5 Alternatives to Paying Double at the ATM

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5 Alternatives to Paying Double at the ATM
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Stopping for bite at your favorite bistro and they don’t take debit or credit cards?

You’ll pay more than ever to withdraw cash from an ATM not affiliated with your bank.  ATM fees come in two flavors. One fee charged by the independent machine operators in which a Government Accountability Office study found ranges from $1.50-$3.00.

The second fee is charged by your bank or credit union. These transactions are known as out-of-network fees.

The Bankrate.com 2015 annual survey shows that the average fee for an out-network ATM is $4.52. Visit an out-of-network ATM a few times per week and the transactions fees will top several hundred dollars each year.


There are plenty of reasons to opt for cash in lieu of electronic transactions. For instance:

  • Stopping to get cash for the teenage baby sitter who provided last minute kid coverage.
  • Leaving a tip for certain service professionals (i.e. nail technicians) who don’t offer a tip line when paying with your debit card.
  • Opting to pay cash for a taxi ride rather than risk ID theft using questionable, unmonitored terminals in the back seat.

ATMs are operated by banks, credit unions, and independent parties who provide the service as a convenience. However, with the expense of operating these machines on the rise, look to pay more for this luxury as banks seek to maximize income streams.

The preferred approach to avoiding the double whammy ATM fee would be to visit your bank or use a bank or in-network ATM. When this isn’t feasible, consider the following options to avoid paying twice on each withdrawal.

1.       Reimburse the friend paying with cash electronically. When out with friends and cash is required, take advantage of quick pay services that allow you to transfer funds with a phone and an email address. If one of person has a Chase checking account, Chase QuickPay allows you to easily exchange funds and avoid ATM transaction fees.  PayPal, Venmo, and Google Wallet are apps that provide the same service and don’t charge a fee to send money between pals. PayPal is free as long as the transaction involves funds in PayPal or a bank account. A small fee will be incurred if using a debit or credit card. Each of these services operates independently of the banks involved in the transaction.

2.       Download in-network ATMs locators. Before you need the next ATM, download the ATM locator app for your bank or the participating network. If your bank or credit union doesn’t offer the app explicitly, contact customer service and identify the ATM network. That service will likely provide a surcharge-free ATM locator which comes in handy when traveling out of your immediate area.

3.       Get cash back with a purchase. Buying mints, a pack of gum, or something you actually need at a grocery or convenience store will save money versus visiting out-of-network ATMs in a pinch. The drawback here could the cash back limitation.

4.       Open a second online account. If your bank or credit union doesn’t offer convenient ATM access and switching banks is out of the question, open a second bank account. Online banks such as Ally reimburse out-of-network ATMs up to $10 a month.  Simple doesn’t charge a fee at all. Use the apps mentioned above to transfer funds – to yourself – or locate free ATMs to avoid double transaction fees.

5.       Plan ahead if using cash is the only option. Find a new favorite bistro that allows accepts multiple forms of payment, transfer the tip electronically to your favorite nail service provider, or walk when you’re low on cash or can’t get to a free ATM.

A little advanced preparation can save you hundreds of dollars each year in ATM transaction fees.

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