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Metro area has 2nd highest ATM fees; here’s how to avoid them

High ATM fees are avoidable if you plan

High ATM fees are avoidable if you plan ahead. Photo Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

There’s no slowing down of bank fees. Nationally, ATM and overdraft fees hit record highs this year. The metro area has the distinction of having the second highest average out-of-network ATM fee ($5.14) and the fourth highest average overdraft fee ($34.63) of the top 25 major metro areas surveyed by Bankrate.com.

Anyone can slip up and have to pay an overdraft fee, but out-of-network ATM fees are avoidable, and at more than $5 a transaction, wasted money.

  • Get organized: “Plan ahead as to where and when you make your withdrawals so you do so within network. In New York, that may mean walking a few blocks in the opposite direction. Many smaller banks, credit unions and online banks belong to nationwide ATM alliances that permit free withdrawals at tens of thousands of ATMs nationwide. Check your bank’s app for the location of the nearest in-network ATM,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst with Bankrate.com.
  • Find the right account: When Roger Ma, founder of financial planning firm lifelaidout in Manhattan, sees clients incurring lots of out-of-network ATM fees, he often recommends they use an account such as the Schwab High Yield Savings Account. “You can use any ATM in the world and not incur ATM or foreign transaction fees,” Ma says.

Also look for a checking account that refunds a certain number of ATM fees, even if they are aligned with fee-free networks. Says Rob Werner, president and CEO of Ardent Credit Union in Philadelphia, “We are aligned with three different networks giving our members access to over 55,000 free ATMs, and we also refund up to $25 a month in ATM fees with our Kasasa checking account.”

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