The average ATM surcharge for off-us transactions rose 4 percent last year to a new record of $2.50, according to the 15th annual checking survey just released by Bankrate.com. This is the eighth straight year that the average ATM surcharge increased, the survey found.
For the first time, 100 percent of FIs surveyed by bankrate.com said they charge non-customers to use their ATMs. Many also charge their own customers for using a foreign ATM; this fee jumped 11 percent to $1.57. For a customer encountering both fees, the average total of $4.07 is a new record and is up nearly seven percent from last year.
The highest ATM surcharges (off-us fees) were found in Denver ($2.80); the lowest were found in Minneapolis ($2.20). The highest foreign ATM fees were charged in Philadelphia ($1.96), the lowest were charged in Chicago ($1.10).
While fees rose, freebies were on the decline, the Bankrate survey found. The percentage of free checking accounts offered by U.S. banks continues to fall; this year, 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts surveyed were available to all customers free of charge, down from 45 percent last year and a peak of 76 percent in 2009.
"Checking accounts that are free on a standalone basis continue to diminish," said Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com. "But a free checking account is still within reach of the majority of Americans, whether by getting the fee waived through direct deposit or moving to a bank or credit union that still offers free checking. And consumers that practice good financial habits should rarely — if ever — incur ATM and overdraft fees."
Bankrate surveyed a total of 10 banks and thrifts in each of 25 large U.S. markets. This included one interest and one non-interest account at 247 institutions that offer checking accounts. In total, 241 interest and 236 non-interest accounts were surveyed. The full survey is available at bankrate.com.
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