Sunday, July 19, 2009

ATM fees

I often get gas at a station called Wawa, which is undoubtedly one of the dumbest names I've eve heard for a store. On top of the pumps, the store has been running ads for their no-fee ATMs. One of them shows a man saying, "I saved $175 last year," and the other shows a woman saying, "I saved $24.50 last month." The ad states at the bottom that this is based on an typical ATM surcharge of $1.75.

I'm all for saving money on ATMs, but these amounts are ridiculous. $24.50 in one month? That's 14 withdrawals, or nearly once every two days. I can't imagine a circumstance in which you would need to withdraw cash every other day. Some people may get paid as frequently as once a week, so I could see an argument for that many withdrawals (I don't even average that much), but why every other day? Even the other example, $175 per year, is pretty bad -- 100 withdrawals means more often than once every 4 days, or about twice a week. If there is a reason that you would need to make that many withdrawals, I'd like to hear it.

My bank, by the way, does what I regard as the sensible thing and reimburses customers for up to a certain dollar amount each month. That makes perfect sense: they are saving money from not having individuals coming to one of their tellers or using one of their ATMs, so it is reasonable to encourage the customer in that line of behaviour. In my case, I would use it anyway, since the bank is out of state. My wife and I got tired of changing bank accounts every time we moved, so we just picked one with a generous ATM policy and make all our deposits by mail (or, recently, by computer).

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