Saturday, March 24, 2007

Say NO to the Double Ding! ATM Fees and How to Eliminate Them Without Planning Your Life Around In-Network ATMs

I hate ATM fees. I shouldn't be alone. According to an article posted on Bankrate in 2005, 96% of banks were charging non-customers fees to use their ATM and 87% of banks were charging their own customers to use someone else's network. On average banks were charging people not in their network $1.57 to use their ATMs, while peoples' own banks were charging them $1.37 to use an ATM in someone else's network. This horrific "double ding" means that if you use an ATM at a bank outside your network, the majority of the time you will pay $2.94 on average for the privledge of convenience. Let's assume you are using an ATM outside your network once a month. Over 30 years that means the banks will take $1,058 of your hard earned money. Assuming you reinvested that money at an 8% return that is $4,382 that the banks are stealing from you one withdrawal at a time.
My personal experience was worse than this. My main checking account at Wells Fargo (which I love for a whole host of reasons, ATMS not being one of them) was charging me $2.00 to use non-Wells Fargo ATMs and because I was travelling so much for work I was using them up to three times per month. I decided that there had to be a better way. When I searched around on the internet there were plenty of articles that suggested planning your visits to the ATM better to avoid the fees. That option didn't hold much appeal to me since I was frequently arriving in a new city for work and having absolutely no idea where an ATM was, let alone one from Wells Fargo.
Then I found Umbrellabank. Umbrellabank offers a checking account called virtually free checking. The account requires $100 to open, but has no minimum balance requirements thereafter. It will reimburse you for up to $6.00 in fees charged by other banks to use their ATMs each month. Umbrellabank itself charges no fees to use non-network ATMs presumably since they don't have many ATMs of their own. I opened an account and keep about $300 in there. That way, when I am traveling, I can go to any ATM and I know that Umbrellabank will reimburse me. When I am at home, I still go to my Wells Fargo ATM, but with my Umbrellabank account I don't have to pay an arm and a leg to use a non-network ATM and I don't always have to plan to be near a Wells Fargo ATM.

1 comment:

docucla said...

You have not been introduced to Schwab accounts. If you open a schwab account you can travel to any country and have Schwab convert your money at the best rate and reimburse you for any conversion or ATM fees. Anywhere at anytime.