Why Are ATM Fees So High?

The rising cost of ATM withdrawals has many Americans looking for other ways to get quick access to cash.

By Rhonda FanningOctober 4, 2017 2:48 pm

We’ve all been there – in need of immediate cash, and ready to hit “accept” before noticing that there’s a fee for using the ATM. A few years ago, when the charge was typically only a dollar or so, ATM fees were easy to ignore. These days, ATM fees can be above $5, which is a high price for convenience.

A new survey by bankrate.com looks at ATM fees across the country.

When you make a withdrawal from an ATM there are two fees involved, says Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com which conducted the study. The first fee goes to the owner of the ATM, and averages around $3 according to McBride. The second goes to your bank. Those fees tend to be in the $2.50 range. 

Not all banks and credit unions tack on those fees, McBride says. Some will even reimburse their customers for the ATM fees they are charged. But unfortunately this practice is not very common.

The cost of ATM transactions has been on the rise for years, and some cities are worse than others when it comes to hefty withdrawal charges. The easiest solution, according to McBride, is getting cash back when you make a small purchase at a grocery or corner store, instead of using an ATM. That way, you can avoid the fees altogether.

Hear where Texas cities fall in terms of ATM fees in the player above.


Written by Nahila Bonfiglio.