My husband went to an area supermarket, where the bank machines are out of our ATM network and therefore, off limits for us. And like a good consumer, he skipped the cash-spitting services of this foreign ATM.
But what about a simple balance check? Insert card, make request and out spits a receipt with our balance and a $2 or $3 fee for the out-of-network balance check.
He's stunned and I'm surprised and embarrassed. As a reporter, I've written about banks and their double-dipping ATM fees. How did this one slip past me?
For advice, I turned to an analyst at Bankrate.com. Yesterday, I interviewed Greg McBride, CFA Senior Financial Analyst at Bankrate.com, a publication of Bankrate, Inc.
Here's my record of our conversation:
Me: How did we get zapped on that ATM transaction?
McBride: You didn't actually take the money out. It was just a balance inquiry.
Me: Yeah! Is that a new fee?
McBride: I first heard about it about two years ago.[He went on to say that the fee is one of the charges that flies under the radar.] It surprises people because they don't actually get any money. But there's a fee because the two ATMs have to link up and make a connection just as if you were making a withdrawal. It's the same function.
Me: But $2 for that? I've written stories about bank fees and the real cost of electronic service is like pennies.
McBride: No doubt about that. ATM Fees are a huge profit center for banks and the fees have consistently gone up over the years.
Me: For sure. I don't remember the exact figures, but I remember that each ATM transaction cost banks pennies to execute.I remember industry or regulatory reports that quoted cost figures of 5 cents per transaction.
McBride: It's a small figure and it doesn't come close to the fees that the consumer pays.
The Frugal Duchess Boutique