Insights from Banks in Michigan
Paying an ATM fee to get quick access to your hard-earned cash can be annoying. Sometimes you face a double hit if the ATM owner charges you and your bank tacks on an additional surcharge.
And unfortunately, ATM expenses continue to increase. A recent study from bankrate.com showed the average national ATM usage fee was $4.72, with some banks in Detroit charging an average of $5.27 for a single withdrawal. Ouch!
Steps You Can Take to Minimize ATM Charges
Michigan banks have a few ideas to help you reduce the ATM fees you pay.
- Rely on your debit card, and skip using cash. While most retailers will accept debit (and credit) card payments, it’s worth noting that this strategy may not work for all transactions. Babysitters, vending machines, and laundromats are just a few examples of services that rely on cash.
- Add a cash withdrawal to your grocery or pharmacy purchases. Several national chains like CVS, Walmart, and Kroger may ask if you'd like to receive cash when you make a purchase.* CVS and Walmart don’t charge any fees for this service. Kroger recently began adding a surcharge to its cash-back service, a $0.50 charge for cash up to $100, and $3.50 for $100 to $300. These fees are lower than the national bank average.
- Keep a cash reserve at home. Whether you cash a physical check or have a direct deposit, you can generally make no-fee cash withdrawals from your savings or checking account at bank branches in which you may have an account relationship. Opinions vary about the amount of cash to keep on hand for emergencies or small purchases. Because your at-home fund isn’t earning interest, consider keeping only enough to cover a few days of average expenses. If you’re unsure how much to set aside, creating a budget may help.
- Don't use out-of-network ATMs. Limiting your ATM usage to those owned by your bank is an obvious tactic for avoiding charges. Finding an in-network machine can be challenging, however, especially when you’re traveling, and your accounts are with a regional bank.
- Choose a bank with an extensive ATM network. Many U.S. banks have thousands of no-fee ATMs across the country. Some credit unions and online banks are part of a cooperative that allows you to use ATMs without surcharges.
- Partner with a bank that refunds ATM fees. Level One Bank, a leading bank in Michigan, is one example of a financial institution that refunds ATM fees anywhere in the U.S. If you have a checking account with us and you are charged a fee for using an ATM, we will automatically refund it. Some banks may place a limit on the number of ATM refunds you can get per month, but with Level One Bank the refunds are unlimited.
By following one or more of these suggestions and doing a little planning, you can potentially avoid paying high ATM fees. Check out banks in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and across Michigan to learn more about their ATM policies. If you’re looking for a top-notch banking partner, consider Level One Bank, recently rated 5-stars for financial strength by BauerFinancial.
"Thanks, ATM fees, for making me buy my own money." -- Internet meme
*References to brand names CVS, Walmart and Kroger are for reference only. Level One is not affiliated and does not specifically endorse any named establishments.