Monday, 21 July 2014

ATM fees

It seems that ATM fees are very unpopular.   The Age (and other Fairfax media) ran a report about Galaxy Research's finding that people don't like ATM withdrawal fees when they use a "foreign" ATM.    It was mentioned that the typical fee seems to be moving up from $2 to $2.50.

But I'm sorry, I don't see any reason for indignation (at least, in relation to domestic ATMs).  Why shouldn't people be charged a fee when they use an ATM that's not operated by their own financial institution?   To me, it's a bit like walking into McDonalds and asking for a KFC product, or asking Qantas to sell you a Virgin ticket.

I think it's excellent that, if necessary, you can withdraw money from just about any ATM, but what's the problem if you have to pay when you use another bank's machine?  

It's said that people will drive to the other side of town to get petrol a few cents cheaper, so what's wrong with walking a few metres up the street to to get to an ATM operated by your own bank?  Although there are exceptions (small towns and airports come to mind), ATMs tend to be a bit like bananas - they bunch up.    Chances are that where there's one brand of ATM, several others won't be far away.

The use of  linked networks is sometimes overlooked, too.   The NAB and Redi ATM networks can be used interchangeably without fees, as can CBA/Bankwest and Westpac/Bank of Melbourne/St George.  I've seen a few Bankwest machines in 7/11 stores.  Another option is to use EFTPOS and the "cash-out" facility.    But of course the simplest option is just to plan ahead (albeit a little out-of-favour in our "instant gratification" world).

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