Say “NO” to ATM Fees: 4 Quick Ways to Avoid Paying Them

by Connie Mei · 3 comments

Have you ever been in a hurry, in need of cash, and forced to use an out-of-bank ATM with exorbitant fees?

I, unfortunately, have experienced this recently. I found myself at a take-out restaurant that only accepted cash and the closest branch of my bank was over 10 blocks away. Instead of doing a mad sprint in that direction, I decided to use a ATM at a convenience store across the street. Much to my dismay, however, I realized I was charged a $4 transaction fee when I only needed 20 bucks.

According to a recent survey, the average cost to U.S. consumers for using an ATM outside of their bank network is $4.13. While that may seem like only a few bucks, imagine spending it on a latte at Starbucks, or other little indulgence, instead of forking it over for ATM fees.

In 2015, I’m saying “NO” to ATM fees and you should too. Here are 4 easy ways to stop paying ATM fees this year.

1. Stay Within Your Network

The easiest way to avoid ATM fees is to use your bank’s own ATM. This takes a little more effort on your part, as  you have to know where the locations are. You also have to keep an eye on your wallet so you know when you’re running low on cash, and can plan ahead to use an ATM within your network.

Finding an ATM, if you use a major bank such as Chase or Bank Of America, shouldn’t be a problem. They are nearly on every corner, and they offer free mobile apps that help determine the closest locations. But if you don’t have an account with a larger bank, be sure to plan ahead.

Many smaller banks are part of no-fee ATM networks, such as Allpoint Network or MoneyPass. Find out if your bank is one of their partners, and if so, you can check out that network’s website to find the closest ATM, and avoid any extra ATM fees.

2. Switch to Online-Only Banks

Brick-and-mortar banks definitely have a leg-up on features and extras they can offer because they have physical locations. But online banks are well aware of this competitive disadvantage and taking steps to entice customers to bank with them instead.

Which means you could save a bit of money, earn slightly higher interest rate, and get other nice perks by switching to online banking.

Online banks, such as Ally Bank or even an investing-centric bank like Charles Schwab, do not charge any fees to use an ATM because they don’t have exclusive locations. They share networks like the ones mentioned above, and because of this are able to reimburse you for any fees.

3. Make Less Trips But Withdraw More

Find yourself running out of cash constantly and having to run to the bank all the time? The simple solution is to withdraw more each time so you can make less trips to the bank. It’s as simple as that.

Do some quick math and figure out how much cash you need in advance each week. Then calculate a little bit extra for other necessities or things that pop up. Just be sure to not spend the extra money if you don’t truly need it.

A good way to avoid paying any last-minute ATM fees is to keep 2-weeks worth of cash on hand, as much as possible.

4. Get Cash Back While Shopping

If you want to avoid ATMs all together, consider asking for cash back every time you check out at the supermarket, drugstore, or Post Office, when using your debit card. During the check out process, many of the point of sale systems offer the choice to receive cash back on your purchase.

All you have to do is click the button, name your amount (usually there’s a limit of a $100), and receive cash without paying any ATM fees. Just make sure to check whether or not that store charges a fee for cash back, although most usually don’t.

You’re likely going to the grocery story, or Post Office, once-a-week so this will save you time and money.

Say “NO” to ATM Fees This Year

Keep more of your hard-earned money for things you want and need to buy, don’t hand them over to banks for free. If you follow these tips and plan accordingly, you can say “good riddance!” to ATM fees.

Before heading out this week, take a quick moment to think about where you’re going, and if you need to cash. By simply planning ahead, you’ll never have to pay an ATM fee again.

How do you avoid paying ATM fees? Do you have another tip that you use to save money?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Patricia says:

    FEWER trips; not less trips


  • Scott says:

    5. Switch to a bank that refunds all ATM fees worldwide. Bangor Savings Bank in Maine ( does this. For foreign ATMs that often don’t list a separate fee they refund a flat $3. They are a traditional bank with branches. I bank with them and is great to never have to care what fees an ATM charges. Look for a similar bank in your state.

  • Walter says:

    1. Stay Within Your Network
    Resp: I do all my banking at a Credit Union, they have over 30,000 members with fee free ATM’s. Easy to look up. Be aware of location of members.
    2. Switch to Online-Only Banks
    Resp: I have been looking at Ally and others, right now my CU is entirely free, auto-deposit saves any monthly fees. Not against this just haven’t taken plunge.
    3. Make Less Trips But Withdraw More
    Resp: I went to a cash/debit card system back in 2009. W/D all but $100 in case of emergency. Use envelope system. Only limited by daily W/D limit.
    4. Get Cash Back While Shopping
    Resp: This is the only suggestion I have an issue with. My self-control is suspect so if I don’t have it I don’t spend it. Planning is the key.

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