DC area has nation’s 6th-highest ATM fees

WASHINGTON — D.C.-area consumers pay some of the highest out-of-network ATM fees in the nation.

A new ranking from Bankrate.com say the average ATM cost in the D.C. region is now $4.92, tied with Cleveland for the sixth-highest average ATM fee.

Bankrate.com says banks are charging non-customers more than ever before to use their ATMs, based on its checking account surveys that date back more than 20 years. The average out-of-network ATM fee has risen for 14 straight years, up 53 percent in the last decade.

When a consumer uses an out-of-network ATM, there are usually two sides to the fees charged: that of the bank that owns the ATM and a fee from the consumer’s own bank. Bankrate says that fee has actually gone down, with an accountholder’s own bank charging an average of $1.66 for an out-of-network transaction, down from $1.72 last year.

“While ATM and overdraft fees are down slightly overall, these charges can add up fast. They do, however, remain completely avoidable and with minimal effort,” said Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride.

“Knowing how much money is available to withdraw and finding the nearest in-network ATM is as easy as checking your smartphone,” he said.

In total, the average nationwide for the surcharge from the ATM bank and the fee from the account holder’s own bank is $4.68, down 1 cent from last year’s record high.

And 32 percent of banks surveyed now offer free out-of-network withdrawals to their customers on at least one account.

Where ATM fees are the highest and lowest (both surcharge and fee combined) according to Bankrate:

Highest average ATM fee by Metro area:

  • Detroit $5.28
  • Atlanta $5.19
  • Houston $5.18
  • Denver $5.06
  • Tampa $4.97

Lowest average ATM fee by Metro area

  • St. Louis $4.25
  • San Francisco $4.27
  • Chicago $4.31
  • Milwaukee $4.34
  • Miami $4.37

Other findings from Bankrate’s latest checking account survey:

  • 41 percent of non-interest checking accounts are free, up from 38 percent last year, but down from 73 percent a decade ago.
  • The average monthly checking account service fee is $5.57, the lowest since 2014.
  • The average balance required to avoid a monthly fee is $631, the lowest since 2011.
  • Altogether, 98 percent of non-interest accounts are either free or can become free with a minimum balance.
Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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