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Hate ATM fees? Get your bank to pay

By Claes Bell ·
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Posted: 1 pm ET

If you're one of the many people who really hate paying banks' ATM fees, don't get mad, get reimbursed. Lots of banks offer checking accounts with ATM fee reimbursement as a key perk.

Fifth Third Bank in particular is running a promotion offering ATM reimbursements on checking accounts for new customers who sign up by Aug. 15. From Rick Rothacker at the Charlotte Observer:

For customers who sign up, Fifth Third won't charge fees for using another bank's ATM, up to 10 transactions per month. It also will automatically reimburse these customers for fees levied by the ATM's operator.

ATM fee reimbursement has long been a standby of many regional-to-small banks, credit unions and online banks, which offer it in lieu of the kind of massive nationwide ATM network fielded by the bigs in the banking industry.

Typically, checking accounts that offer it provide a set amount of ATM reimbursement for account holders, limited either by dollar amount or number of transactions. ATM fee reimbursement is an especially common feature of high-yield checking accounts, which give you a small but better-than-nothing return on your cash reserves.

I think ATM fee reimbursement is a win-win for regional-to-small banks and their customers. By offering ATM fee reimbursement, smaller banks don't have to compete on the basis of having a ubiquitous ATM network. ATMs are really pricey to build and maintain; an article on in March pegged banks' cost for maintaining an ATM not attached to a branch at $15,000 a year. Multiply that times several thousand ATM locations and you're talking about real money, even for a bank. Having their customers just use other banks' ATMs helps them avoid that cost.

Bank customers also win, because they can save a little bit on their ATM withdrawals without having to hunt down an ATM for their particular bank.

What do you think? Is freedom from ATM fees enough to get your banking business? Could this be a way to finally end the scourge of ATM fee vigilantism?

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July 02, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I am a Chase account holder, I think it is a crock raising fees to $5, I believe if you get enough people going to the store and overwriting a check to get additional cash, over the course of time the banks with get the message, basically all they are is extensions to your bank accounts

June 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

The main reason that I bank with Bank Of America is that they have branches everywhere and their ATMs are very easy to find. If a local or regional bank offered me ATM fee reimbursement, that would be a good reason to switch banks.

June 24, 2011 at 9:06 am

State Bank & Trust Co. in Atlanta, Georgia offers no fee ATM usage. As one of the top Community Banks in the United States State Bank & Trust also has no restrictions to the number of times you can withdraw from any foreign ATM with no fees. State Bank & Trust charges no fees to use a Foreing ATM as well as reimbursing you when the foreign bank charges you a fee.