It's costing you more every year to have access to your own money. ATM fees and surcharges are steadily increasing, building profits for the banks and costing the average family hundreds of dollars a year.

The amounts may seem insignificant: $1.50 here and $1.00 there, but if you routinely use ATMs to withdraw small amounts of cash from your bank account, you may be paying up to 15% or 20%.

Both your own bank and the bank that owns the ATM will usually charge you a fee for using an ATM that doesn't belong to your bank. According to, the average surcharge for using an ATM that doesn't belong to your own bank is $1.50, and more and more banks are charging $2.00. Add your bank's fee for using an out-of-network ATM, and you may end up paying a total of anywhere between $3.00 and $4.00. If you withdraw $20 at a time, which many people do, you end up paying a 15% to 20% surcharge just to get the use of your own cash.

Some banks require you to use ATMs instead of live tellers in order to have free checking. If your bank is one of these, and you use an ATM that isn't owned by your bank, you'll pay fees.

ATM fees are big business and are adding millions of dollars to many banks' bottom lines, at your expense. Based on data from the US General Accounting Office, estimates that consumers will pay $2.2 billion this year in ATM surcharges.

How Can Avoid or Reduce ATM Fees and Surcharges?

Plan your cash withdrawals when you can access your own bank's ATMs.
Look for other ATMs that don't surcharge.
Plan ahead, and withdraw more cash at a time.
Use your ATM card to get cash back when you purchase something at a point-of-sale cash register, such as the grocery store.
When traveling, use travelers checks, personal checks, or credit cards.
Avoid ATMs in convenience stores, hotels, casinos, restaurants, and similar locations. They tend to charge higher fees.
Refuse to do business with banks that charge ATM fees and surcharges.

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