Smart SpendingSmart Spending

Watch an ad, avoid an ATM fee

Would you happily watch a videotaped advertisement in order to access your money for free?

By MSN Money Partner Dec 6, 2011 12:30PM

This post comes from Brian O'Connell at partner site MainStreet.


MainStreet on MSN MoneyIt's an innovative concept -- a free ATM that not only dispenses cash without those nasty $2 and $3 fees, but also dispenses video ads while you wait for your money to pop out.

debuted the new ATM in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, N.Y., with a unique twist: It will dispense cash to any bank customer and will skip the fee as long as the user agrees to watch a video advertisement from a third-party company that covers the fees users would normally incur for using the machine. You may be a captive audience for advertisers, but at least you won't be paying any fees to access your money.


Expect the trend to hit ATMs near you as the no-fee option catches on. ATM fees are a huge thorn in the side of bank customers. The average bank ATM fee stood at $2.33 in 2010.


And it gets worse. According to Long Island, N.Y., credit union NEFCU, some big banks have been testing ATM fees in the $4 and $5 ranges targeted at noncustomers.


No wonder people are marching in the streets protesting against big banks. Post continues below.

Here's how the free ATM process works, according to the tutorial on the Free ATM website:

  • Before the transaction. Free ATM NYC uses third-party advertising to attract customers, with a 15-inch video LCD screen to enter your personal financial information.
  • During the transaction. While a transaction is processed, third-party advertisers broadcast video ads, much like many gas stations have started to do at the pumps. The ads are shown on a separate 10-inch digital LCD screen embedded in the ATM.
  • After the transaction. After completing a transaction, customers receive branded receipts or coupons with the advertiser's name or logo.

The owner of Free ATM NYC, 25-year-old Clinton Townsend, has ambitious plans for the concept. Eventually, he wants to bring the free ATM onto the turf of big banks, right in the heart of New York. First though, the company plans to roll out free ATMs in underserved areas in Harlem and Queens, where fees average up to $3 per transaction.


Townsend is going to need more advertisers -- only a few have signed on so far -- but the concept is an intriguing one for businesses. Like at a gas pump, consumers are a captive audience at an ATM, even if only for 30 to 60 seconds.


But that's just enough time to sell a bar of soap or tickets to a show in New York. Big banks won't like it, but tough luck. A free ATM is a breath of fresh air in a banking industry that has long seemed to suck all the profits it can off of its customers, so the trend could be here to stay.


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

Dec 6, 2011 2:28PM
great. so now people will be targets for robbery even longer.
Dec 6, 2011 2:42PM
One thief in front of you and one from behind as you watch and wait... I hope no one uses these type of ATM's
Dec 6, 2011 3:19PM
I made the move to a Credit Union last month.  It's not that I have a lot of money, but it sends a message.  Look what we little people said to Netflix.  Stop messing with us.  If each of us makes a move from the Big Banks, together, we have a BIG voice.
Dec 6, 2011 3:11PM
I don't have to worry about ATM fees. My credit union reimburses them back to me. So I won't be watching any video.

Just what I want~an even longer wait in the ATM line! I already have to wait for slow pokes to sit there while they look at their receipt, put their money in their wallets/purses & get 'organized' ! They don't think to MOVE OUT OF THE WAY beFORE doing this! Yes, count your money~quickly, & check your receipt~quickly! THEN MOVE OUT OF THE WAY to get it all organized!  It takes a few seconds between cash & receipt, so there is time to do this without clogging up the line! NOW, we have to wait even longer? Nope. Not gonna fly! How do they know that we WANT to patronize the businesses or even consider it a 'good deal' who give us the coupons!

I agree with elliot irwin(not on 'BUSH IS GREAT'!)about the robbery thing. NOT safe!

Dec 6, 2011 3:42PM
It doesn't matter, folks, ads or no ads, the banks are going to find a way to gouge out money from people, be they customers or non-customers.. There is not a bank out there who gives a crap if we are their customers or not, they only care about raking in as much of OUR money as they can get and if it crosses ethical or moral lines, do you think they care?

Shoving advertisements down our throats in order to keep from paying a whopping fee sounds a lot like extortion.. Either watch or pay extra! I mean, come on, it's not like banks don't  already make billions off of us every year, now they have to resort to doing this garbage to make even MORE?

Give me a break!!
Dec 6, 2011 4:21PM

I too agree with Elliot and Glenn.....For years and years we have been taught about being "Safe" around ATMs. We are told to make sure our surroundings are clear before we even approach the ATM, to pay close attention to what's going on around us while we are conducting our ATM transaction, and to leave the ATM as quickly and safely as possible as soon as the transaction is completed.


Now some fool has come up with a "Gimmick" that will keep us hanging around the ATM for 30 to 60 seconds longer than usual, and a gimmick that draws our attention AWAY from what's going on around us, just so we can save a couple of dollars in ATM Fees. This is just absolutely asinine, IMO.

Frost Bank down here in Texas already has those little screens at the Drive Thru Lanes. Sitting safely in your car watching that screen during regular banking hours (daytime) is one thing, Watching that screen at 8:47PM in the dark trying to grab a quick $100 from your account is another. Again, asinine idea....period.

Dec 6, 2011 4:04PM
Switch to a Credit Union!  No fees on ATM's, checking accts, savings accts, and you get way better rates on CD's, loans, savings accts. You even accrue interest on your checking acct (unlike at regular banks, where they are actually the ones accruing the interest on YOUR MONEY!).
Dec 6, 2011 4:24PM
avatar person/company is doing it so it's therefore a trend..."a trend that might be here to stay." 

americans just love one person trends and one person being the voice of the majority.  way to go media people.

Dec 6, 2011 3:19PM
The key here is that the ads are supposed to be targetted at non-customers of the bank.  Just do not use any but your own bank's ATMs.  I don't and haven't paid an ATM fee in more than 20 years.  If your bank's ATMs are inconvenient, change to a bank who has convenient ones.
Dec 6, 2011 4:06PM
lines at my atm is allready long enough
Dec 6, 2011 3:46PM
Seems like a better ideal then making customers flip the bill. But I can see the banks position. For me a ATM is a convenience and it costs money to maintain and service the machine. I have always said their is no reason why banks should not charge a fee for using them. The problem is the fee's are too high for the convenience. If you charged me .50 cents for a transaction and charged me nothing for a deposit or a transfer. Then I would think that is fair. But many ATM's can easily charge you $6 because if its not one of your banks ATM's your going to have a fee and your bank will also charge a fee. Why is my own bank charging me to use someone else's ATM? If the Government does anything with these fee's. They should not allow a ATM fee to be charged by the operator of the ATM and the bank of the customer.
Dec 6, 2011 3:01PM
Where are you three getting your money and at what time? I have never been afraid to get money from an ATM and have never been scared or intimidated. Geez I don't what to hang with you people, sound s like you in the wrong place.
Dec 6, 2011 3:01PM

"No wonder people are marching in the streets protesting against big banks."


You are either ignorant, a liar, or an idiot.  They march for socialism/communism -whether the young and dumb twenty-somethings know it or NOT!

Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.


Smart Spending brings you the best money-saving tips from MSN Money and the rest of the Web. Join the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.