How Do You Handle ATM Fees?

inside-man bank theft

A piece in Vice about saving money in your twenties goes over some of the challenges of trying to keep a grip on your cash when you don’t have much of it; you often owe it elsewhere, like to student loans; and you’re at odds with your YOLO friends, like the one Nicole wrote about this past week.

One money suck it addresses that I haven’t heard much discussion of lately is ATM fees:

ATM fees are now at a record high of $4.52 per transaction on average, up 20 percent from five years ago. One of the first things I noticed from using Mint is that I, like apparently most people, was spending too much money on them.

Since the end of June, I’ve forked over $65 in fees for withdrawing cash, which is honestly beyond infuriating, because that means I spend ~$150 a year getting access to my own money. The combination of New York businesses’ stubborn insistence on forcing you to pay in cash and my bank being 20 minutes from my apartment meant I was going to random bodega cash dispensers to the tune of $2.50 a trip.

My solution was to switch banks to Charles Schwab, a company with no brick or mortar locations, which might be a problem if you needed to visit an IRL banking professional for whatever reason, something I’ve never had to do. The upside is that they pay your ATM fees.

ATMs are, unquestionably, one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Can you imagine having to leave work at your lunch break to stand in line at an actual bank to withdraw cash? And that’s assuming you banked anywhere close to where you worked. No, we take for granted nowadays the ubiquity and convenience of ATMs, and we shouldn’t, because they are marvels and should be appreciated as such.

$4.50 a transaction, though? That’s usury.

Charles Schwab is one interesting potential solution; I hadn’t known that they pay fees for you. Another fix is to take out a swath of cash all at once from your bank and keep it in your bedroom in a fire-proof safe. Note: for best results, invest in a fire-proof safe.

What else works?

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