Today it has become all but optional to carry cash. Smart devices are now able to store financial data and process payments to the point where some people don't even carry wallets anymore! Plus, ATMs are everywhere. In the course of your average day, you may spy ATMs at banks, airports, grocery stores, nightclubs, movie theaters and even street corners. But when it comes to fees, not all ATMs are created equal. In the same way, not all fees are created equal. For instance, you may pay one fee if you withdraw from an ATM associated with a bank where you have an account, another fee if you withdraw from an unassociated ATM, and still another fee if you withdraw from an overseas ATM. There are also many more fees where those came from—some of which are not so obvious.

1. Check with your bank before withdrawing from any non-bank ATM

Sometimes banks—in an effort to keep customers loyal—will reimburse bank customers for non-bank ATM fees. In a reverse tactic with the same intention, sometimes banks will charge their customers a "foreign ATM fee" for using a non-bank ATM, which in effect means you pay even more for the privilege of withdrawing cash on the go!

Tips to avoid paying: Be sure you know your bank's policies for handling ATM usage—preferably before you choose which merchant to bank with, but definitely before you use any ATM anywhere to withdraw funds from your account.

2. Verify fees for overseas ATM transactions

Even if you can find your own bank's ATMs out of the country, this doesn’t mean you won’t pay a foreign transaction fee. This fee may encompass currency conversion, administrative costs and other costs as well.

Tips to avoid paying: Not only is it always a good idea to notify your bank when you’ll be accessing your account from out of the country, but you should also verify how much (if any) you’ll pay in fees when you use foreign ATMs—even if they’re owned and operated by your bank. This way you can manage your cash needs accordingly.

3. Verify account minimums and maximums at your home bank

In an effort to remain attractive to customers in an increasingly competitive financial industry, some banks are offering creative incentive programs, such as free checking when you use ATMs instead of bank tellers to conduct bank business. But here, there also tends to be fine print that can negate the benefits. For instance, you may be required to conduct a minimum (or maximum) number of ATM transactions per month. You may also be required to only bank at in-bank ATMs or hefty fees will be levied.

Tips to avoid paying: Be sure to read the fine print before accepting any incentive offer to switch banks or open an account at a new bank.


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