Ever find yourself in need of cash after bank hours? You run around looking for your bank’s automated teller machine, but there are none to be found. It would be great if your bank had an ATM on every corner, but unfortunately that’s not very realistic. So, you might be forced to use another bank’s ATM. Here’s what you will have to pay for using an out-of-network ATM at the 10 biggest banks in America (oh, and you might want to keep looking for your bank’s nearest ATM by the way).
According to a July banking analysis by MyBankTracker.com, the average cost of out-of-network ATM fees at the 10 biggest banks in America is at $2.45 — that’s a 10 cents increase from last quarter’s average of $2.35. Currently, the highest withdrawal fee at the 10 biggest banks can be found at TD Bank, where they’re charging $3 for each withdrawal, transfer and balance inquiry conducted at a non-TD Bank ATM. Chase and Capital One charge their customers $2 for using out-of-network ATMs, which is the lowest fee charged by a bank for this type of transaction.
Here are the out-of-network ATM fees at the 10 largest U.S. banks:
Although taking cash out of the nearest ATM is extremely convenient, you must pay for this convenience — literally! When you use ATM machines that are outside of your bank’s ATM network regularly, these seemingly harmless $2 to $3 fees can seriously add up and become rather expensive. Not to mention that you are additionally responsible for any fees charged by the ATM operator that may also add a surcharge to the amount of the withdrawal or charge a fee for a balance inquiry even if the transfer or withdrawal is not completed.
Out-of-network fee hikes
Since MyBankTracker’s Spring 2014 analysis on out-of-network ATM fees, two of the 10 largest banks in America have raised their fees. Citibank’s fee hike went into effect on April 7, 2014, while SunTrust Bank raised their fee on May 1, 2014. This isn’t the first time out-of-network ATM fees have been raised at a big bank recently. In fact, Bank of America started this trend of increases back in November 2013.
Citibank, SunTrust and Bank of America have all increased the fees they charge for out-of-network ATM transactions, including withdrawals, balance inquiries, and transfers in the U.S. from $2 to $2.50. The fee hike has not yet extended to using ATMs located outside the U.S.
SunTrust is no longer one of the banks that offers the lowest fees to customers who use out-of-network ATMs after increasing the transaction fee from $2 to $2.50. Regarding this change, SunTrust spokesperson Hugh Suhr said, “We evaluate the pricing of our products and services on an ongoing basis and make adjustments as necessary based on many factors including, but not limited to, the competitive marketplace and our costs associated with providing those services.”
Exceptions from fee hikes
Note: Citibank’s out-of-network ATM fee will be waived for the following accounts: Citigold Account Package, Basic Banking Package (the first signer must be 62 years of age or older), Citibank Account Package (account holder must maintain $15,000 or greater combined average monthly balances in eligible linked accounts), and Citibank Student Account Package. Grandfathered accounts that have a waiver for this fee will also not be impacted by the change.
For SunTrust customers, ATM fees will not apply for Signature Advantage Banking account holders since all transactions done at non-SunTrust ATMs are waived and all ATM surcharge fees are refunded for this account.
For all other Citibank and SunTrust customers who make frequent use of out-of-network ATMs, you may want to consider switching to another checking account or reviewing your financial habits to make adjustments for the change.
Ways to avoid out-of-network ATM fees
In the past few years, many brick-and-mortar bank customers have converted to online banking — with higher yield and no ATM fees being strong factors to switch. Ultimately, consumers aren’t looking for a bank with the lowest out-of-network fee, but hoping to avoid it altogether. Although this seems unrealistic — all of the 10 largest banks in America charge for this type of transaction — there are still ways you can get away with paying zero for those annoying out-of-network ATM transactions.
The most obvious way you can avoid any ATM fees is by getting cash at your bank since withdrawals at branches are always free. For cash withdrawals after regular bank hours and holidays, the best way to avoid this fee is by using an ATM that belongs to your financial institution. Try going on your bank’s website to locate your bank or look for one an ATM close to you. These banks have a network of thousands of automated teller machines, so identify the ones that are convenient for you to get to. Another trick to getting cash for free is through a debit card transaction since many stores will give you an option for cash back after you make any purchase — for free.
Note that many financial institutions have partnered ATM networks that you can use without any surcharge. ATM networks like Allpoint and STAR offer greater access to surcharge-free ATMs for banking customers across the country, while the CO-OP ATM network allows surcharge-free access to the ATMs of all the partnered credit unions.
If all else fails, you can also follow the footsteps of the online bank converters and switch to an online bank, like Ally Bank, which offers fee waiver or reimbursement on what you accumulate using out-of-network ATMs. If you’re not quite ready to change banks, you may want to consider switching to a different checking account as many banks offer waivers for these fees depending on the type of account you have or if you fulfill certain requirements.