The pursuit of free lunch money

Last time I looked at my budget, I checked my bank statements to see how much I spent on bank fees. What jumped out was the $60 I spent in ATM fees in the past year – those “too lazy to walk to my own bank’s ATM” fees. Neither my accountant nor my personal trainer would be happy with that, so today when I went to grab lunch and found myself cashless I thought I’d make the effort.

I walked past Suncorp, Bank of Queensland and Westpac ATMs – and ignored 11 other closer machines in the opposite direction – in search of my nearest rediATM. The rediATM iPhone app tells me it is only 350 meters away, which seems a doddle, but it doesn’t know that pedestrians in Sydney need to make an application to cross the road and must then wait impatiently for a billion cars to pass before they are afforded the luxury. This can take a while.

Of course, when I got there the ATM was broken. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?) But this was not your usual “This machine is not currently in service” kind of broken. No, I’m talking about the totally-dismantled-and-lying-in-pieces-all-over-the-footpath kind of broken. Innards out one side, screen missing, keypad on the ground, wires all over. According to the ATM technician at work on it, “Somebody head-butted it.”

If you know William Street in Sydney, you’ll know that this is not at all unlikely.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how I might avoid all this shopping around for cash. There are two particularly interesting options. ING’s Orange Everyday account actually rebates the $2 ATM fee from any ATM in the country, as long as you withdraw $200 each time. Or Bankwest’s Zero Transaction Account gives free use of any Big 4 ATM, as long as you deposit $2,000 a month into it. But both of these mean giving up the really good interest rate I get on my current product, and changing the way I manage my money. Another option for me would be to switch to Suncorp, whose ATM is practically next door, but that only works when I’m at Mozo HQ and is of no use at my local shops.

Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and it seems that perhaps there’s no such thing as free lunch money any more, either. Perhaps this is why that guy head-butted the ATM.

Rather than shopping around for cash every week (or hitting your head against a bank wall), ask yourself whether you might be better off spending some time shopping around for the right account. And the right account is different for everyone – which is where Mozo’s bank account comparison tables come in.

The pursuit of free lunch money was last modified: June 29, 2015 by Andrew Duncanson

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  1. I understand you. But I think you missed something. Go get yourself a pretty little 28 Degrees Mastercard.

    Go take money out at an ATM using it, and then when you get back to the office just pay off the card. You will find that the money will appear on the card around the same time as the transaction appears on the card. This means no interest payed!!!

    And even if you do pay interest it is a hell of a lot smaller than any ATM fee.

    The only catch is you need to use a Westpack ATM. Having this option has saved me a tone of Time/Walking/Petrol/Money…. the list goes on.

    1. Mozo

      Nice idea. The 28 Degrees card is the only one I can think of that has no fee for withdrawing cash. Even if you pay it off immediately you might get hit with a couple of day’s interest, but less than a $2 ATM fee.

      But it doesn’t work for me. I’d still need to hunt down a specific ATM, and then on top of that I need to remember to log onto internet banking and make a transaction. That actually complicates my lunchtime, rather than making it simpler!


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