This Mistake at the ATM Could Be Costing You $240 a Year

If you’re concerned about the fees you’re being charged when you withdraw money from ATMs, a new report has some insights you need to know about.
Bankrate’s annual Checking Account and ATM Fee Study reveals that Americans continue to pay an average surcharge of just over $3 every time they use an out-of-network ATM.
While the exact figure — $3.08 — is one penny cheaper than last year’s record high, Team Clark and money expert Clark Howard want you to save money and bring that figure to zero!
Let’s look at some of the dollar amounts ATM users are being charged, according to the Bankrate study.

How Much Are You Paying in ATM Fees?

Average fee assessed by the machine owner for using an ATM out of your network $3.08
Average fee assessed by your bank for using an ATM out of your network $1.56
Total $4.64

At the rate above, if you withdraw money just once a week from an out-of-network ATM, you’d end up paying $241.28 in a year!

3 Ways to Avoid ATM Fees

With a little forethought, you can find ways to sidestep those ATM fees and keep more of your money. Here are some ways to avoid ATM fees.

1. Join a Fee-Free Bank

Clark says one way to steer clear of ATM fees is to open accounts with banks that eat the fees for you or give you a certain number of free withdrawals.

"A couple of examples are USAA and Charles Schwab,"  Clark says. "Plus, many of the credit unions that have large co-op networks offer free ATMs."

2. Withdraw at Your Local Supermarket

“Many supermarkets will give you up to $200 at the register, fee-free,” Clark says. This also helps the stores, because it cuts down the amount of cash they have to process at the end of each day.

For example, Sam's Club allows you to get up to $100 cash back when you check out.

3. Download an ATM Locator App

One of the most convenient ways to avoid fees is to use an app to find fee-free ATMs. 
There are several such apps available in the App Store and Google Play that show you only surcharge-free networks. Here are a few:

Final Thoughts

The easiest way to avoid ATM fees is to stay within your bank’s network, but that isn’t always possible. Most banks’ websites have lists of their branches and ATM locations. You can also Google that information.
If you’ve got some time to plan, look into credit unions and smaller banks reimburse your ATM fees.

Want to learn more about getting access to your money for free? Here's how to find a free ATM near you.

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