Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ATM Charges Up Dramatically across Nation

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

ATM Charges Up Dramatically across Nation

Article excerpt

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Americans have found automatic teller machines to be wonderfully convenient dispensers of cash.

Now they're learning ATMs are pretty good at collecting cash as well.

ATM fees and charges are going up _ sharply. Seattle banks used to charge 50 to 60 cents to use another bank's machine. Now charges have shot up to 75 cents to $1. Want to use an ATM out-of-state while on vacation? That'll cost you $1.25 to $1.50.

And Seattle is relatively inexpensive by national standards. The national average for using another bank's machine was $1.10, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Federation of America and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Want to pay $2 to use another bank's ATM? Become a customer of Bank of America, which raised its fee on using a so-called "foreign" teller machine from $1.50 per transaction to $2. And although still in the minority, more banks are adding fees for customers to use their own ATMs.

So are Americans rebelling against these escalating fees, threatening to retreat to the Jurassic era of banking, to their less-costly checkbooks?

"Consumers by and large unfortunately are largely apathetic to ATM fees," said Robert Heady, publisher of Bank Rate Monitor. "I don't think consumers' awareness of ATM charges is as high as credit card rates."

"If you ask customers in surveys and focus groups, they say they don't like fees but they're willing to pay," added John Kresge, senior vice president and product manager at U.S. Bancorp in Portland, Ore. "People have always shown a willingness to pay for convenience."

More than 7 billion times last year, Americans trooped to 87,330 ATMs to withdraw cash, deposit money, check balances or, in a few exotic cases, buy bus passes, stamps or mutual funds. That's up from just under 5 million in 1988, according to American Bankers Association statistics.

Think that increase is fueled mainly by greater availability of machines? …

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