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Understanding the No Fee ATM “Perk”

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.