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Avoid bank tellers, save cash

Banks are saving money by replacing tellers with technology, which could mean savings for customers who embrace teller-free banking.

By MSN Money Partner May 16, 2012 12:01PM

This post comes from Kelli B. Grant at partner site SmartMoney.


As banks continue to push the self-serve approach, many consumers are finding it may be cheaper to get service without a smile.


Image: Cash machine (© Compassionate Eye Foundation/Getty Images/Getty Images)A growing number of banks are adding feature-laden ATMs, video tellers and other technologies to let customers complete a wider variety of banking tasks on their own, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.


For example, you might be able to purchase a money order or withdraw cash in increments other than $20 bills. Some banks estimate they have cut costs by up to 40% by trading tellers for technology.


Experts say banking customers who prefer seeing a teller won't pay more than they currently are for the privilege. Since banks still use branches as sales floors to push everything from credit cards to savings accounts, they're unlikely to stop making tellers available, says Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for rate-tracker


Do-it-yourself savings

More likely, they say, consumers will see banks waive fees for do-it-yourself banking. "Some accounts are designed for more self-service," McBride says. For example, Bank of America's eBanking account is free for accountholders who choose emailed statements and use ATMs and online access to make deposits and withdrawals. Want to use a teller? The usual $8.95 monthly fee kicks back in.


Most consumers can switch to teller-less banking easily, says Stephanie Wei, vice president of deposit products for NerdWallet, a comparison site. But she adds there are still a few cases where it's usually better to seek out help from a professional, such as arranging wire transfers, ordering foreign currency or obtaining a signature guarantee.


A teller is also the best option for any task that needs immediate processing: ATMs may not process checks deposited until the end of the day, while a teller can often make funds available immediately.

Even if there's no fee waiver at hand, accountholders can still benefit from the new technology. Chase said it saw a 40% reduction in lines at locations testing its new high-tech ATMs, reports the Journal.


More from SmartMoney and MSN Money:

May 16, 2012 5:14PM
If ATM's are saving the bank's money, then why do they charge fees?  Besides, I prefer to deal with people.  I also do what I can to preserve American jobs.

May 16, 2012 6:36PM
No, I wouldn't like banks to go mostly machine or ATM.  I'm not always a fan of a miserable teller either,  but I am a fan of people working. The more people working the better. There are a lot of banks in the US and I'm sure it works better for employment percentages.
May 16, 2012 3:52PM

ATM's are great for a quick withdrawl.

After that, I prefer seeing and talking to a teller. And if I have to wait 10 minutes, Oh well.

( If thats the worst that happens, I got it made)


May 16, 2012 5:36PM

Uhm... no. Banks make to much money as it is. The people who run them are like eyes on the patrens. They know who you are and know you by name... mostly. A machine can be ignorant and carry no personal touch. I would avoid banks who go total or mostly machine. I don't even use the auto check outs at the local box store. So... no.

May 16, 2012 4:13PM
I will not use an ATM.  I will not use a drive-up.  I will not use a self-serve check out in a store.  Every time you do these things you are depriving someone of a job.  Greedy banks and greedy stores just want people's money without providing any people benefits.  All this should exist for the benefit of people, not some damned cash drawer.
May 16, 2012 5:09PM
  ATM's are great when they are used to reduce the numbers of tellers and not replace them all. I despise going into businesses like Home Depot or Shoppers food where they have 6 self serve checkouts and one checker with 10 people in line. We're forced to suffer through phone tag with most companies, push1 for this push 2 for that it's really annoying and i've never seen this lack of customer service to lower costs only increase profit for their 80 million a year CEO.
May 17, 2012 1:28AM
This can go either way. I love being able to walk into a bank to make the occasional transaction and have the teller and staff know me by name. Sometimes there is a line to wait in and sometimes that line goes slow. On the other hand I am like a lot of people that use the bank ATM to get some cash. This would be fine except for the fact that the bank now lets you do most normal transactions through the ATM. Deposits, balance inquiries, cash withdrawal, transfers etc. There is usually one or two ATMs on the property and the lines can be 10 to 20 deep. And what happens? Two or three of those people in front of you do NOT know how to use the machine or they don't read English. They don'y have their stuff ready fo their transactions before they get up to the machine, they have to start looking for their card or check or deposit or PIN number, they can't get their PINs to work, they jam their card into the slot over and over again (which usually shuts down the machine), their deposit is so wrinkled from being in their pocket or purse all day that the machine can't read it and they keep trying to make the transaction, etc. It's so frustrating. I have started carrying my checkbook when I know that I will be at the bank ATM during banking hours and if there is a long line or someone takes longer than 5 minutes at the machine, I go to a teller. The first thing they say is, "Why didn't you use the ATM?". I tell them that they need to make it mandatory that all customers go through a training course to use the ATM for all transactions because the lines are too long due to ill prepared customers. One ATM cannot replace 4-8 tellers for convenience and quickness. I complain to management and customer service and they are alway "looking into the problem" but nothing ever gets done. The idea of an ATM being convenient sounds good but the plan of action to carry it out and make it work is terrible. I guess they are too cheap to invest in several ATMs on each bank property to handle a lot of customers. The bean counters don't actually physically watch the flow at each facility to see the actual needs. They just see tellers replaced with one or two machines and the savings they have based on the ATM manufacturers data on how long a "typical transaction takes" which was probably done and tested by the developers and designers in a lab and not in real world situations.
May 16, 2012 9:54PM
Sure, we will put more people on the unemployment line!!!  I would rather pay a few extra bucks just so they can have a job!!!  What happens when the ATM goes down?  No one at the driveup window anymore!  What happens when the computer goes down at the ATM or there is not enough cash there to hand out?  How long are you willing to wait?  What would happen if someone just pulled the plug on all computer systems all together?  Then what?  Your going to have a cashier standing if front of an ATM machine handing out money and writing down all the transactions until they get things figured out?  NOT!  That would be called a Fire Sale.
May 17, 2012 12:17AM

These surveys don't ever seem to have the right responses.  "Do you prefer an ATM or a teller ?"  For cash, an ATM is fine.  But for anything else, I prefer a teller.

May 16, 2012 8:59PM
Just what we need, even less jobs for people. Corporations don't care as long as they get maximum profits, benefits those at the top.
May 16, 2012 3:54PM
Most all banks today seem like they are run buy crooks that suck you for any FEE THEY CAN THINK OF , if they are doing away with Tellers than things should not have the fees they do .
May 16, 2012 7:36PM
For the 13% who don't use your banks ATM change banks dude mine doesn't charge for ATM use at the bank. I get most of my cash at either Wal-mart or HEB grocery and they don't charge either..
May 17, 2012 10:16AM
A vote for yes is a vote to take a job away from someone.  And when you use a self-service cash register at the grocery store, you're promoting the same thing. It really is as simple as this.
May 16, 2012 9:06PM
What I like most about ATM is that they don't try to sell you anything to make a quota for sales for that day.
May 17, 2012 8:31AM
I use both. Tellers and ATM. Depends on what my business is at that time. The ATM is faster, but the teller can answer questions and offers services the ATM cannot.
May 16, 2012 10:57PM

I saw this coming 20 years ago when I was a bank teller, working my way through college.


An online transaction costs the bank 2 cents.  The same transaction with a teller costs the bank $2.00.  You do the math.



May 16, 2012 11:23PM

Give it time, and they'll turn the savings from not paying tellers into yet more fees (above and beyond the fees associated to using a non bank networked ATM, which already hurts the customer's bottom line)... They they might like to pass costs onto customers, passing savings, well....  This would also give them more to pad the pockets of their top execs with bonuses, along the way....


Just remember what BofA and others tried to do with the debit card fee, arguing it as a convenience fee (exactly what they can turn around and due with the ATMs here); even though the banks SAVED (the reason for the initial push when they tried to get merchants to honor them); all on the grounds that they wouldn't have to process paper checks... In the end, the banks would be all for saving a dime in a way that could allow them to pass another usery fee onto the customer (hence getting more money out of people, vs paying a salary).... Oh they might not right away (even as it was years before they tried that with debit cards); but give it time....

May 17, 2012 3:14AM

I was a teller and got wrote up for a quota that the bankers did not fill.

I got people to the bankers, but they have to sign them up for the solution (sale), but this was my fault. So just be warned tellers are looking at your history to find something to get you to a banker. Even if you don't need that something, got to get that quota, right

Just Saying

May 17, 2012 8:04AM

My bank uses tellerless banking. As long as I use the ATM for all of my banking and do not use checks I pay no service fees. I was hesitant at first but I now find this to be a very good way of banking. The only issue I have is that they need to provide more drive up ATMs to speed up the time you have to wait to get to your business.

May 16, 2012 11:02PM
Here is a curious thought.  I am a physician and work with people all day, every day.  Yet, I seek out any chance that I get to: pay-at-the-pump, use self-check-out, atm over the human being mediated transaction.
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