The great ATM rort

We’ve all been there. Your bank’s ATM is miles away, or it's too cold outside to leave the pub and the allure of the little independent cash repository only metres away.

Whatever your excuse, proceeding with a charged ATM transaction is just a tiny part of a very huge rort.

The Mozo rate chasers estimate that Aussies are now paying $600 million in ATM fees annually, an increase of $40 million on last year.

The reason for the increase? The biggest independent ATM operators in Australia have jacked their fees from the already exorbitant $2 to an almost criminal $2.50 per withdrawal.

Or how about $2 for a balance enquiry? That’s the new fee RediATM will charge external customers, up from $1.

With little competition, and no government regulations keeping watch, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the banks following with a price hike of their own. Will $2.50 to be the new standard?

The top bank accounts

If you find your bank’s ATMs are all hidden in shopping centre basements, check out the alternatives:

Bankwest Zero Account: the best option for avoiding fees. Free use of ATMs from Bankwest plus all the Big 4
ING Direct Orange Everyday: pay no ATM fees as long as you withdraw at least $200 per transaction
The Citibank Plus Account: No fee account, including free withdrawals at Citi, Westpac and St George ATMs
CBA bank accounts: Australia’s largest standalone ATM network with over 3,500 ATMs Australia wide
NAB bank accounts: with their RediATM alliance, you’ll have fee free access to over 3k machines

Minimising the damage

Avoiding ATM fees isn’t rocket science, but here are a few inside tips that will come in handy…

1. Use your own bank’s ATM. (DERR!)
2. “Would you like any cash out?” Why yes, yes I would! Taking money out when you do your shopping is nearly always free.
3. If you must stray from your own bank, NAB ATMs charge less than every other major ATM network for withdrawals and balance enquiries
4. Worst of the worst: steer clear of Customers Limited and Cashcard ATMs, leaders in fee extortion