The High Cost of Cash: ATM Fees on the Rise

PHOTO: Getting cash from an automatic teller machine has never been so expensive as out-of-network fees continue to rise.PlayGetty Images
WATCH Costly Bank Fees Add Up When Using ATMs

Getting cash from an automated teller machine not affiliated with your bank has never been so expensive.

Out-of-network fees -- the price a consumer must pay for withdrawing from an ATM that's not in their bank's network in addition to the fees their own bank may charge -- are at an all-time high.

A consumer can face a fee of $4.52 on average per out-of-network ATM withdrawal, according to a survey released Monday.

That's a 21 percent increase in just the last five years and 4 percent increase in the last year. And that can add up to almost $500 a year if a person withdraws cash from an out-of-network ATM at least twice a week.

The increase in fees "coincides with these low interest rates we've been seeing," financial expert Stefanie O'Connell said. "In a low-interest environment, banks don't make as much revenue from lending, so they have to find new ways to generate revenue. ... Increasing their fees is a simple way to do that."

Banks have also blamed the spike on pressure to reduce other fees, such as overdraft fees. Though banks raked in $34 billion in overall fees in 2014, fewer people are using ATMs than they did a few years ago.

"In today's world, with more technology and more apps and more ways to pay. ... You don't need as much cash as you used to," O'Connell said.

To avoid costly fees, she said that consumers should consider online banks that don't have the same expenses that brick-and-mortar banks do. Some of these online banks also reimburse ATM costs, she noted.

"If you can become a little bit more tech savvy, it actually might serve you well," O'Connell said.