Enjoying an ATM’s convenience gets more expensive every year — literally.
ATM fees have hit a record high for the 10th year in a row, according to Bankrate’s annual survey.
Between a $2.90 charge from the bank that owns the ATM and a $1.67 charge from your bank for using someone else’s machine, the average cost to withdraw cash from an out-of-network ATM is $4.57 this year.
That’s more than 20% on top of the $20 you were about to withdraw for one last round at the bar.
How to Avoid ATM Fees
Thankfully, a number of banks are catching on, and you can find accounts offering free ATMs — not just in-network, but all ATMs.
These seven bank accounts all waive ATM fees to some extent — some better than others.
I listed them in descending order, starting with those that offer the best combination of ATM rebate options, the lowest barrier to entry and overall good benefits for account holders.
The best account for you depends on your situation and money goals, so don’t discount those lower on the list!
1. Aspiration Summit Checking Account
Aspiration’s Summit Checking Account is an online-only bank account with no fees, no minimums and an interest rate up to 1%.
I actually use this checking account, but that’s not why I mentioned it first. It hits all the criteria I’m looking for in this list:
- It’s easy to set up.
- You don’t have to have a ton of money to qualify for the benefits.
- You’ll get free ATMs anywhere in the world.
You’ll never pay a fee for using SUM surcharge-free ATMs, and Aspiration reimburses you at the end of each month for fees you pay for using any other ATM.
The minimum deposit to open this account is just $10. Instead of a monthly fee, all of Aspiration’s services work on a “pay what is fair” model. You choose your price and pay as a “tip” — up to $6 a month and as little as $0.
The Summit Account offers 1.00% APY on a full balance of $2,500 or more, or 0.25% on a balance below $2,500.
2. State Farm Bank
A close second, State Farm Bank is a good option if you prefer an institution with physical locations.
State Farm’s basic Checking account requires a minimum opening deposit of $25, and offers free ATMs with a few stipulations.
To receive unlimited ATM rebates, you’ll need to have at least one direct deposit to your account per statement cycle. Without a direct deposit, you’ll get ATM rebates up to $10 in that statement cycle.
State Farm will reimburse you for fees charged by other banks at the end of each statement cycle, and it won’t charge fees to use its own ATMs or those owned by other banks.
If you work for an employer that offers direct deposit, the requirement should be easy to hit. But if you don’t have that option, or your income isn’t stable, you may miss out on this account’s benefits.
3. Bank of Internet USA
Although Bank of Internet USA contends with the benefits of the first two accounts, it only offers free ATMs within the U.S.
As its name suggests, this is another online-only bank. It offers several checking accounts with ATM reimbursements and other benefits.
A BofI representative told me all its checking accounts require a $100 minimum opening deposit, but after that require a minimum balance of only $1.
Bank of Internet’s Essential Checking account comes with no monthly or annual fees, no overdraft fees and cash-back rewards for debit card purchases.
BofI will reimburse you by the end of the next business day for unlimited ATM fees within the U.S.
For ATM use in another country, you’ll pay a 2% service fee, according to NerdWallet. So even though this online bank account is flexible, it isn’t ideal for international travel.
4. Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking Account
Schwab Bank is one of the first that comes to mind when looking for a bank account for international travelers. The account offers unlimited ATM fee rebates for cash withdrawals at ATMs anywhere in the world.
The Penny Hoarder’s resident travel guru, Susan Shain, uses and loves it.
“I’ve had Schwab for years and recommend it to every international traveler I know,” Shain says. “I used to take out huge wads of cash at once, just so I could avoid paying fees every time I needed more — but that’s not a safe way to travel.
“Now, because Schwab refunds fees charged by other banks, I can take out cash every few days. Win-win for sure!”
Neither account comes with monthly fees or a minimum balance, but “other account fees, fund expenses and brokerage commissions may apply” to the brokerage account once you begin investing.
5. Ally Bank
With Ally’s free online Interest Checking account, you can use any Allpoint ATMs in the U.S. for free, plus Ally will reimburse you up to $10 — three average transactions per statement cycle — for other ATM fees within the U.S.
An Ally representative told me this checking account has no required minimum deposit to get started.
6. Chesapeake Bank
Chesapeake Bank’s online-only Clear Sky checking account will waive up to $20 — six average transactions — in ATM fees per month.
You’ll also get free basic identity theft protection when you open an account!
7. Credit Unions
If you’re eligible to become a member of a local credit union, check their ATM policies. Credit unions often don’t have large ATM networks, and make up for it by reimbursing fees charged by other banks.
Your Turn: Does your bank waive ATM fees?
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Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).