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Bank of America Raises ATM Fees: How Do You Avoid?

This article was written by in Banking. 12 comments.


At dinner last night, the conversation for some reason turned towards personal bank accounts and the banks that hold them. Bank of America has grown to a large presence in this area, and there were some complaints about their service. In particular, their fees are higher than other banks in some cases. Some at the dinner table have had difficulty with having BOA customer service representatives reverse fees, while other banks seem to be more willing to credit the customer when they call to ask.

This morning, the first news story I noticed was an item about Bank of American raising their ATM fees from $1 or $2 to $3. This is the fee the bank charges non-customers for using bank-owned cash machines.

There are a few ways to get around ATM fees.

  • Sign up for a bank account that refunds other banks ATM fees. Notably, USAA offers free ATM use anywhere and refunds fees charged by other banks (up to a limit).
  • Have a bank account at a bank that has plentiful cash machines in your area. I use Wachovia for my primary checking account and I can almost always find an ATM without driving out of my way.
  • Keep a minimum amount of cash at various banks. This would add more work with more bank statements and more information to keep track of. I try to stick with as few brick and mortar accounts as possible.
  • Make the ATM use worthwhile. If you have to take out cash somewhere and pay a fee, take more out. A $2 fee for $20 is an immediate loss of 10%, a bad investment. A $2 fee for $200 is only a 1% loss, which is more attractive.
  • Use cash sparingly. If you never have to take cash out because you pay for everything by credit card, not only do you get a statement with all of your expenditures outlined, but you avoid unnecessary fees (as long as you pay the card’s balance in full every month).

How do you avoid ATM fees?

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published September 13, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 12 comments }

avatar ib

i use your tips #2 & 5. in the past (long past) i have used #4.

i avoid atm fees by almost never using the atm. and when i do use it, it’s at my home brick and morter bank’s atm’s which are plentiful where i live (i used to have wells fargo and then switched to a diff bank out of extreme dissatisfaction with wells [diff. bank got swallowed by WaMu] and when i moved, i closed it and opened Peoples acct since plentiful here, which has been bought out….tdbanknorth).

i also almost exclusively use credit cards for purchases, paying in full each month (even when it hurts so it won’t hurt more later). i seldom use the cash i keep on hand. it’s mostly used for emergencies (like cab ride if it came up) or tiny purchases or farmers market purchases since it’s cash only. i replenish when needed and keep other cash hidden at home in case of an emergency.

although i probably won’t do it, anytime soon anyway, i thought the suggestion of keeping many balances over a range of banks was a good idea for being able to atm some $ in more places.
i like to keep things as simple as possible though so that wouldn’t fit into my scheme really.

i have one electronic bank acct for savings (ing). 3 accts at the brick and mortar (checking, joint & savings — this one preceeded the ing acct).

avatar Raymond

You can avoid ATM fees by never using ATMS to begin with. I make all of my purchases by using rewards credit cards exclusively. Why get nothing for using cash, when you can get 3% or 5% cash/rewards for buying ordinary items.

avatar Brian

My strategy is similar to the previous commenters – I rarely use an ATM. In the rare instance I need cash, I just drive to my local branch and make a withdrawal. Of course, this rise in fees doesn’t affect me as I bank with Bank of America anyway.

avatar Tim

if i need cash, i go into a grocery store or walmart or the like buy a drink or something that i need and get cash from my debit card. often you can get up to $100 back on a debit card doing this.

avatar dong

I went to the dark side, I have a BOA purely ATM use. I mean in the end if the account is free as the MyChecking account is – I’m ok banking with Bank of America. BOA’s customer’s service has been good enough for me whenever I’ve visited a branch.

Otherwise I’m with the others, I avoid cash when I can. Still I’m going to him an ATM at least 3 times a month, and I rather not pay for that.

avatar Mrs. Micah

If I have to withdraw money (and haven’t gotten cashback) then I like to buy chapstick. Preferably @ a CVS, so I can get their generic, which is about the same as the brand name stuff. Then I get cashback.

Generic chapstick–99 cents. Saves $2.01 on the fees. Plus I don’t feel like I’m buying something useless or extraneous, I have a plan. And this doesn’t happen much, so I just store the chapstick in my briefcase until I run out.

avatar Interrobanger

Amazing. Except… not. The banks think they can get away with anything. I don’t bank with BofA, and I guarantee you I will skip their ATMs from now on. I’ll never use another — cash back from the register when grocery shopping it is for me.

I’m actually working with a merchant group calling attention to some of these fees — not ATM fees specifically, but we’re all in the same boat here. We’re online at UnfairCreditCardFees.com, dealing with what you might call ATM fees for merchants — transaction fees, all the same.

And like the ATM fees, these bank fees only ever go up, even though the technology and communication costs only ever go downward. Just outrageous.

avatar Interrobanger

P.S. I hope the URL mention is not gratuitous. I am not intending to spam.

avatar t

grocery store cash back from a debit card works great.

avatar Adventures In Money Making

I bank with Bank of America, so this isn’t a concern, but the only place I use cash is the vending machine at work.

Every single place else (except ARCO gas stations) accept credit cards, and I get reward points too.

The only exception is if i’m making a large purchase and I’ll ask if they give discounts for cash. If they do, then I pay cash.

avatar thomas

I have BOA so not too bad, however banking fees are just getting ridiculous.

avatar Yana

I would love to open an account with USAA, but don’t qualify since I don’t have military connections. I avoid ATM fees by rarely using cash. I use a debit card for most purchases, and can get cashback free that way. I think it is a very good thing to have at least 3 brick and mortar banks for various purposes and also because too much money or too many types of accounts at one bank seems like an invitation for the bank to screw you. I think this is a good idea even if you don’t have much money, as long as you get free checking accounts at each bank. I do not pay any bank fees. ING is my only bank that I can’t walk into, and I like it very much. Using the internet, ING and especially PayPal creates risk to the user, so one of my banks is especially for this kind of risky business. I get a bit nervous if there is too much money in my PayPal linked bank, as trying to get customer service from PayPal is like pulling teeth without the tools to do it.

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