Washington Mutual Drops Free ATM Access

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For me, the only reason I knew Washington Mutual existed was because they offered free ATM access with no fees on their end. According to this recent Reuters article (via Fatwallet), as of November 17th that will be no more. Bummer.

An surprising quote from the article:

Bankrate.com estimates that U.S. consumers pay nearly $4 billion a year in ATM fees, with an average $1.40 surcharge.

$4 Billion??? Yowza. We are lazy folk. I can’t talk though, because I contributed to that $4 Billion myself.

The population of the U.S. is about 296 million. So that’s $13 in fees from every man, woman, and child. And even though I try to be a smart consumer, I’m only slightly below average. No wonder WaMu wants a piece of that pie.

Off the top of my head, ways to avoid ATM fees:

» Find the nearest grocery store. Buy some gum or soda, and get cash back. The cashier’s don’t care. Sure the soda is overpriced but at least you got something, and you won’t get double ding’ed by fees at your own bank too.

» Use a bank that gives you ATM rebates, like perhaps a local credit union.

» Carry more cash. Since being caught without cash I’ve recently been carrying more like $60-$80 instead of $40 with me, and try not to go below $40.

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  1. Can you write a post about banks…I Have WAMU as my checking account. All if offers to me is free checking, and nothing else.

    any suggestions?
    comparison btw banks?

    jus wondering

  2. I’m still baffled by the whole ATM thing. I mean, I haven’t been to an ATM in probably a decade. 95% of what I buy can be paid for via a credit card (giving me cash back, and a 30-day float for interest), and most of the rest by check. I cash a few rebate/misc checks once in a while, or get a little cash back on a deposit, and that lasts me forever. Why are people using so much cash? And if they must use cash, why aren’t they thinking ahead till, say, tomorrow, and getting 2x as much?

  3. My economics teacher told me that you can walk into a store that accepts debit/credit and ask them to give you cash back. Not sure if there is any truth to this but I know that Safeway allows for cashback on their machines and so I’m sure they’d let you so this way you don’t have to buy gum. 🙂

  4. yeah cash back is the best to avoid fees. On rare occasion I did have used those store ATM’s that have fees

  5. 14 billion? That’s $14.55 per year for every man/woman/child in the U.S.

    Boggles my mind.

    I’ve been a FirstIb customer for years. Free national ATM, transfers, billpay, interest, etc.

  6. Uncommon guy says

    The whole “free” concept is what drew me to WaMu also. I may have to rethink my relationship with them, since they’re changing the deal.

    On a related note, I just got a notice from NetBank that my minimum account balance is going from $500 to a whopping $2500. I’ll have to eat the account closing fees, since there’s no way I can meet that requirement at this time. Banks who change their terms meet with my disdain.

  7. I end up paying a dollar a couple of times of year inevitably due to needing cash while on vacation (or basically out of state) but I’m nowhere near $14 a year. yowza!

    I’m at a small bank that is part of a free ATM network. So my branch is about 10 mins away, but I can get free ATM access at a bank that’s about 3 blocks from me.

    I also opened a USAA checking account that I think will become my main acct early in the year and they rebate ATM fees (up to a point, but it seemed generous to me)

    I get paid twice a month, so shortly after each payday we make our cash run (to the free ATM) and get out a set amount. It used to be $300 each time but we ‘re putting so much on the citi dividend card that we’ve been experimenting with getting $100 each time.

    Vacations do crimp that style though

  8. A key point in WaMu’s announcement is that they are only adding ATM fees for individuals that do not have an account with WaMu. If you have an account there you will not be charged any ATM fees at any of their ATMs.

    In another article I read about this it stated that they were adding the fees partly because their ATMs were getting on average 2.5 times more use than other banks’ ATMs and as a result WaMu customers were being inconvenienced with long ATM lines caused by users from other banks.

    In the interest of full disclosure I am from Seattle and have banked with WaMu since I was a kid, but I do not work for them.

  9. Arrrggghhh. What is this world coming to if I can’t take advantage of a bank’s no fee ATM. I’m a credit union customer and used WAMU once in awhile if it was convenient. Guess I’ll have to look elsewhere. Luckily my credit union has a lot of ATM’s here


  10. USAA Federal Savings Bank is a great deal! Checking and Savings with no minimum balance requirement, tiered interest rates on Savings (2.8% for balances between $1,000 and $5,000). Free web bill pay with no direct deposit requirement. Web banking, Phone banking, Excellent Customer Service! Free Unlimited Checks.
    Best part is: 10 free withdrawals per account per month, PLUS up to $15 rebated for atm surcharges, per account..per month.
    Not that i’d ever do that many, but i could actually make a total of 20 withdrawals (with my Checking and Savings Account) and get back $30 in rebates….I don’t even have a local bank anymore…have my paychecks direct deposited, and any small check deposits, i just mail to them in the postage paid envelopes….
    You can even link your local bank account to them to transfer funds (in either direction)…
    Definately one of the best banks going…USAA is for military personel but the Banking and Investing are open to everyone, everywhere….They are located in San Antonio, Texas.

  11. USAA is good to deal with if you are current or prior military only. I myself have some loans and insurance through them. Though when it comes to savings and checkings you are really better off elsewhere for the interest you can gain. Has mentioned throughout the blog, Emigrant Direct and ING are top contenders for savings accounts.

  12. Hi Garrett: Hadn’t checked in here for awhile, just saw your post. Just to clarify, while it is true that for USAA Insurance and Loans you do have to be either present or former military, this is NOT TRUE for USAA Banking or Investment Services….Everyone is Welcome!
    You can open accounts with them by phone, by having them send you literature with an application, or directly on their website (quickest way)…at their site, you register for a USAA Member # and once you are in the site, you can open your accounts.
    While i would agree with you that their interest rates used to be pretty low…they have improve considerably…Savings is tiered…2.10% on balances below $1000. between $1000 and $5000 its 2.85% between $5,000 and 10,000 its 2.95 Over $10,000 you get 3.05% etc…
    Yes, you can get higher with Emmigrant Direct or ING or HSBC Direct, but for an overall package, this is pretty good (the others don’t give you free checking, atm rebates, free bill pay, etc.)
    If you really want to fine tune it: Get USAA Checking and Savings and add on Emigrant Direct or HSBC Direct and get 4% there….you can link them to your USAA Checking and keep the bulk of your money there…. There you go….perfect package!

  13. USAA Federal Savings is now paying 3.0% interest on balances over $1,000 in their tiered savings account…combined with all the banking services they offer, this is an excellent deal!

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