Tuesday, September 08, 2009

How To Save On ATM Fees

Friends don't let friends pay ATM fees...

In the wake of the mortgage crisis, banks are hungry for revenue, especially cash.  Just because they have lost their shirts in making bad loans and now trying to recoup their losses by charging higher fees for transactions that might have once been free (or less costly), don't "pay" again to bail them out.

This past weekend, I went to an awesome wedding at an awesome hotel.  The day after, a friend was going to use an ATM machine in the awesome, multi-star hotel that we were staying at and I stopped him.  "Do you know how much that fee is going to be?  They are going to charge you a fee from the bank, the ATM owner, and then your home bank, too.  You are going to get socked big time," I explained.  In the end, my buddy decided not to use the machine (well at least he didn't do it when I was around).  It breaks my heart when people pay ATM fees unnecessarily.

However, in the course of your daily life, especially when traveling on trips, there are times when you need to withdraw cash for food, cabs, etc., anywhere credit/debit cards are not accepted.  Using a non-bank ATM, or another bank's ATM that's not your own can be costly.  According to Bankrate, "the average ATM withdraw fee is $1.97," and that was quoted from an article written in October 2008, before things really started to fall off the cliff with the economy.  And, that's just an average and one part of their entire transaction. 

Sometimes, these fees are inevitable: you are in a foreign city (or country), you are in Vegas and feel a streak coming on and you need cash, whatever.  Before you use that "foreign" ATM, a little proper planning ahead can save you some cash.  If you know exactly where you are going to be when you go out, a little pre-planning will save you.  Here are a few tips: 1) use your bank's ATM mapping service online.  Here are a few links here: 

--Bank of America

Links may change, so when in doubt, visit your bank's webpage.

2) If you don't have a web connection handy, use your bank's 800 number ATM locator.  The easiest way to look that up is to simply look at the back of your ATM card.

3) Bring extra cash ahead of time.  Sometimes we don't want to roll out with more cash than we need for many reasons.  But, if you are in a big group in a safe area, it's worth it to avoid unnecessary fees.

Consumer's Edge Success Stories

A friend on the west coast will be sharing his shortly on how he saved on Internet access.  More later..