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Diatribe: ATM Fees.


000000angry-atm96-crop-600x338Many years ago, a friend offered me an opportunity to purchase an Automated Teller Machine. He was the manager of a new mini-mart in the area and had already been asked by several customers for the location of the nearest ATM.

“It’s easy money!” he said.  “All we have to do is keep it stocked with cash and collect fees. The bank does everything else!”

He really thought he was onto something and was doing me a huge favor by sharing his investment advice. He thought he’d found “easy money”. I thought he was nuts! Why would I want to leave thousands of dollars of my own money, cash mind you, in a machine at the back of a gas station just in case the opportunity to collect a few little fees might present itself?!  Who would be dumb enough to pay a fee to get their own cash out of my machine? No, thank you.

I politely turned down his offer.  However, many times over the years, I’ve wondered if he might have been onto something.

000000It turns out that many, many people are paying ATM fees.  According to an analysis verified by SNL Financial, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo … America’s three biggest banks … earned more than $6.4 billion last year from ATM and overdraft fees! That works out to more than $25 in fees annually for every American adult!

I rarely carry cash.  When I do, it’s not because I’ve gone to a bank and it’s almost never because I’ve gone to an Automated Teller Machine.  According to Bankrate, the average fee for using an “out-of-network” ATM in the United States is $4.57.  WHAT?!

Who’s paying these fees?!

Almost any establishment where a Debit Card is accepted will allow customers to receive a minimal amount of cash back at the time of payment. Many retailers and grocers allow customers to receive as much as one hundred dollars cash back.  That’s what I do when I need cash! It’s convenient, safer than an isolated ATM and it’s FREE.

Had I realized back then that American are willing to pay BILLIONS in fees to access their own cash, I might already be retired after years of traveling from machine to machine filling each with crisp twenty-dollar bills.

Do you pay ATM Fees?


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From → Diatribes

  1. Anonymous permalink

    Never! I bank with Chase Bank and they have ATMs everywhere in my area. And, like you said, sometimes get cash back in a retail store. You make a good point about this being more safe than some ATM settings. Good idea.


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