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How to avoid ATM fees

September 21 2022
4 min read
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Around here, paying cash is something we generally try to avoid. But what's even worse than missing out on credit card rewards with a cash purchase is not having the cash on hand for the purchase and having to pay an ATM fee.

Here are five of the best ways to avoid those painful ATM fees.

Plan ahead

It may seem obvious, but the best way to avoid paying an ATM fee is to be prepared for instances where you will need to pay cash. Then, you can choose an option and have cash on hand when you need it rather than be surprised in the moment and frantically look for an ATM nearby.

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Think about your activities ahead of time. If you're going to an event that requires paid parking, you can guess it might require cash. Similarly, your local county fair may accept credit cards for some things, but you know you'll want to make sure you have enough cash to pay for games and fried delicacies if they don't.

TETRA IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

Additionally, it's always a good idea to carry some emergency cash. Keeping a few twenties in your wallet is a great way to help make sure you never get caught without cash and have to pay an ATM fee.

Related: Save on ATM fees overseas

Stay in network

If you know ahead of time that you need to get cash, visiting an ATM in your bank's network is likely your easiest option. If the ATM is in their network, your bank won't charge you an out-of-network ATM fee. While you're at it, go ahead and get a little bit more cash than you think you'll need so you can have that emergency stash in your wallet.

For example, if you have a Chase debit card, you'll want to find a Chase ATM to reduce your fees. Conversely, if you use your Chase debit card to withdraw cash from a Bank of America ATM, you'll be charged an out-of-network ATM fee.

Get cash back

If you don't have an ATM in your bank's network nearby, getting cash back at a store is another great option to avoid an out-of-network ATM fee. Just make a small purchase at a store, like a pack of gum, and pay with your debit card.

At checkout, you can either tell the cashier or select the button on the self-checkout to request cash back. At that point, the process is much like an ATM: You just request the amount of cash you need. Aside from the small purchase, you get your cash without having to pay any fees.

Use mobile payments

Sometimes, you're out of your emergency cash and realize a merchant doesn't accept credit cards. Before you run off to an ATM, ask if they accept mobile payments. Sometimes a merchant can scan a card in your mobile wallet even if they don't have a physical card reader. If that's the case, having your mobile wallet set up can save you the cost of an ATM fee.

DJELICS/GETTY IMAGES

ATM fee reimbursement

Some banks actually reimburse ATM fees, so opening an account with one of them is a great option. With one of these accounts, you can have far more peace of mind when you find yourself needing last-minute cash.

If you want to go this route, the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking account is an excellent option. In addition to reimbursing ATM fees on domestic purchases, having this account is also great for when you're spending abroad. Use the debit card associated with this account to avoid foreign transaction fees as well as to make sure you're reimbursed for any international ATM fees. Plus, this account has no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees.

Related: Accounts to avoid foreign ATM fees

Bottom line

Don't add insult to injury when you have to pay cash for a purchase by also paying an ATM fee. Plan ahead and get cash from an ATM in your bank's network or from a store to make sure you're ready when you find yourself in a cash-only situation. Additionally, have your mobile wallet set up and consider opening a bank account that reimburses ATM fees. With these strategies in place, you should be able to avoid ever paying an out-of-network ATM fee.

Featured photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/BLOOMBERG/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees