Since you may encounter fees when using certain ATMs, you should be familiar with the different types of possible charges on ATM transactions. Just like paying to use a toll way, these fees give you the convenience of using an ATM at many locations anytime, day or night.
There are two primary types of fees associated with ATM cash withdrawals. A surcharge, or convenience fee, may be charged by the ATM owner to the cardholder in exchange for using the ATM. This fee is designed to cover the cost of operating, maintaining and supplying the ATM with cash. ATMs are required by law to inform you of this fee, which may appear on the ATM screen before you finish your transaction request, or on a sign on the machine. The amount of the fee will vary.
The second type of ATM fee, known as a “foreign” fee, may be charged to you by your bank or credit union when you use an ATM that is outside its ATM network. Unlike surcharges, this charge is not assessed by the machine or its owner and therefore is not advertised at the time and place of the transaction. However, the fee is covered as part of your financial institution’s disclosures to cardholders.
Reduce fees at the ATM
Not all ATM transactions will be charged both a surcharge and a foreign fee. In fact, many ATM transactions carry no consumer fees at all. There are several ways to reduce or eliminate ATM charges:Use your own institution’s ATMs. Today, most financial institutions charge no surcharge or fees on ATM transactions conducted by their cardholders at their ATMs. Check to determine which ATMs fall within your financial institution’s network and find out the potential costs, if any, associated with using these machines.
Take the “cash back” option. At many retail locations, cardholders can get additional cash with PIN debit purchases without incurring a fee. In many cases, the point-of-sale terminal will automatically ask you if you want cash back before you complete your transaction.
Understand your financial institution’s surcharge policies and options. As the cardholder, empower yourself! It’s important for you to know the details of your own bank’s or credit union’s fee structure to determine the total cost of an ATM transaction. In addition, find out whether it participates in a surcharge-free ATM network or offers surcharge reimbursements.
By working with your financial institution, you can begin to understand when, where and in what circumstances ATM fees may apply to you. And the more you know, the less it will cost to access your cash.