ATM fees frustrate Americans more than overdraft charges - survey

Source: ING Direct

Overdraft bank fees have been public enemy number one for American consumers, but apparently, there's a new villain in town: ATM fees.

More than a quarter (26 percent) of Americans are more angry about having to pay ATM fees than they are overdraft fees (24 percent), according to the latest ING DIRECT USA survey. ING DIRECT, the nation's largest direct bank, also announced today five easy steps consumers can take to avoid ATM fees.

The survey says that despite Americans' anger, one in five ATM users (20 percent) are charged a fee at least once a month for using an ATM not affiliated with their bank's network. Of those, three in five (59 percent) paid on average $2.00 or more in ATM fees when they withdrew money. On a withdrawal of $40, which is the median according to the survey, consumers charged a $2.00 fee about once a month could end up spending more than $1,200 in ATM fees over the next 50 years.

"Losing just a few dollars to ATM fees can quickly add up to hundreds of dollars during your financial life," said Arkadi Kuhlmann, President of ING DIRECT USA. "Americans need to know the ways to avoid ATM fees so that using their money doesn't cost them even more money."

Earlier this year, 94 percent of parents said they are primarily responsible for educating their children about money(1). Yet some parents appear to be struggling to lead by example.

  • About 3 in 10 parents (28 percent) who use an ATM incur ATM fees at least once a month, nearly double that of Americans without children (16 percent).
  • 60 percent of parents who have been charged an ATM fee were charged $2.00 or more for these ATM withdrawals.
  • 22 percent of parents with children under six years old who have been charged an ATM fee are being charged $3.00 or more for these ATM withdrawals.


Two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans who have been charged an ATM fee blame banks for "nickel and diming" them while just 33 percent blame themselves for "poor planning." Yet there are ways to avoid these charges. ING DIRECT, which offers free access to over 35,000 ATMs through the Allpoint(TM) network, has developed five tips to help Americans put the squeeze on ATM fees and save money.

Five Ways To Put The Squeeze On ATM Fees

  1. Do the legwork. You're willing to go the extra mile to find a good deal and save a few bucks, right? Finding a good bank's no different. Online or on foot, any bank with a surcharge-free ATM network is worth the extra steps in our book. They'll save you a significant amount of cash each month, and you'll have an inside track to the most cost-effective ATM locations around town.
  2. Go ahead and pick "cash back." We all spend way too much time running back and forth to the grocery or drug store for this, that and the other. Next time you're in the checkout line, check out the "cash back" option. There's no fee and it's a great way to grab some quick cash without adding yet another errand to your weekend plans.
  3. Cash still rocks harder. So you're on your way to see your favorite 1980's hair band and you find out the parking garage only takes cash. Now you're stuck with finding the closest ATM (probably the one with the heftiest fee) and you're going to miss the opening act. If you carried more "walking around" money, you'd be in your seat by now flashing those mighty rock horns in the name of cash.
  4. Don't get "dinged." Sometimes, ATM fees come from different places and they're always painful. We're talking about the dreaded "terminal fees," "out-of-network" fees and fees some banks charge just for using another bank's ATM. You can avoid this assault on your wallet by checking with your bank and finding the closest surcharge-free ATM network - no matter where you are.
  5. Plan ahead and pay ahead. You can't predict the future, but you can pretty much guess how much money you're going to need from week to week. Make a list, tally up your regular expenses and grab all the cash you'll need for the week in one trip to the ATM. The one without the fee, of course.

The national online survey was conducted within the United States by Harris Interactive® on behalf of ING DIRECT between October 5 - October 7, 2009 among 2,046 adults age 18+, 1,462 of whom were ATM users. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

(1) This national online survey was conducted within the United States by Harris Interactive® on behalf of ING DIRECT between April 6-8, 2009 among 2,123 adults age 18+, 535 of whom were parents of children under age 18.

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