Consumers losing the fight against ATM
the most recent version of the checking study.
are not just a convenience; they're a necessity for someone whose
free checking account depends on using ATMs instead of tellers.
But if you use an ATM that isn't owned by your financial
institution, you'll get hit hard with surcharges and, possibly,
other fees. It's important to carefully plan withdrawals for times
when you can access your own bank's ATMs.
Get used to it. Consumers are losing the battle against
Iowa, the only state that banned surcharges by state-chartered
banks, gave up the good fight this month. The state superintendent
of banking rescinded the ban after five national banks sued and
Here are the results of the Spring 2002 Checking Account
Pricing Study when it comes to ATMs:
The average surcharge for using an ATM that isn't one of your
bank's is at an all-time high, $1.47.
That's up 2 percent from a year ago.
The most common surcharge is $1.50, but more institutions
than ever before are charging $2.
Percentage of institutions surcharging
Ninety-nine percent of the institutions surveyed offer ATM
cards, and 90 percent of them assess surcharges. Compare that to
69 percent surcharging just three years ago.
Total cost of surcharging
Plenty of consumers get caught short of cash when they're not
near one of their bank's ATMs. Using General Accounting Office data
on the number of ATMs and non-bank ATM transactions, Bankrate.com
estimates that consumers will pay more than $2.2 billion this year
in ATM surcharges. That's up 18 percent from the 1999 estimate of
Another fee to use a non-bank ATM
It's not just the other bank that will charge you for using
its ATM; your own financial institution probably will also zap you
with a fee. That fee, on average, is $1.38, up 2 cents from October.
Eighty-eight percent of institutions charge their customers for
using non-bank ATMs. The most common charge is $1.50.
No charge for cash back at the register
A great way to get around the fees associated with using a
non-bank ATM is to use your ATM card when you go to the supermarket
and ask for cash back.
Eighty-five percent of institutions don't charge for
using an ATM card at so-called point-of-sale cash registers.
That's up from 77 percent three years ago.
Fees for having an ATM card
Some banks charge customers a monthly or annual fee just for
having or using an ATM card. Fortunately, they're few and far between;
just 9 percent of institutions surveyed. That number has been pretty
consistent since October 1999.
The most common fee is $12 per year; usually billed
as $1 per month.
Debit cards continue to be a popular offering, with 95 percent
of institutions surveyed having them. That's up 1 percent from last
fall. More than three-quarters of the institutions surveyed price
debit cards and ATM cards the same.
-- Posted: March 28, 2002