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Monday, March 21, 2011

Guide to ATM fees in various countries

The lowest ATM fees throughout various countries are most likely to come from ATM's owned by, or in a financial partnership alliance with your financial institution. In other words Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fees in many counties don't charge transaction fees to ATM users with accounts at the same bank or banking alliance.

Financial partnership alliances between financial institutions affect ATM fees
ATM Networks charge fees

ATMs accessible by the same network, for example PLUS network, may still charge a fee if the ATM is independently owned, or  by another financial institution. ATM networks are not the same as ATM alliances even though there is an ATM network called 'Alliance One'. Several additional factors in various countries can also cause total ATM fees to range between one and several U.S. dollars.

Some of the fees charged by ATMs in various countries depend on individual bank policy,  and banking laws. Other factors that influence ATM fees in various countries are where the home bank is located, which ATM network is being used, when the machine is being used, who owns the ATM, and if a currency conversion service is used.

Access fees are an additional separate charge for being granted mere access to the ATM in addition to any usage or surcharge fee for the ATM. These charges aren't necessarily applied universally in any country, and The American Bankers Association (ABA) has reported attempts at banning access fees in some locations.

ATMs can be located in many countries using the MasterCard ATM Locator  or the VISA ATM Locator. The MasterCard ATM locator also has a search filter for surcharge free alliance networks, locate specific ATMs by network, and include ATMs with no access fees in the country of interest.

Regardless of which ATM is used, for international travelers the currency conversion service is likely to incorporate a 1%-3% charge into the exchanged funds. For Credit Card holders requesting a cash advance rather than an account withdrawal, a finance charge may be added to the cost.

According to the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), ATMs are very transparent when it comes to fee disclosure. Many countries require transaction fees to be disclosed before a withdrawal is made at the ATM. However, reading an ATM in Japanese might not be easy,  and even if transaction fees are required to be disclosed, currency conversion fees may not be evident until you review your bank statement.

Whichever country you live in, or where ever you are traveling, it's a good idea to check  what the fees will be in advance. In addition to consulting the Visa and MasterCard ATM locators, you can also contact your financial institution. It may be helpful to inquire to international banking regulators and travel agencies. Travel websites with blogs that cite user experiences with ATMs may also provide insight into unknown fees.

Sources:

1. http://bit.ly/aQKjQW (Federal Citizen Information Center)
2. http://bit.ly/bxPKKc (ATM Industry Association)
3. http://bit.ly/bK3LsH (American Bankers Association)
4. http://bit.ly/9MflCD (Bankrate.com)

Image license and attribution: GFDL, Limkeeo