How to Avoid ATM Fees


Here, paying cash is something we generally try to avoid. But what’s worse than missing out credit card rewards with a cash purchase, it means not having cash in hand for the purchase and having to pay ATM fees.

Here are five of the best ways to avoid those painful ATM fees.

Plan ahead

It may seem obvious, but the best way to avoid paying ATM fees is to be prepared for when you need to pay cash. Then you can choose an option and have cash on hand when you need it rather than being caught out in the moment and frantically searching for an ATM nearby.

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Think about your activities in advance. If you’re going to an event that requires paid parking, you can guess it might require some cash. Likewise, your local county fair may accept credit cards for some things, but you should make sure you have enough cash to pay for games and fried treats if not.


Also, it’s always a good idea to pack a few emergency cash. Keeping a few twenty in your wallet is a great way to ensure you never get caught out of cash and incur ATM fees.

Related: Save on ATM fees abroad

Stay in the network

If you know in advance that you need to withdraw money, going to an ATM in your bank’s network is probably the easiest option. If the ATM is in their network, your bank will not charge you out-of-network ATM fees. While you’re at it, go ahead and get a little more cash than you think you need to have that emergency stash in your wallet.

For example, if you have a Chase debit card, you’ll want to find a Chase ATM to lower your fees. Conversely, if you use your Chase debit card to withdraw cash at a Bank of America ATM, you will be charged an out-of-network ATM fee.

Get cash back

If you don’t have an ATM in your banks network nearby, getting cash back at a store is another great option to avoid out-of-network ATM fees. Just make a small purchase at a store, like a pack of chewing gum, and pay with your debit card.

At checkout, you can either notify the cashier or select the auto-checkout button to request cash back. At this point, the process is very much like an ATM: you simply request the amount of money you need. Apart from the small purchase, you get your money without having to pay any fees.

Use mobile payments

Sometimes you run out of emergency cash and realize a merchant doesn’t accept credit cards. Before rushing to an ATM, ask if it accepts mobile payments. Sometimes a merchant may scan a card into your mobile wallet even though they don’t have a physical card reader. If so, setting up your mobile wallet can save you the cost of ATM fees.


Reimbursement of ATM fees

Some banks actually refund ATM fees, so opening an account with one is a great option. With one of these accounts, you can have much more peace of mind when you need last minute cash.

If you want to go this route, the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account is a great option. In addition to reimbursing ATM fees on domestic purchases, having this account is also great when spending abroad. Use the debit card associated with this account to avoid foreign transaction fees and to ensure you are reimbursed for international ATM fees. Also, this account has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees.

Related: Accounts to avoid ATM fees abroad

At the end of the line

Don’t add insult to injury when you have to pay cash for a purchase while also paying ATM fees. Plan ahead and withdraw cash at an ATM in your bank’s network or at a store to ensure you are prepared when you find yourself in a cash-only situation. Additionally, set up your mobile wallet and consider opening a bank account that reimburses ATM fees. With these strategies in place, you should be able to avoid paying out-of-network ATM fees.

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