Avoiding ATM Fees Using the Grocery Store Trick

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards and may receive a commission. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned.

When I can’t find an ATM without fees, I just go into the nearest grocery store, and buy something small and pay for with the ATM card and ask for cashback. In urban areas I look for a drugstore like Walgreens. I’ve never had a surcharge, and it’s a ‘purchase’ so your own bank won’t charge you either for using a foreign ATM.

But what should you buy? If you buy something useless, that’s wasting money too right? If I see something on sale or need something anyways I’ll get it, but my standby is stamps. You’ll use them up sooner or later, the price is the same everywhere, and they don’t lose value.

My Money Blog has partnered with CardRatings and Credit-Land for selected credit cards, and may receive a commission from card issuers. All opinions expressed are the author’s alone, and has not been provided nor approved by any of the companies mentioned. MyMoneyBlog.com is also a member of the Amazon Associate Program, and if you click through to Amazon and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission. Thank you for your support.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Comments and/or responses are not provided or commissioned by any advertiser. Comments and/or responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser. It is not any advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I always wondered, what happens to old stamps when USPS rises its rates?

    PS. I don’t mail much — I buy a set of stamps when the rates go up, and still have some left when the rates go up again.

  2. Next time you go to the post office, buy as many 2 or 3 cent stamps as you need. I went in and asked for the exact number of two-cent stamps I needed during the last increase.

  3. Yup, been doing tat for past 5 years coz I used to live in a small town (and since I bank online, my ATM was not available). I used to buy the 25 cents gum from Walmart and get $100 back

  4. Anonymous says

    Stamps do lose value though.

  5. Yes, Anon is right: stamps do lose value. As time marches on, your stamps will be ravaged by inflation. If my calculations are correct, in 24 years your 2 cent make-up stamps will be worth…1 cent. Suggest you liquidate and roll the proceeds into I-bonds.

  6. Its my favorite trick. I pay maybe 1-2 ATM fees/yr.

  7. Tough crowd 🙂

  8. the ATM fee hits when you just finished dinner in a restaurant and they tell you that they don’t accept credit cards. Cash or check only. That happened to me once and I ended up paying $3.50 to the bank who owns the ATM, $1.50 to my bank, and $3.00 to the restaurant. Because this “famous” BBQ place is in the middle of nowhere, I had no choice but to pay. The food wasn’t even that good, and we saw some roaches roaming around a corner! This is all my friend’s fault who always have passion for Texas BBQ.

    So my advice, always keep some cash in your pocket.

  9. This is actually a great idea. Although I get my fees rebated from usaa so I don’t have to worry about it. I also think gmac will rebate fees too but I haven’t used their debit card.

  10. Anonymous says

    Blake said “Suggest you liquidate and roll the proceeds into I-bonds.”

    ahahahahahah. Good one.

    I’ve also been using this trick for a while. A Kroger even let me get money out without buying anything. The cashier just rang up a 0.00 transaction and I “paid” with my debit card and asked for money back on the key pad.

  11. Good idea but the old Home Depot loop hole was so much better, you buy a $100 GC and go into the store buy a nail for $.60 cents and they’ll give you the $99.40 back.

  12. If you have a safeway around, you can use your discovercard, and get cash upto 50 bucks with your small grocery store transaction and even get Discover CASHBACK on it. I have been doing this for ages.

  13. I use ETrade bank.. no atm fees anywhere.

  14. The easiest way to avoid ATM fees is to sign up for USAA four star checking, open to everyone. They have no minimum balances, and have no fees for ATM withdrawals. And they pay up to $15 worth of other banks ATM charges per month. So I use whatever ATM I want, with no charges (assuming I dont go over the $15/Month)

  15. USAA is no longer allowing non-military to open new accounts.

  16. My husband sometimes finds himself out of cash in the middle of the week and asking if I have any. It’s become old habit to pause before finishing our weekend shopping transactions to check and make sure he has enough cash for the week. And then I add $20 to it (which I stick in our emergency envelope at home.) With direct deposit and many stores taking debit, it is easy to find yourself without any cash.

  17. I would suggest to get the cash back with buying the “gift card” from the store (if you will come back to this store in the near future). Then you put off the time to make the decision (on what you should buy) and still keep the purchasing power.

  18. Actually with a 5% cashback card at grocery/drugstores stamps aren’t the same price everywhere. It’s small change but I’d hate to buy a stamp with my debit card when I can use citi/chase/amex 5% cards.

  19. I’m not sure about that Discover Card Cashback trick. I’ve never done it because I always thought it was a cash advance, which does not have a grace period.

  20. Ha… I think we can use our debit card to buy something (or gift card) and get the cash back. Then.. in the near future, you bring your receipt and the thing we bougth back to the store and ask for a refund. Therefore, it won’t hurt the chance we use Citi/Chase/Amex 5% rebate.

  21. Will,

    Discover treats it as purchase from grocery store. If they have a 5% cashback special even better. You will still have the same grace period as ever. No cash advance at all.

  22. hazygrey says

    I never get why people pay ATM fees. I’ve done this maybe once in the past 3 years. I use my credit cards whenever I can for the reward points and use about $200-300 in cash each month. I make sure I have some cash in my wallet and some extra cash (like $60) in the house and hit my bank’s ATM about a couple of times a month when I get low. But then I live in Manhattan – maybe a lot of people live far from their banks?

  23. Constantine says

    Go one step further and get paid to take cash! Use your discover card and take up to $50 at most grocery stores. Buy stamps or something usefull and add $50 cashback at the register. You will get up to 1% and the whole thing is treated as a purchase. You get about 50 cents for each cashback. Back when I used to work in an urban area I went everyday and just deposited the cash in the bank atm at the store. Free float too.

  24. Yes, you can do cash back at the grocery store with Discover Card and it’s coded as a purchase. No fee. I’ve done it before. There used to be a page about it on the Discover Card web site, but I can’t find it. I think Discover called it “cash over” on the page.

  25. I usually use a GMAC atm. You can withdraw money from any bank and it will reimburse you up to $6 for ATM fees.

  26. what’s the highest cash amount can you get from using debit card? For instance, if I want to buy a $400 tool from Home Depot, can I actually get $400 from Wal-mart first? That 5%, then home depot has some 10% off coupons. That’s a lot of savings.

  27. I don’t use banks anymore.
    I’m tired of all the hassles, fees, holding periods for large check deposits, etc. I don’t like how banks will give the green light to an overdraft via a bill on autopay, yet impose limitations on how much of my own money I’m allowed to take out of the atm on a sunday at disneyland. I don’t like finding out that somehow my card has been demagnetized and I’m SOL until I can get to the bank and spend 10-15 minutes waiting in line and another 20 minutes going through all the crap required for a temporary card, ordering a new card, and withdrawing the money that I needed yesterday.

    In fact, I’m straight tired of having to find an atm when I want my money.

    The banks don’t pay nearly enough interest for the privilege of using my money for their investments anyway.

  28. @Oper, so what do you do in lieu of banks?

Speak Your Mind