ATM fees: Australians pay $548 million for their money

Do you choose to pay the $2 ATM fee for the sake of convenience?

Do you choose to pay the $2 ATM fee for the sake of convenience? Australians are still forking out more than half a billion dollars in ATM fees per year, instead of using their own banks’ ATMS for free.

According to financial comparison website, which analysed data from the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), around 40 per cent of ATM transactions were made using third-party or ‘foreign’ machines last year, costing an estimated $548 million in obligatory fees.

Sally Tindall, Money Editor at RateCity said on Monday, "Half a billion dollars a year is an excessive amount of money to be spending on accessing our own money."

According to RateCity, on average, one in three Australians still pay the $2 or $3 transaction fee, with 40 per cent of women and young adults more likely to pay the fee for the sake of convenience. Comparatively, around 27 per cent of Baby Boomers admitted using a third-party ATM.

Additionally, Ms Tindall said that despite the availability of everyday accounts that promise to refund ATM fees irrespective of which outlet the customer uses, only five per cent of Australians were choosing to use these accounts.

An RBA report released last week revealed that since the industry reforms to pricing arrangements that took place in 2009, direct ATM charges have increased and transactions have waned. The decline in the number of overall ATM withdrawals reflects the growing trend for customers choosing to make electronic payments rather than cash.

How much Australians have paid in ATM fees:

  • $548m year to January 2016
  • $596m year to January 2015
  • $683m year to January 2009
  • $815m year to January 2008

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Opinion: The price of convenience

Last year we paid more than $500 million to withdraw our own money, and it’s not just other banks’ machines that we’re using – it’s third-party ATMs as well.

At the start of 2010, 47 per cent of ATMs were independently owned. Last year, this number had risen to about 55 per cent. The two biggest ATM networks in Australia are DC Payments and Cashcard, owning 7251 and 4691 ATMs respectively. The Commonwealth Bank, which is known to have more ATMs than any other bank, owns just 3822.  

But we’re not just forking out to use ATMs. Rather than absorbing the related card fees, it has become common practice for businesses to pass the fees on to customers. Having worked in hospitality for many years, I understand the importance for businesses to have a credit and EFTPOS limit on payments – usually $10 is reasonable, though it’s common nowadays for the minimum transaction to be around $20. But some cafes, restaurants and bars are now applying $2 fees on top of each transaction made as well, so not only are customers subject to minimum transactions amounts, but also for their right to choose to pay with card over cash.

So what are your options? It seems that paying a fee to access your own money is becoming unavoidable. If you use cash, you’ve probably paid a fee at an ATM to withdraw it; if you use an electronic method of payment, you run the risk of being asked to pay for the privilege when you reach the counter. And, as if all that isn’t enough, depending on your savings account, your bank might even be charging you for using EFTPOS.

For those living week-to-week on a pension, all these transaction fees can be a real strain, and since the fees customers are required to pay differ between ATMs, banks and businesses, it can be tricky to know how to best manage your own money.

What do you think? Are you one of those Australian who’ll wear the transaction fee for the sake of convenience? Or will you go out of you way to find your bank’s ATM? Have you been asked by a business to pay an extra charge on top of your transaction?



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    23rd Mar 2016
    I have only ever used an atm other than my banks when I have had no other option. I also withdraw some cash when I buy groceries.
    23rd Mar 2016
    At the moment (I believe) you can withdraw money, without having to purchase anything, from the self-serve checkouts at Coles and Woolworths without being stung with ATM fees.
    23rd Mar 2016
    and BigW Simmo
    23rd Mar 2016
    Aldi will give you cash with your shopping too.

    Some banks also have deals with Australia Post for free cash withdrawals too.

    I hardly use cash so no need for an ATM.
    23rd Mar 2016
    I have never paid fees at the ATM. I bank with ING and they refund all fees that are attached to my account
    23rd Mar 2016
    I have an ING account also but if I draw less than $200.00 there's a fee to pay
    23rd Mar 2016
    Australian ATM Fee Rebate
    for transactions when you deposit at least $1,000 from an external bank account into a Personal ING DIRECT account in your name (excluding Living Super) by the last day of the preceding calendar month. 100% of ATM fee
    23rd Mar 2016
    And a nice little scam from the lotteries.If you win and don't collect, but wait for it to be posted,then the cost of the cheque an postage are taken from your winnings.IE winn $10 and receive $8.50
    23rd Mar 2016
    I got sent some free lottery money but when I used it I got charged an online fee to use it.
    23rd Mar 2016
    I think lottery winnings up to $1000 can be paid buy the ticket seller so no need to have small amounts sent by cheque. And if you have won big, who cares about the cost of postage?
    23rd Mar 2016
    I always collect it if I win
    23rd Mar 2016
    I use coles to withdraw cash. No charge.
    Recently got back from England where you can use any banks atm with no charge.
    23rd Mar 2016
    Yeah Gary, that is England, remember this is Oz, and we have the biggest profit making banks in the world, who will charge you for anything if they can get away with it.
    28th Mar 2016
    When the government owned the CBA, if they couldn't restrain the greed of the other banks by legislation, they could do it with competition.
    The flaw in my logic is that governments are as greedy as banks, but even if the CBA was robbing its customers to the same extent as its competitors, at least the profits would be benefiting the nation by providing a lucrative source of revenue.
    Another benefit would be that the obscene salary packages currently going to bank CEOs could also be restrained if the government had a wish to do so.
    23rd Mar 2016
    Trouble is some banks have removed their ATMs . We used to have an ANZ machine at the Pinjarra shopping centre but it was taken out . The next nearest one 12 kms away at a service station was also removed.. The main bank is 22kms away so thank goodness we can draw cash at Coles.
    23rd Mar 2016
    I was in touch with NAB just recently because they shut down one of my regular ATMs.

