Checking Study: ATM fees keep climbing
the most recent version of the checking study.
Fees don't end with those pertaining to checking accounts, of
ATM fees have been an equally expensive proposition for many account
Here are the key findings on ATM fees:
Average fee to use another
bank's ATM: The average fee a bank charges
a customer for using another institution's ATM bounced to a new
high, jumping from $1.29 to $1.35.
This comes after a two-year period where the average
fee showed little change, fluctuating between $1.28 and $1.30.
In the four years from 1998 to 2002, the average jumped
nearly 19 percent, from $1.08 in fall 1998 to $1.28 in fall 2002.
The most common fee assessed by banks continued to be $1.50, though
the $2 fee is gaining in popularity.
In the latest study, 64 institutions charged a $2
fee, up from 53 institutions in the prior edition of the survey.
Average ATM surcharge: The
average fee that ATM owners charge noncustomers increased from $1.37
to $1.40, a high-water mark reached only once before in fall 2003.
The average surcharge has shown little movement in the past four
years, compared to a rapid ascent between 1998 and 2000. The average
surcharge has increased 40 percent in the past six years. The most
common fee continues to be $1.50, with nearly half of banks that
surcharge non-account holders assessing that fee.
Percent of institutions with
ATMs that surcharge: Of the institutions surveyed that have
ATMs, the percentage that assesses surcharges remained just below
91 percent. This ratio is lower than the levels sustained from fall
2000 through 2003, when the percentage of institutions with ATMs
that surcharged was between 93 percent and 94 percent.
The decline in the past two years is due to institution
changes and banks, such as Washington Mutual, offering surcharge-free
ATMs nationwide. The current prevalence of surcharging is still
sharply higher than the late 1990s. Six years ago, in the spring
1999 edition of the survey, 74 percent of the banks with ATMs that
were surveyed assessed surcharges.
Annual cost estimate of non-bank
ATM withdrawals -- in billions: Americans waste nearly $4
billion each year making ATM withdrawals at the "wrong"
bank's ATM. Bankrate.com derived the estimate of the total cost
of non-bank ATM usage -- both surcharges and the fees charged by
customers' own banks for withdrawals at non-bank ATMs.
This estimate is based upon the latest Bankrate.com
data for both ATM surcharges and fees assessed for using other banks'
ATMs, and GAO data on the number of ATMs and non-customer transactions
per ATM. The 2005 annual cost estimate of non-bank ATM withdrawals
comes to $3.993 billion. Deriving an estimate for prior periods
reveals this as a new high, though the estimate would have ranged
between $3.4 billion and $3.9 billion over the past five years.
However, the current estimate is still 44 percent
higher than the spring 1999 estimate of $2.77 billion. ATM fees
-- both surcharges and the non-bank ATM withdrawal fee -- still
exact a significant penalty for using a non-bank ATM, especially
for small withdrawals.