Most of us should never have to pay an ATM fee. With the proliferation of credit card processing systems into almost every retail store, there are very few situations when we should actually need paper cash. Many of us don’t even carry cash anymore, which isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it does put us in a bit of a conundrum in the event that we need to pay for something without a check or a credit/debit card.
In this situation, we often get stuck using an anytime teller machine (ATM) to get cash from our accounts. If it’s an ATM that’s owned by your bank, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s just like writing a check to yourself. If it’s an ATM that’s owned by a bank or a payment processing network, chances are you’re going to be dinged with a hefty transaction fee, which could now be as high as $5.00 for individuals who aren’t customers of the Bank who owns the ATM, or even up to $10.00 at some Las Vegas Casinos.
A few years ago, we might expect to pay around $1.50 or $2.00 per transaction, but times are changing and ATM fees are going through the roof. Bankrate.com does an annual survey of ATM charges, and they’ve found that the average price of an ATM charge was up by 13% between 2007 and 2008 to just under $3.50 per transaction. That’s an increase of almost 45 cents per transaction in just one year’s time.
We should never, ever, get stuck with an ATM, especially since there are a lot of other ways to get cash for free, including using your debit card at a grocery store, or by using an ATM that’s affiliate with your bank’s network of ATM machines. Alternatively, you could sign up with one of many internet-based checking accounts which will refund any ATM fees that you incur. These banks typically do not have ATM networks of their own, but instead simply refund their customers ATM fees as a cost of doing business.
There are a lot of ways for us to get cash from our accounts without paying a fee, but the best way to do it is to take out a certain dollar amount from your checking account on the first of every month and put it in your wallet. You can use that money for any transactions that require you to pay with cash and can continue to pay with your debit or credit card for everything else. It’s a matter of planning and discipline. We should have a pretty good idea of what our expenses are and whether or not there’s a possibility of us needing to pay with cash, and if there is, simply take the money out ahead of time and have it ready for when you need it.