Four Ways To Beat ATM Fees

Use these four strategies to avoid paying annoying ATM fees.

Person entering a PIN number at ATM.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When you use an out-of-network ATM, you may be hit with a double whammy when it comes to fees, facing charges from both your bank and the ATM operator. In fact, a recent survey from Bankrate found that on average, you’ll pay a record-high $4.73 in total fees for an out-of-network transaction.

Want to hold on to that cash? Here are some tips for getting around those pesky fees.

Four ways to beat the fees

One way to beat the fees is to use ATMs within your financial institution’s network. Your bank may operate its own machines, participate in a broad network such as Allpoint or MoneyPass, or both. 

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Citibank customers, for example, can withdraw cash fee-free from machines at Citi branches as well as at MoneyPass ATMs. Customers of Ally Bank, an online institution, can make surcharge-free withdrawals from ATMs in the Allpoint network.

Another option is to sign up for a checking account that reimburses out-of-network fees. TD Bank, for example, refunds such charges (and waives its monthly maintenance fee) if you have a minimum of $2,500 in its Beyond Checking account Online bank Axos Bank reimburses ATM fees with its Essential, Rewards and CashBack checking accounts — and the accounts charge no monthly fees.

A third trick: While you’re shopping, see whether you can get cash back at checkout when you make a purchase with your debit card. Target and Lowe’s, for example, allow this. This option usually comes with no fee, but stores commonly impose a limit of $40 to $50 per transaction.

If triggering out-of-network fees is unavoidable, consider withdrawing larger amounts of cash at each ATM visit to reduce the number of withdrawals you make and the amount of the fees you pay. If you need only $20 now, for example, take out $100 and save the extra money for later.

Bottom line

Planning is the key to avoiding ATM fees. While most merchants take credit and debit cards, there are times when only cash is accepted. Make note of these expenses and set a reminder to get some cash at your bank’s ATM or get cash back when you make a purchase. You could also use a petty cash box to keep some money around for those days when you are short on time and can’t make it to the bank.  

Note: This item first appeared in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, a monthly, trustworthy source of advice and guidance. Subscribe to help you make more money and keep more of the money you make here.

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Ella Vincent
Staff Writer

Ella Vincent is a personal finance writer who has written about credit, retirement, and employment issues. She has previously written for Motley Fool and Yahoo Finance. She enjoys going to concerts in her native Chicago and watching basketball.