Tips to Avoid ATM Fees

Time To Read 2 MIN READ

Date: October 28, 2016

You go to an ATM machine to get money, not to spend it, but you could end up paying more than a little change to receive those $20 bills. If an ATM charges you money to get money, your bank also typically charges you a fee to use that ATM. Avoid wasting money when you access your own cash by arming yourself with these great tips.


Get Off Scot-Free: No-Fee ATMs

The best way to beat ATM fees is to use fee-free machines. Most banks offer their customers free ATM withdrawals from their branch locations. Change banks if yours doesn't. Print a list of your bank's branches from its website, or upload a mobile app that helps you find the nearest branch so you don't have to go elsewhere. Find out if your bank has reciprocal no-ATM-fee agreements with other banks, inside or outside the country, and make note of these, too.


Food for Thought

Even if you're just buying a pack of gum, many stores offer cash back — for free — when you pay with a debit card. The amount you can take is limited in some stores, but you can also pick up cash at pharmacies, drug stores and even U.S. Post Offices. Don't forget to keep track of your cash withdrawals or monthly expenses, so you can keep an eye on your account balance.


Bank with a Brokerage

You may think of Charles Schwab as a brokerage firm, not a bank, but you can keep money in your Schwab account without putting it into stocks and bonds. The firm offers debit cards that allow customers to access their own cash. Schwab doesn't have ATM machines, so the firm allows you to use any ATM for free. Schwab will reimburse you if the bank whose ATM you use charges a fee.


Use Online Banks

Online banks provide the same fee-waiver that Schwab offers, and for the same reasons. They don't have branch offices with ATM machines because they're online. Modern customers may hesitate to bank with a financial institution that doesn't offer cash access, so these banks usually issue debit cards and allow you to use them in any bank without charging you a fee. Most of them also reimburse you for any fee the other bank may charge you.