Need Access to Your Cash? It's Going to Cost You

Need Access to Your Cash? It's Going to Cost You

Stopping at the corner ATM could now easily cost more than your morning cup of joe.

To be precise, a new survey from Bankrate finds that the average out-of-network ATM fee totals a record $4.52.

How's that for a jolt to your system?

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The $4.52 breaks down to $2.88 for the ATM operator and $1.64 for your bank—and means that the fees for easy access to your own cash have risen 21% in five years.

And it's not just ATM fees. If you're not monitoring your balance, you may be hit with an overdraft fee, and the average now tops $33 (up 9% from five years ago). These extras can add up fast, taking a toll on your savings.

It doesn't help that the share of truly free checking accounts has dipped to 37%. Instead, Bankrate analysts find that more institutions are requiring higher minimum balances and monthly direct deposits before they will waive your maintenance fee (another $5.86 a month on average).

But with some easy preparation, you can better ensure your money actually stays in your account.

Tips for Avoiding Checking Account Fees

  • Calculate your weekly flex number and withdraw that amount to cut down on the frequency of your ATM visits.
  • Stick with in-network ATMs or find an institution that will reimburse you for out-of-network transactions.
  • Consider downloading your bank's app; some have locators to help you identify a nearby fee-free ATM.
  • Shop around for institutions that still offer free checking, like small banks, credit unions and online banks.
  • Set up an automatic alert so that you'll be notified if your balance falls below a certain amount.

If you're still hit with a charge, find out how to talk your way out of bank fees and save money at the ATM.

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