Why Banks are Charging $5 for ATM Withdrawls

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You may soon be paying more at the teller (Photo: Getty Images)

Earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase began to charge its customers in New York $1 if they wanted to get a printed account statement from the ATM. Thank you very much, I’ll just guess. But it turns out this may have been the opening salvo in Chase’s chase after new fees. And Chase isn’t alone.

When Congress passed the Credit Card Act of 2009 in the aftermath of the near meltdown of the banking system, the bankers pronounced themselves unhappy with its consumer-friendly changes. They couldn’t understand why Congressmen— who can appreciate money manipulation as much as anyone—would refuse to allow them to retroactively raise interest rates, to exact big fees for exceeding your credit limit, for being a minute late or for basically not giving them enough your money. This from an industry that borrows at close to zero and makes credit card loans that average 15% nationally. That, folks, is called a spread.

Nevertheless, the banks warned that in the post-reform world they would need to make up for the lost fee money—and in the credit card game fees were somewhere around one-third of the total revenues. These bankers are not known for kidding around: get ready for higher ATM fees. Both the Wall Street Journal and CNNMoney have reported that J.P. Morgan Chase is leading the fee parade, bumping the charge for non-customers using its machines to $4 or $5 in some places. Most banks charge two bucks to non-customers. Why is Chase doing this? Because it can. Depending on the resistance, Chase will spread the fee hike to other states and it’s likely other banks will follow. And you can expect more of same: don’t get too attached to the words “free checking.”