our own money. It is like another sales tax which is around 6-7 percent. if we the consumer dont take this up seriously, it is going to be 100 percent soon enough.


ATMs were setup by the banks as it was cheaper to service customers that way rather than have them que up at the bank locations. Banks were thus able to reduce their expense on managing and setting up bank locations. ATMs did become a convenience for customer as well but the charge should be reasonable or free.

Apr 18, 2013 3:04PM
I have no ATM fees. Why...I don't use them. It is so simple. Wake up people and stop feeding in to the banking fees.
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