    I sent them a message through my internet banking to find out what other non-charge ATMs were available to me.

    They pointed out a Redi-teller service at Bank of Queensland that did not charge me for a withdrawal. I was surprized because it was close to the NAB one that had been closed down.

    These Redi-teller services say "these cards welcome" but they don't say what everyone wants to know "these cards no charge"
    23rd Mar 2016
    Plug your card in and try it and if it tells you it will charge you cancel the transaction.
    23rd Mar 2016
    Get money out at the supermarket or even a service station with a $2 odd purchase. Sure you may not be able to take out heaps but the less you have in your wallet the less you spend.
    23rd Mar 2016
    ...and the less you lose if you happen to lose purse or wallet of have it stolen.
    23rd Mar 2016
    @ Charlie, the NAB and Redi atms have an agreement where they don't charge each others customers for using their ATMs. I have only ever paid an ATM fee where I had no other option, eg the merchant did not use Eftpos and I had no cash which is par for the course as I don't carry much. I hate the loading that airlines etc make when purchases are made. Sneaky corporates!
    23rd Mar 2016
    I just pay the airlines by direct debit instead of credit card. Pay in the morning cleared by the afternoon.
    23rd Mar 2016
    What some people may not know is that lease agreements are drawn up for the space ATMs take so if the bank withdraws its entire ATM hey presto they save more money!! Also with rising crime with crooks trying to either bomb these out of the walls or tow them out this could be another reason banks ate shutting them down.
    23rd Mar 2016
    The question should be is why are we paying for this surcharge at all? It is all electronic, so there is no labour. There is no additional workload as the data is backed up regularly. Where do these banks get off creating the charge, now $3.00 with some ATM's. Seriously?
    Polly Esther
    23rd Mar 2016
    yes there is a little labour, not much sweat to it I agree but, think about it. Someone has to fill up these machines and keep them that way with bank notes, and also audit the remaining notes against the withdrawals, and it has nothing to do with banking staff. It is all done by a private company or companies. How do I know? I enquired at my local bank branch once when their ATM was malfunctioning, and was told so.
    Not Senile Yet!
    23rd Mar 2016
    Legalised robbery by the banks approved by the regulator....Your Goverment!!!!
    So why are you all voting for Party Puppets????

    23rd Mar 2016
    The ANZ bank offers free, unlimited monthly usage of their ATMs, as well as unlimited EFTPOS transactions to Age Pensioners.
    23rd Mar 2016
    Most people who are paying bank fees are doing so purely and simply out of laziness. There are many ways to obtain cash without paying for it, people have already pointed this out. A bit of forward planning and understanding of your spending habits means you never have to pay fees.

    The ultimate fee avoidance tactic is to change banks to one that does not charge fees e.g. there are many accounts that do not charge fees to pensioners for example or if you have a certain balance, or deposit a certain amount regularly. The failure of the account holder to take any action then whinge about the amount of fees paid is NOT the fault of this or any other Government.

