A quick stop at the ATM can cost more than you think.
ATM fees hit a record for the 11th-straight year, according to Bankrate.com, which surveyed 247 banks in July and August. The average cost of an out-of-network withdrawal is now $4.69, up 2.6 percent from last year. Overall, ATM fees are up 55 percent over the past decade.
Consumers generally face two fees when using an out-of-network ATM: a charge by the ATM owner for being a noncustomer in addition to a fee from the account holder's own bank for using another company's ATM.
The average surcharge from the ATM owner also hit a record for the 13th year in a row, rising to $2.97 from $2.90 last year, Bankrate said. The average fee charged by a consumer's own bank for going outside the ATM network increased 3 percent to $1.72, another high.
"When it comes to ATM and overdraft fees, a little advance planning can go a long way," said Bankrate.com chief financial analyst Greg McBride. "Knowing where you can make free ATM withdrawals and monitoring your available balance to avoid overdrafts are as close as your smartphone."
Consumers in Pittsburgh have the highest average out-of-network ATM fee of the top 25 metro areas, at $5.19, while those in Dallas have the lowest at $4.07.
Is there any limit to just how high these costs can go? There doesn't appear to be. There is no cap on what banks can charge for fees on deposit accounts despite a wave of regulation by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumer protection in the financial services. (Altogether, Americans paid $15 billion in fees for bounced checks and other overdrafts last year, the CFPB has said.)
Even so, there are some measures consumers can take to keep fees low. Before opening a checking account, it's important to do your research.
A recent report from WalletHub found that choosing the wrong checking account could cost you $750 or more in fees over the course of a year. These charges include not only out-of-network ATM expenses, but also overdraft fees, the price of new checks, wire transfer charges and fees to receive a paper statement in addition to an electronic one.