Banks all over the country are adding fees wherever they can–especially for customers using ATMs. Currently Bankrate.com, a firm which conducts financial research, reports that some banks have raised their ATM fees to as high as $2.50 for consumers who use their ATMs but don’t have accounts at their bank.
It’s an increase of 4 percent since last year.
In addition to that fee, consumers are also charged another fee of $1.57 from their own bank every time they use another bank’s ATM. That’s an 11 percent increase from last year. The grand total for consumers using an ATM from a bank they don’t do business at is now $4.07, which is 7 percent higher than it was previously and is a new record high for ATM fees.
Why Have ATM Fees Gotten So High?
Financial experts say that because most banks provide free ATM access to their own customers, they try to make up their costs of operating their ATM network by charging customers who do not bank with them. Unfortunately for the banks, however, financially savvy customers have begun to make more of an effort to use only the ATMs at their own banks. Analysts at Bankrate.com say that banks are raising their fees in an attempt to make up from all the revenue lost by customers using only their own bank’s ATMs.
More Bad News for Consumers
In addition to the staggering ATM fees now in force, Bankrate.com also found a dramatic decrease in the number of free checking accounts that are available. According to the research firm, only 39 percent of all checking accounts in the U.S. are free. Last year 45 percent of them were free.
Financial analysts trace the decrease in free checking accounts to two changes in regulatory laws. Reduced debit card swipe fees and new overdraft charge restrictions have drastically cut banks’ ability to earn revenue.
Analysts believe the soaring ATM fees and the decrease in the number of free checking accounts that are available have one thing in common: they’re both indicative of the banking industry’s efforts to find creative ways to bring in more revenue.