You can save money on ATM cash withdrawal fees if you only use in-network ATMs or open an account that will cover the fee. Before exploring the options, it's important to understand that there are two potential fees for withdrawing cash. Your bank might charge you a fee for using an out-of-network ATM, and the ATM's operator might charge you an additional fee for using their machine. But these four approaches can help you avoid both of those fees.
1. Use Your Financial Institution's ATM
Most financial institutions let you use their ATMs without any additional charges. Some banks and credit unions even have ATMs you can access with your phone rather than your debit card. These can be more convenient and safer to use because you can leave your debit card at home and don't have to worry about it being lost or stolen.
2. Find a Partner ATM
You can also look to see if your financial institution partners with other organizations to give you access to additional free ATMs.
For example, if you open an account at a credit union that only has branches in your region or state, you may still be able to get basic services and free cash withdrawals at partner credit unions through the Co-op Shared Branch program.
Financial institutions may also be part of a larger ATM network and let you make fee-free cash withdrawals at any of these machines. The networks, like AllPoint and MoneyPass, have tens of thousands of locations, including many inside popular big-box stores and supermarkets. The online-only banks that don't have any branches or ATMs of their own commonly use them to give customers access to fee-free ATMs, but some larger banks and credit unions also work with one of these networks.
You may be able to find a detailed map of the machines and the closest fee-free ATM using your bank's app or an app from the ATM network.
3. Use an Account That Refunds ATM Fees
Some accounts won't charge you ATM fees even if you use an out-of-network ATM. However, the ATM operators could still charge you a fee to withdraw cash. To get around this, look for accounts that refund ATM fees.
The limits and requirements can depend on the account. For example, some accounts might refund up to $10 in ATM fees each month, while others might refund your first five fees regardless of the amount. If you're traveling, look to see if the refunds are limited to withdrawals in the U.S. or if they'll apply to international ATM fees as well.
You may need to meet certain requirements, such as maintaining a minimum daily or monthly balance, to remain eligible for the ATM fee refund benefit. However, there are also accounts that offer refunds without any additional or ongoing requirements.
4. Skip the ATM Altogether
Instead of withdrawing cash from an ATM, you could get cash back when you make a purchase with your debit card. You have to buy something and the store might impose a limit on how much cash back you can get per transaction, but it's still a convenient way to get cash if you're not near a fee-free ATM and don't have an account that refunds fees.
The Bottom Line
ATM fees can quickly add up, especially when you're paying your bank and the ATM operator fees to withdraw cash. However, you may be able to avoid both of these fees if you plan ahead and look for an in-network ATM or get cash back when you're shopping. You might not need to worry about it at all if you open an account that refunds ATM fees.