    The fees I object to are those which you absolutely can't avoid such as booking tickets on-line, or paying a bill by EFT rather than by the provider preference of direct debit. These charges are costed at many times the real cost and levied per ticket - airline or event tickets for example. And this on top of any admin/booking fee. You could try asking for an invoice then paying by EFT via on-line banking though and seeing what happens.
    23rd Mar 2016
    I found out yesterday, that a friend of mine who is paying rent to Ray White R.E. is being charged $1 every time he makes a payment via BPay, or Ezypay, or Direct Debit !!. This is disgusting, and I am sure that it is illegal. It is not a lot, but it is the principal of this gouge by a Real Estate company. So, beware of whom you rent from, and avoid Ray White.
    23rd Mar 2016
    IN NSW they have to offer you a free fee way of paying your rent.
    23rd Mar 2016
    I lived in a suburb where my bank had no branch and no ATM facility so I had use another bank's ATM for a fee of $2.00. My bank had a branch at the next suburb, a train fee of $2.50. It was easier and cheaper to use the other bank's ATM in my suburb.
    Using other bank's ATM, given the cost factor of operating an ATM seems justifiable to charge $2.00. If you withdraw cash from ATM on your credit card they charge $2.50.So be it.
    However, what gets me hot under the collar is Credit Card provider's Definition that if you buy a Lottery Ticket with Tattslotto on line via (Internet) it is deemed by definition that it is a Cash Advance. That is wrong! That is theft! It seems that it's not good enough for banks to charge 24% pa interest for Cash Advance, they have to steal more from customers by defining internet transactions as Cash Advance when in fact the transaction is no different to buying rolls of toilet paper with a design on them as a credit card charge to buying a piece of paper with some numbers printed on it.It's deemed as Gambling so they charge an extra $2.50 or more. Banks with Credit Cards can also charge a Cash Advance fee on top of your high interest for buying pre-paid gift cards, pre-paid mobile tokens and paying your utility bills over the counter at the Post Office with your Credit Card but if you pay your bills on line there is no charge. The cash rate for banks is 2% but they charge 24% for your credit card Cash Advance transactions.
    Yes, I know, don't use credit cards for cash withdrawals and I avoid that like a plague. But, it's unavoidable to use your credit card online (Internet) from your home for Lotto / Lottery purchase when you can't walk very far on your feet because of a medical condition. As I mentioned before 24% pa interest is not enough for banks they have to steal more from customers with fees "by definition".
    23rd Mar 2016
    Get a debit Visa or Mastercard and then you won't get charged 24% pa interest.
    23rd Mar 2016
    People that pay ATM fees or credit card fees are poor money managers or dumb. I have never paid any fees. So stop blaming banks and take responsibility for your actions
    23rd Mar 2016
    You are not wrong, old boy. You forgot "lazy". If you want something bad enough you look for it. There are a lot of people on this site, and everywhere, who ask questions without using their OWN initiative to look for the answers themselves. Then you give them the answers here and you don't know whether they have come back to see if there is any response, or they are too lazy and/or impolite to even say thanks.
    23rd Mar 2016
    Sure Oz and Fast Eddie I blame myself for being so #ucken dumb that I have the medical condition of inability to walk very far. Only thing I can say to you is go anf '#uck yourselfs"
    23rd Mar 2016
    HS, thank you for your reply. Your inability to walk far does save some people from personal face-to-face contact with your foul mouth, ill temper, and not too good nature. Sorry about your condition, but it is no excuse for the aforesaid abuse and bad language.
    23rd Mar 2016
    If you are going to call someone lazy and dumb and degradethem because of a medical condition that limits someone's ability to utilise whatever means are available at their disposal such as Internet transactions from home for purchasing whatever they need and want then the retaliatory expletives is what you deserve for inciting anger. I acknowledged that some bank fees are justified and many other fees are plain 'theft' by definition such as buying a lotto / lottery ticket. If my transaction was to purchase shares on ASX using the banks internet website brokerage facility using my credit card I would not be charged a fee of Cash Advance because that is not by definition "gambling". But in reality it is gambling! The only difference is that lotto is a gamble against the odds and gambling on the share market is with the odds. Banks suit definitions for themselves in order to extract more fees over and above the high interest they charge on credit cards.
    If you felt offended by my expletive then you should not have offended me and other people in my position by calling us dumb and lazy.
    23rd Mar 2016
    The young people of today just take ATM fees in their stride. Who cares it's only a couple of dollars attitude. One look at my kids bank statements have me in disbelief at times. They just accept them as part of their lifestyle.

    Just wait to we get unmanned service stations like they have in New Zealand. I filled up a Corolla hire car at one of them. No dockets was available for the transaction so I wrote down the cost of nearly $50NZD. Next day my credit card showed a cost of $180AUD. Rang the bank and they said leave it for a couple of days as it usually sorts itself out. Luckily it did because I had no real evidence of what I had paid except the fact that a Corolla would not hold that much fuel.
    23rd Mar 2016
    It's fine if you live in a large city or town, in a small town you dont have many options to get your wages out either the local or small shop that's about it and they charge about 2.80 no competition and they all so limit the amount you can get out 200 dollars so it will take you 4 to 5 transaction to recive your wages add that up every week becomes quite a bit over the year should be able to claim it on our tax
    23rd Mar 2016
    Try ING online bank. They reimburse all fees charged at ATMs as well as any fees charged for payWave.
    24th Mar 2016
    i live in cambodia and get charged $5 per $100 for withdrawals and on my statement it says this is for using a foreign atm, well crikey i dont have much choice, i am being penalized by the bank because they dont have their own atm machines in this country
    26th Mar 2016
    If you are lucky to have funds with some banks you get a limited amount of fees waived.
    I withdraw cash when I pay for groceries or some retail stores such as target or Kmart.
    2nd Apr 2016
    The focus on convenience is too narrow.
    The fee also has to be paid when your bank doesn't have an atm nearby or is ooo.

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