3 Strategies to Avoid Soaring ATM Fees – Business Advice and Resources

3 Strategies to Avoid Soaring ATM Fees

by sshrx_ns3li1

You\r
probably don’t need a survey or statistic to alert you that ATM fees are higher than ever. But in case you do: Earlier this month,\r
Bankrate.com released a survey of 25 banks in large cities, which concluded that the\r
average cost of using an out-of-network ATM is now\r
$4.52, a record.\r
\r
That’s the amount of the national average ATM surcharge ($2.88) plus the average fee to\r
use another bank’s ATM ($1.64), because generally, if you use another\r
bank’s ATM, you’re hit twice. The out-of-network bank will charge you,\r
and your own bank will, too.\r
\r
And,\r
of course, $4.52 is only the national average. If you’re in New York City and\r
get money from an out-of-network ATM, on average, you’ll pay a little\r
over $5, according to Bankrate’s data. And if both banks have\r
above-average surcharges, the price to access your money becomes\r
even more expensive.\r
\r
Of\r
course, talk to bankers, and they’ll tell you there’s a reason for those\r
fees: Banks have to\r
maintain the ATMs.\r
\r
One\r
can argue that the fees are nonetheless too high, but if you’re interested in\r
exactly what goes into the maintenance of an ATM, here’s a quick breakdown from\r
John Oxford, director of corporate communication and external affairs at\r
Renasant Bank, a regional bank headquartered in Tupelo, Mississippi:\r
\r
Government compliance. Many laws dictate how banks must operate. ATMs had to be upgraded\r
in recent years to be compliant with the American with\r
Disabilities Act, Oxford says.\r
\r
Fraud protection. No surprise here, if you consider how frequently identity theft occurs. "ATMs\r
have had to add skimmer detection and other items such as higher-quality\r
cameras and lighting to make sure clients are and feel safe," Oxford\r
says.\r
\r
Maintenance\r
and service. It isn’t just that money needs to be routinely stocked into\r
the ATM, lest money run out. There’s insurance to pay on the ATM, and the bank\r
leases the property where the ATM is located, Oxford says.\r
\r
EMV\r
chip compliance. You’ve heard about how credit cards are being revamped with\r
embedded microchips that will store and better protect cardholder’s\r
information. ATMs need to be ready for that and upgraded, Oxford says.\r
\r
There is another cost as well, which\r
consumers often overlook, says John Pataky, an executive vice president at\r
EverBank, a financial services company that offers online banking: The price tag of the machines themselves. \r
\r
"Some machines are owned by the institution, but many are leased from\r
the major players in the industry, Diebold and NCR," he says.\r
\r
Still,\r
while there may be a reason for higher fees, that doesn’t mean you have to help\r
shoulder those costs. If you are tired of being hosed by ATM fees, try these strategies.\r
\r
Analyze your banking life. If you don’t like paying ATM fees,\r
make sure you use an ATM that belongs to your bank or is within its ATM network. The\r
symbols alerting you to what network you can use should be on the back of\r
your debit card, or you can inquire at your bank.\r
\r
That\r
said, even if you know what you’re doing, sometimes you need cash\r
in a hurry, and even the biggest banks can’t afford to have their ATMs on every\r
street corner. So if you continually find yourself using an out-of-network ATM and being charged a fee, ask yourself: What’s going on? When does this most often occur?\r
\r
If\r
this seems to happen frequently, you’re probably not\r
taking enough money out when you visit your bank’s ATM, and there’s your\r
problem. In other words, there’s probably a simple fix in your\r
routine to keep you from running short on cash. \r
\r
Maybe,\r
for instance, you should download your bank’s or credit union’s mobile app on\r
your phone, or visit its website and look for fee-free ATMs you\r
can use. Maybe it’ll turn out that you frequently use an ATM that’s out of\r
network when two blocks away, there’s one in your bank’s network.\r
\r
Take cash out at the grocery or drugstore. Here’s a simple\r
fix. Many retail establishments, including grocery stores, will let you take out\r
some cash, often up to $50 – and almost\r
always without a fee. Assuming you shop fairly regularly, take out a little extra as needed when you\r
shop, and you could make using the ATM a thing of the\r
past.\r
\r
Get a better bank. Maybe you need to find a financial institution that doesn’t foist a hefty fee every time you use an out-of-network bank, or\r
one that at least has more ATMs in its network. You may want to try an online\r
bank; many reimburse ATM fees, although some of those banks require you to keep\r
a hefty amount of money in your checking account to qualify.\r
\r
You could also consider switching to a\r
credit union. These operate like banks but are nonprofits that serve their\r
members rather than maximizing corporate profits (which isn’t to say that\r
members never complain about them, or that they never have high fees).\r
\r
"Nearly all credit unions\r
participate in a shared ATM network that provides surcharge-free access to\r
their members’ accounts. No single bank can boast as many ATM locations as the\r
CO-OP Network, the largest credit union-owned, surcharge-free ATM network with\r
nearly 30,000 locations nationwide," says Mike Schenk, a vice president of\r
economics and statistics with the Credit Union National Association.\r
\r
Whatever you do, try\r
to avoid paying ATM fees. If you take out $20, for instance, and you’re paying\r
a collective $5 to two different banks, you’ve just lost 25 percent of\r
that cash to two easily avoidable fees. If you aren’t paying attention to\r
your ATM fees, it may seem like only a few dollars here and there, but that’s exactly what banks are\r
banking on..

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