Where to Find Free ATMs

Avoid ATM Charges

Woman using ATM
Your bank's ATM is free for you to use.. Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

It’s frustrating to pay ATM fees when all you want to do is spend some of your own money. Not only do you get charged by the ATM operator, but your own bank may ding you as well. Those fees add up throughout the year, and that means you have less to spend on things that matter. So, how do you find free ATMs that help you keep more in your bank account?

Your Bank

The simplest (and sometimes least convenient) solution is to visit your bank when you need to withdraw cash.

Your bank’s ATM is free for you to use, although customers from other banks will most likely have to pay fees. If possible, plan ahead – will you need some extra cash for an event coming up? You’ll save on ATM charges if you can withdraw funds from your own bank’s ATM and eliminate the need to get cash elsewhere in a few days.

Unfortunately, your bank might not have ATMs located where you need them, but there are other ways to pull money out of ATMs for free.

CO-OP Network for Credit Union Members

If you belong to a credit union that's part of the CO-OP network, you’ve got access to over 30,000 free ATMs nationwide. Many of these ATMs are located at credit union branches, but you can also find them at retail outlets such as Costco and 7-Eleven. In addition to using free ATMs, many credit unions allow you to walk in and work with a teller through “Shared Branching.” If your credit union is one of them (and you can find a branch of another Shared Branching member), take advantage of that service.

To find out more, visit CO-OPATM.org. There, you can search for ATMs nearby, as well as get free ATM locator apps.

Your Card’s Network

Depending where you bank, the cards issued to you are probably part of one network or another. Banks large and small team up with card networks, so using an ATM for free is just a matter of finding ATMs in the right network.

Which network should you use? Your bank can tell you if you ask, and you’ll get pointed in the right direction if you use an “ATM Locator” or similar at your bank’s website. If your bank is no help, take a look at your debit or ATM card: on the back of the card you may see logos for various card networks (or you might not, depending on your card). Those logos tell you where to look for free ATMs in your area.

Several networks are listed below. If one of the names matches the logo on your card, head to their website for more details and to find free ATMs nearby. Many of these sites also offer apps that can direct you to the nearest location using GPS. Note that some networks also list stores that allow you to get cash back on purchases (you can always make a small purchase if there’s something you need or if it’ll cost less than a nearby ATM).

A few of the major networks include:

As you use ATM locator tools, keep in mind that some of them may show ATMs will cost you money.

In some cases, the ATM is free (it won’t charge a surcharge), but your bank will charge you for using that “foreign” ATM. To avoid foreign ATM charges, look for banks that allow you to withdraw anywhere, fee-free (some online bank accounts, including Capital One 360, don’t charge foreign ATM fees).

Alternatives to the ATM

If you can’t find a free ATM nearby, there may be other ways to avoid charges.

Cash back: you might be able to get cash back from a store when you make a purchase with your debit card and use your PIN. Just be sure not to spend money on things you don’t need. With a little bit of planning, you can stock up on cash you’ll need for the next few days while you stock up on food at the grocery store.

Pay with plastic: if you’ve got a debit card on you, why not use it instead of paying with cash? If you’re with a group, you can even pay for others’ expenses and have them repay you in cash (saves a trip to the ATM too). Keep in mind that swiping your card all around town may be riskier than using your card at ATMs – every time you use your card you expose your card information to thieves. However, you generally have some protection as a consumer, and bank ATMs can also be compromised. Using a credit card would be safer – just be sure to pay it off every month.

Continue Reading...