You now live in a world where carrying a debit card is virtually a must. From grocery shopping to buying big-ticket items, the debit card in your wallet has replaced the checkbook for accessing funds without having to carry around obscenely large amounts of cash.
These necessities of modern life have their own unique drawbacks, however. Anyone who uses them, and that’s most people, knows that if you use your debit card at an ATM owned by your bank, it doesn’t cost you anything extra. But use your debit card in any other ATM and there’s a fee attached that can range from one to three dollars, and more sometimes. And what are the chances that you’ll be near one of your bank’s ATM machines when you need it?
Try to see it from your bank’s perspective. ATM transactions are called “convenience” transactions. The bank offers this service as a convenience to its customers, but makes no income from the service. In fact, it costs them money to maintain the ATM machines. So when people who don’t have accounts with your bank want to use your bank’s ATM machine to get money, it costs your bank even more. The way the bank gets some of that cost back is by charging the person using the ATM a surcharge.
That makes sense for the bank, but it means money out of your pocket if you aren’t within easy distance of one of your own bank’s ATM machines. But now, thanks in part to banks trying to lure more customers away from competing banks, some institutions are starting to reimburse ATM surcharges, or even waive them altogether. If it gets them more customers to deposit their money, the banks figure it’s worth the cost of a few ATM transactions. Here is a partial list of banks that have no ATM fee or reimburse customers for surcharges they’ve had to pay.
Bank of the Internet: ATM fees are reimbursed the same day they are incurred, up to a limit that differs depending on what type of account the holder has.
First Internet Bank: This internet-based bank will reimburse up to six dollars a month in ATM surcharges.
Founder’s Bank and Trust of Grand Rapids, Michigan: A local bank that allows accounts to be opened from anywhere online. Their ATM cards can be used anywhere in the world. Four ATM transactions will be reimbursed per month.
Institutions like MB Financial, E*Trade, or Charles Schwab Bank: Absolutely no ATM fees, so long as a substantial minimum bank account balance is maintained, usually around two thousand dollars or higher depending on the type of account.
Key Bank Privilege and Privilege select accounts: The first reimburses up to six dollars a month in surcharges, the other reimburses all surcharges. But, if your combined account balances drops below $25,000, a “maintenance fee” gets charged to you.
Before you go switching from a bank you’ve been with for years to one listed here, call and ask a representative if they have a program or account type that has reduced ATM fees, or reimburses the surcharges. It may be that your bank has something similar to the ones listed here and just isn’t advertising it. Using a debit card is a convenient way of accessing your cash without having to carry it with you. And reducing or eliminating your ATM fees is a great way to keep more of your cash for yourself.