Five dollars just doesn’t have the same purchasing power it used to – at least not in IL, where Chase Bank is charging non-Chase Bank customers $5 to access their ATM. The only place I’ve ever seen $5 ATM fees is in a casino, where you expect ATM fees to be high. But you don’t expect to see a $5 ATM fee when you are randomly walking down Main Street. And by the way, that $5 fee is on top of any fees the customer’s bank charges, so that single cash withdrawal could cost a non-Chase customer $8 or more. Not a happy prospect just to access a little cash.
The bad news is that this is happening on a trial basis and if Chase doesn’t notice a substantial change in the profitability of transactions at their ATMs, then these increased ATM fees will be rolled out across more states. And where one bank goes, more are sure to follow – just look at the current interest rates.
What are your choices? I use a cash rewards credit card for almost all purchases, but I usually carry about $40-$60 in cash which I use at local businesses or small purchases. If I think I might need more, then I will go to the bank and pick it up so I don’t have to pay ATM fees. If you just happen to be out and about and your bank isn’t near by, then try to find another ATM with a lower fee.
You can also get creative. One of my favorite ways to save money on ATM fees is to buy something from a store and get cash back. I will go into a grocery store and buy a pack of gum just to get $20 or $40 cash back. It’s cheaper than using the ATM and you get something to show for your money.
Use Free ATMs. You can also change banks. Of course, this is a drastic step, but it may be worth looking into. Some banks offer to refund ATM fees for customers (up to a certain point), and others are part of the Allpoint ATM Network, which is a large network of ATMs which don’t charge member banks fees. A similar network is STARsf®, which features 37,000 surcharge-free ATMs in their network (PerkStreet Financial is a prominent example).
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