4 Easy Tricks to Avoid ATM Fees

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This is a guest post from Kalyn Brooke of

As much as I try to avoid ATM fees, I always end up paying at least a few per year. It’s super frustrating.

$2.00 here, $4.00 there, and the cost to pull out just one $20 bill adds up month after month. You have network fees from your own bank, foreign access fees from other banks, and even “ATM owner fees” piled on top of everything else, and that’s just for using the machine!

It’s like I’m paying to access my own money….oh wait, I am.

Being so much of a cashless society doesn’t help. It means we’re carrying less cash around then ever before, and although we convince ourselves it’s a good thing not to have hundreds of dollars in hand for fear that it could be stolen, we are almost always guaranteed we’ll be paying hundreds in ATM fees whenever we need access to the green stuff.


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It’s time to stop giving away our hard-earned money to the banks for free, and try one of these 4 easy tricks to avoid the extra and quite unnecessary ATM charge.

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1. Find a Bank that Waives or Credits Fees

Probably the easiest way to avoid ATM fees is to find a bank that doesn’t have them, or credits them back to your account.

Back when we lived in Upstate NY, we were part of a small local bank that credited up to $20 in ATM fees every month. It was so helpful, because no matter where we were, or how much money we needed to access, we knew we never had to pay any extra on top of the cash we pulled. This might not work for those who use an ATM every week, but for the occasional pull-out, it satisfied our needs marvelously.

If you’re on the lookout for a bank that will waive, or credit ATM fees, here is an excellent list. Just be sure to read the fine print! Even if the bank’s rules are pretty soft with ATM’s, there may be minimum balance requirements, or even a bunch of other fees that would make the switch less tempting.


2. Download a Banking App

Most banks have a smartphone app where you can access accounts right on your mobile device {don’t worry, these are always password protected!}, but more importantly, you can quickly check the location of your nearest bank-owned ATM.

The usefulness of this app really depends on your current location, as you may have to drive out of the way to get there. However, with the price of ATM fees rising, it might be worth the slight inconvenience to avoid a penalty. Of course, if you live out in the country, driving to your bank’s nearest ATM might be a different story!

Another option is to download the Allpoint mobile app, which finds surcharge-free ATM’s closest to you. The downside is you need to contact your financial institution first, just to make sure they participate in the Allpoint network before heading out to access your cash.


3. Always Carry a Certain Amount of Cash

Although I don’t personally use the cash envelope system, I do try to have at least $20 cash on me at all times to use for small transactions, and also for when I take a trips to the flea market or scout out a local garage sale. It is rare for any business not to accept credit or debit cards, but these establishments do still exist, and much to my dismay {and often my own fault!}, I’ve been caught without any cash inside them. So embarrassing!

Don’t let cash-only businesses catch you off guard, and make it a habit to carry the specific amount of cash you feel comfortable with. Whenever your supply runs low, run by your bank to pull out another $20 or so. However, if you find yourself doing this often, you might want to pull out a larger amount to save an extra trip.

Another tip for Craigslist users is to keep a larger supply of cash at home for bigger purchases, so you don’t have to run by the bank before you go and pick up your item.

4. Use Your Debit Card to Get Cash Back

Another trick if you find yourself without cash, and the closest ATM is going to charge you an arm and a leg to use it, is to pop into a grocery store or gas station and use your debit card to buy a small item, such as a candy bar. When the machine prompts you for cash back, grab an extra $20-$40 dollars for what you needed – no fees attached.

We have personally done this whenever we found ourselves at a restaurant that only takes cash or we were paying with a gift card and needed cash for the tip. One of us stays at the table while the other runs to the nearest store. It’s certainly not the most convenient thing to do, but it sure does save us some fees.

Some might say that paying for the candy bar is just like paying a fee, but it’s usually less than the $4.00 we so often get penalized with, and we are getting a piece of chocolate out it. So I’d say that’s a win-win!

Next time you find yourself stranded with a cash-only bill and surrounded by out-of-network ATM’s, give one of these 4 easy tricks a try. A little planning can go a long way, and will keep the majority of your money safe and sound — and more importantly, away from nasty ATM fees!

Kalyn Brooke is a life management expert for busy women who crave a simpler and more organized life. Through her recognizable, down-to-earth approach, she provides a daily dose of inspiration and guidance, whether you’re looking for smart money tips, time saving routines, or anything in-between. When she’s not experimenting with ways to do even the most mundane tasks more efficiently, you can find her crafting detailed to-do lists in her bullet journal, or indulging in—yet another—personal development book. Meet Kalyn and learn how stay on top of it all at


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  1. Kim Rice
    February 13 at 10:49AM

    I would like to purchase your “Goal Setting Workbook. How do I do that?

  2. February 23 at 09:00AM

    I do the “use your debit card get cash back” thing. It’s usually something like a stick of gum or a chapstick.

  3. March 9 at 03:30PM

    Great tips! I always carry a certain amount of cash and only withdraw a certain amount each month (that helps my budget), also I use mobile banking, and also use my debit card to get cash back if I need it. Thanks for sharing!

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