5 U.S. cities with the lowest ATM fees

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Surprise! ATM fees have actually decreased a little bit over the past year.

The average total ATM fee is $4.64, down eight cents compared to 2019, according to Bankrate’s 2020 checking account and ATM fee study. It hasn’t been that low since 2016, and has only decreased five times since Bankrate’s study began.

No matter whether you’re using a checking account, savings account or money market account to withdraw cash, going to an out-of-network ATM can be expensive.

There are two components of an ATM fee: the ATM surcharge, which is the fee that ATM owners charge non-customers, and the fee that your bank charges you to use an ATM outside of its network. The average ATM surcharge ($3.08) is almost twice as expensive as the average fee to use the other ATM.

ATM fees vary by bank and not every city has the same banks. This is one reason why ATM fees can vary in different cities.

The Windy City has the lowest total ATM fees

Chicago went from having the fourth highest total ATM fee in 2019 ($5.14) to the lowest total ATM fee of $4.11 in 2020. This is out of the 25 major markets that Bankrate surveys.

Los Angeles ($4.17), Seattle ($4.19), Boston ($4.28) and Cincinnati ($4.31) have the lowest ATM fees out of these surveyed markets.

In the Chicago, Naperville and Elgin metropolitan area, Chase (21.6 percent of the market share), BMO Harris (16.2 percent) and Bank of America (around 9 percent) have the highest market shares based on deposits, as of June 30, 2020, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC).

Los Angeles (increased two cents) and Cincinnati (increased a penny) both had their ATM fees increase slightly from the 2019 survey. Seattle’s average total ATM fee decreased two cents and Boston had its average total ATM fee decrease by a penny compared with last year’s survey. 

Cities with the lowest ATM fees in 2020

City 2020 avg. total fee Avg.  surcharge Avg. fee to use other ATM 2019 avg. total  fee
1. Chicago $4.11 $2.95 $1.16 $5.14
2. Los Angeles $4.17 $3.00 $1.17 $4.15
3. Seattle $4.19 $2.81 $1.38 $4.21
4. Boston $4.28 $3.20 $1.08 $4.29
5. Cincinnati $4.31 $3.00 $1.31 $4.30

Chicago actually didn’t have the lowest average fee to use another bank’s ATM or the lowest average ATM surcharge. Boston ($1.08) had the lowest average fee to use the other bank’s ATM and Chicago was the second least expensive, eight cents higher than Boston.

Seattle had the lowest average ATM surcharge ($2.81) and Chicago had the sixth lowest one, 14 cents higher than Seattle.

Atlanta ($5.60), Tampa ($5.20) and Detroit ($5.18) have the highest total ATM fees. Atlanta ($2.40), Tampa ($2.12), Detroit ($1.98) and Baltimore ($1.98) have the highest fee to use other ATMs. Phoenix ($3.38), Cleveland ($3.33) and Houston ($3.25) have the highest average ATM surcharges.

How to minimize your ATM fees

Even the lowest ATM fees are expensive. It’s best to try and plan your ATM strategy to avoid these fees.

Some things to consider doing to help you pay less to access your money:

  • Have an account with a bank that reimburses ATM fees.
  • Bank with a bank that has a large ATM network.
  • Go to a store that will give you cash back during your debit card purchase.

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