Automatic teller machines, commonly known as ATMs today, have been a huge boon to consumers, making it much quicker and easier to get access to the cash held in their bank accounts. That said, they have also been a major source of profits to the financial institutions that own them due to high ATM fees, and it is clear that is not going to change in the near future.
According to the latest data from Bankrate.com, the average fee for an out-of-network ATM increased to $4.52 per transaction this year, while the average overdraft fee topped out at $33.07. These figures represent record highs ATM fees and overdraft fees for the 18 years that records have been kept.
The 2015 Bankrate survey is based on data from 243 institutions that offered both interest and non-interest checking accounts between July 9th and August 5th of this year.
More on rapid increases in bank fees
Analysts note that we are seeing an ongoing trend of steep fee hikes from banks across the board. Taking the most recent figures into account, out-of-network ATM fees have skyrocketed 21% over the last five years.
Keep in mind that virtually all financial institutions allow account holders to access the bank’s network of ATMs for free. This means you are only charged ATM fees when you use an ATM that is not a part of your bank’s network. In that case, you are typically charged two fees (from the owner of ATM and the bank network) that now add up to an average of $4.52.
Although free checking accounts are a bit more difficult to find than they used to be, a solid 37% of non-interest bearing checking accounts are still completely free and do not charge to use bank network ATMs. This means that bank fees are “completely avoidable” if you shop around, according to Greg McBride, Bankrate.com’s chief financial analyst.
Breakdown of ATM fees by city
Atlanta topped the list of the most expensive places to get cash from an out-of-network ATM, with an average fee of $5.15, and New York City was the second most expensive with an average fee of $5.03. Somewhat surprisingly, San Francisco, California turns out to have the lowest average fee for an out-of-network ATM at a mere $3.85.