Understanding the No Fee ATM “Perk”

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When you withdraw funds from an ATM of a bank at which you have no account, you are generally assessed two fee’s. Both are ATM fees but one is charged by the ATM’s bank and one is charged by your own bank. When your bank tells you that you will have no ATM fees when you withdraw money from another bank’s ATM, they only mean that they won’t charge you a fee. Recently, a lot of banks have touted this benefit as a reason to take your banking needs to them, however they say it in a way that makes it sound you won’t be charged at all. That’s absolutely inaccurate. When you use another bank’s ATM, that bank will still charge you a fee.

Does this really matter? In most instances no, I’ve never paid an ATM fee in my life because I chose banks that are geographically large enough or I did some pre-planning whenever I was near an ATM. Luckily for me, Bank of America is everywhere I’ve ever needed it so it’s a non-issue. Bank of America also recently increased their ATM fees for non-BoA customers so if you have a choice, don’t use a BoA ATM, go elsewhere.

In fairness, some banks will actually pay the external fee for you, but the majority won’t; so keep that in mind the next time you think you’re getting “no fee” ATM access.

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “Understanding the No Fee ATM “Perk””

  1. RootAnn says:

    USAA (of which my husband is a member) does not charge you an ATM fee and is one of those lovely institutions which refunds the external fee. Their interest rate is not extremely competitive with some of the online banks, but on those rare occasions when I use an ATM, I pull out my USAA debit/credit/ATM card. I have no other ATM card.

  2. Cate says:

    Look for a small local bank. The ones without large ATM networks of their own frequently compensate by giving a generous monthly allowance to offset any ATM fees from other banks.

  3. Patrick says:

    I love USAA! 🙂

    As mentioned by RootAnn, there is no fee for using any institution’s ATM. (Not sure about international withdrawals, but I will check my account tonight, as I just returned from Europe).

    When I didn’t have a local bank, I would often go to Wal-Mart or a gas station to make a small purchase such as a pack of gum, then get cash back in the transaction. I had a friend who used to pull out $20 at a tie so he wouldn’t spend too much money – never paying attention to the fact he was paying almost $4 for that “privilege.” After I told him what I did he started going to Wal-Mart or gas stations to get cash.

  4. Al says:

    I use E*Trade bank – you pay the ATM fee and they reimburse your account at the same time they charge your account – no limits so you use the MOST convenient ATM. The non-customer ATM fee really irritates me. Why should I be forced to be a customer of one of the banking monoliths to avoid fees – I like my little local bank where they say and mean that they appreciate my business. BTW, I believe Fidelity’s new plan offers reimbursement

  5. azphx1972 says:

    ATM fees are a rip-off, but they are easy to avoid with a little planning and research. For example, while traveling internationally you can take advantage of the Global ATM Alliance to avoid racking up any fees.

  6. Rev says:

    Also credit unions have a co-op network. I can use ATMs at every 7-11 and the vast majority of other credit unions fee free.

  7. MoneyNing says:

    Some banks (like ETrade) give you a refund if another institution charges you for it so I can use that ATM card on those self owned ATM machines.

  8. Foobarista says:

    Many credit unions are in alliance networks so you can use the ATMs of other credit unions. Also, if your CU is a member of “The Co-op Network”, you can use ATMs in 7-11s for free.

  9. Star Money Articles for the Week of October 1

    Here are some recent interesting posts from the MoneyBlogNetwork and beyond: AllFinancialMatters has fun with math. MightyBargainHunter Five Cent Nickel says Zecco has modified its commission structure. Blueprint for Financial Prosperity discusses the …

  10. jimmydageek says:

    Many banks, including the online bank, ING, are part of Allpoint,, which does not charge a fee.

  11. Tori says:


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