Need Cash and Can’t Find Your Bank? It’ll Cost You

Are you a sucker? Do you want to be separated from more and more of your money? If you’re on the way to the bank to get cash and I say to you, “brother can you spare a five?,” do you happily hand it over?

Are you a bank customer who is just waiting to be scalped by one of the big banks, who—like big airlines charging you more and more for bags—are looking to live large on the outrageous charges levied against average customers?

You could be.

Indeed, whether you live in Atlanta or New York City, many big city bank customers can be paying through the nose when they go to their ATMs to get their own money (See below). For instance, when you’re away from your neighborhood bank in New York City and need cash you’re going to dig deep.

That’s according to a new Bankrate.com survey, which says the New York City metro area has second highest out-of-network ATM fees in the United States. When you don’t use your bank’s ATM it is costing you an average of $5.03 compared to the national average of $4.52, Bankrate said.

“Five dollars a pop to get your own money is nothing to sneeze at. All those $5 charges can add up,” said Claes Bell, an analyst with Bankrate.

Exactly, do it twenty times in a month and you’ve thrown away $100. Hey, if you don’t want $100, please give it to GregoryBresiger.com. My partner, the speedy Liam Judge of County Tyrone, and I would be delighted.

And your average overdraft fees are also pricey here, some $33.58 compared to $33.07 for the national average Bankrate said. And remember overdrafts, which can come with interest charges of 20 percent or more, are probably the most pricey, self-destructive way of borrowing money.

Why?

Overdrafts are unsecured debts. So there is usually higher delinquency rate than other forms of debt, which have some asset backing them.

Still, both banking industry spokesmen and critics say these overdraft and ATM fees are avoidable. But if you don’t have a minimum account—-with a certain balance you can sidestep many of these charges—you’re usually paying a lot.

Bankrate found that those who don’t meet those requirements for free checking are now paying higher fees. The average monthly maintenance fee posted a double-digit gain in this year’s survey. Those rose some 11% to a new high of $5.86. Increases outnumbered decreases 10-to-1, and the most common fee is now $12 a month, according to Bankrate.

Bankrate surveyed 10 banks and thrifts in each of 25 large U.S. markets from July 9 to Aug. 5, 2015.

Why did they find ATM and other fees rising?

“I don’t know,” Bell says. But he said that fees are becoming a big profit center for banks and speculated that is because banks aren’t making enough from loans.

However, a bank industry spokesman said these fees often are a non-issue for smart consumers. He actually made the case that one group of customers are, in effect, subsidizing another group of customers.

“Consumers can easily avoid ATM fees, and most do. Out-of-network fees help cover the costs of providing a convenient service so that a bank’s customers aren’t paying to subsidize non-customers.” according to Nessa Feddis, senior vice president and deputy chief counsel for consumer protection and protection for the American Bankers Association (ABA).

How to get around these pesky fees?

Keep a minimum balance and avoid most of them, which the banking industry says is happening. Indeed, Feddis adds that “our very recent survey shows that most consumers don’t pay any fees for bank services (including ATM fees, checking account maintenance fees, etc.).

Still, fees can be a big issue for some customers, whose free checking is based on the direct deposit of paychecks.

“We’re starting to see more of a threshold — $500 a month, $1,000 a month,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate. “That can be an issue for part-time workers or even retirees in some cases.”

But what else should consumers do to avoid dropping $5 a transaction just to get their money? Bell offers various strategies to keep from getting hosed by your fee-happy banker:

*Before going out, there are apps that can direct you to your nearest bank

*If you bank at one of the smaller banks, some of them have set up a regional ATM network at Seven/Elevens.

*Take $20 or so from your debit card and make a small purchase at a chain drug store. Use the change as cash to avoid going to an out-of-network bank and triggering a big fee.

Highest Average ATM Fees
1. Atlanta $5.15
2. New York $5.03
3. Phoenix $4.88
4. Miami $4.84
5. Milwaukee $4.78

Source: Bankrate.com

About The Author

Gregory Bresiger

Gregory Bresiger is an independent business journalist from Queens, New York. His Personal Finance articles have appeared in publications such as The New York Post & Financial Advisor Magazine. He is the author of the eBooks “Personal Finance For People Who Hate Personal Finance” and “MoneySense”.