Automated Teller Machine (ATM)

What is an ATM?

An ATM (Automated Teller Machine) is a machine activated by a magnetically encoded card or another medium that can process various banking transactions. These include accepting deposits and loan payments, providing withdrawals, and transferring funds between accounts. ATMs are sometimes referred to as cash machines.

What are ATM surcharges?

When you use an ATM outside of your financial institution’s network, two fees may be assessed:

  • an access fee charged by your financial institution,
  • and a surcharge fee imposed by the ATM owner.

Many banks and credit unions do not assess a fee to access your money from ATMs owned by them. However, the ATM owner may assess a surcharge for using its ATM.

For example, you can withdraw money from your financial institution’s ATMs without paying fees. However, if you choose to withdraw money from a different ATM, such as one by another bank or in a convenience store or gas station, the ATM owner may charge a fee.

What are ATM Surcharge-free ATMs?

Surcharge-free ATMs refer to automated teller machines where users can withdraw cash or perform banking transactions without incurring additional fees levied by the ATM owner. These ATMs are part of networks or agreements that waive surcharges for users with accounts with participating financial institutions.

On the other hand, ATM surcharges are fees imposed by ATM owners on users who conduct transactions at their machines but do not hold accounts with the ATM owner’s financial institution. These fees are typically in addition to any fees charged by the user’s bank for using an out-of-network ATM.

The difference between surcharge-free ATMs and ATM rebates or reimbursements lies in how users are compensated for fees incurred at out-of-network ATMs:

  1. Surcharge-Free ATMs: Users can access cash or conduct transactions at these ATMs without incurring surcharge fees, provided they have accounts with participating financial institutions that are part of the surcharge-free network. There is no need for reimbursement because no surcharge fees are imposed in the first place.
  2. ATM Rebates or Reimbursements: Some financial institutions offer ATM rebates or reimbursements to offset surcharge fees incurred at out-of-network ATMs. In this case, users may be charged a surcharge fee by the ATM owner, but their bank reimburses them for these fees, either partially or in full, as part of their account benefits. This allows users to access a wider network of ATMs while minimizing or eliminating the associated fees.

Where to Find Surcharge-Free ATMs?

Financial institutions may offer their customers access to a network of surcharge-free ATMs. These networks include: