4 locations that are infamous for pay-to-use ATMs

By UK CreditCards.com

It can be tempting to use the closest ATM, rather than look for your bank or building society's ATM. However, be careful: Those cash withdrawal fees can quickly add up. 

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More than 10 years ago, all banks and building societies agreed to offer customers the opportunity to withdraw cash from their own ATMs for free, according to the UK Payments Administration. However, the agreement did not apply to specialist companies, which are now installing ATMs with cash withdrawal fees throughout the country.

The original idea for ATMs with cash withdrawal fees was that they would be placed in areas that would not be commercially viable for a bank to run an ATM due to low footfall. However, in the last ten years, the number of these ATMs has rapidly grown and they have started to appear in more populated areas such as the High Street.

Luckily, according to the Link network, the number of pay-to-use ATMs has dropped in the last three years, after reaching a peak in 2007. However, there are still a number of locations throughout the UK that are infamous for ATMs with cash withdrawal fees.  

Here are just some of the locations that you should watch out for when running low on cash: 

1. Train stations
At train stations, many people have no choice but to pay to access their money, as once inside there is often no alternative. This is hard to swallow for many commuters who have become used to the free services that used to be found in train stations. More rail companies are installing pay-to-use cash machines at their stations in favour of free-to-use ones because they receive a share of the profits from the provider.

2. Petrol stations
One of the most common places to install fee-paying ATMs is at a petrol station because of the demand for access to cash. It can be very difficult to avoid these charges as many smaller, independent outlets do not accept credit or debit card payments below a certain amount.

3. Pubs/nightclubs
It can be awkward paying for drinks by card in a pub or nightclub, and many places will not accept card payments so having cash is a must. This has seen a spurt in the number of charging ATMs in pubs and nightclubs across the country, which are taking advantages of consumers' need to access cash. The charges will depend on where you are, but they will be similar to other fee-paying ATMs -- anywhere between £1 and £10.

4. Convenience stores
Small convenience or corner stores often don't accept card payments unless they are over a certain amount. Therefore, it is much more profitable for the shop to install a fee-paying ATM and receive a share of the profits, than to pay any bank charges for accepting card transactions.

ATM providers claim that these fees are essential to keep the cash machines in place. The fee is used for the running costs of the ATM, and without the fee, there would be no cash machine at all, they say. However, campaigners against fee-paying cash points, such as Nationwide Building Society, understand the need for these ATMs but are concerned about the fact that the number of free cash machines are not growing at the same rate.   

How to avoid ATM fees
Plan out your trip ahead of time and bring cash if you think you'll need it at a location that's known for pay-to-use ATMs. For example, if you are planning a night out or a long journey, withdraw cash from your local branch in advance. Most ATMs with cash withdrawal fees are located in places that either do not have a bank nearby or do not accept card payments, so do your research beforehand.

Debit card holders can also avoid paying more than necessary to withdraw cash by paying by card where possible, even if this means purchasing more goods and/or services to go over the spending limit. Depending on what you buy, this may make more financial sense than paying fees to access cash.

See related: Study: Overseas ATM withdrawals costly; Charitable giving through ATMs idea presented

Published: 21 September 2011