I've just gone to take some cash out of an ATM (Cash Machine) in Seattle. I visited about half a dozen in the end, and every single one wanted to charge me an extra fee (typically about $3) for the cash withdrawl on my (non-US) card. This was at bank ATMs in the centre of town, at their branches, rather than in a supermarket or somewhere.

In the end I had to give up and let one of them charge me (I needed cash!), but it was both unexpected and rather annoying. Having gone to the trouble of getting a card that wasn't going to charge me lots to use it abroad, I'm instead hit with fees from the owner of the cash machine.

Was I really unlucky to only find ATMs that wanted to charge me as a foreign user, or do all American ATMs do that? And if only some do, what banks should I be trying to find to avoid being hit with the fee?

  • At JFK airport the cash machine didn't charge us...but everywhere else in NYC we were charged...!
    – user6658
    May 7, 2013 at 14:52
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    If you travel a bit, consider getting a basic account with one of the global banks, e.g. Citibank or HSBC. If you have one of their cards, you can generally withdraw cash fee-free (except maybe a conversion fee) at any of their ATMs worldwide.
    – Sam
    Apr 27, 2014 at 3:25
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    The trouble is that their conversion fees can be quite poor, while the card I want to use has no fees and no spread on it. Withdrawing a few hundred dollars, I'd be better off paying a few dollars in fees rather than use a Citibank card with a 3-4% spread!
    – Gagravarr
    Apr 27, 2014 at 9:13
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    Forgot to mention it in my bounty text: If someone knows a store that offers cashback via MasterCard/Visa that is also an option. All stores I know require your card to be on an US debit network. With foreign cards you always need to select "credit" in a store, even if it is a debit card.
    – neo
    Jun 9, 2016 at 17:56
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    If it makes you feel better, you're not being discriminated because you're a foreign user. Most U.S. banks charge fees for users of any other bank to use their ATMs, whether that bank is foreign or domestic. Jun 9, 2016 at 21:42

10 Answers 10

  1. Try a credit union. Many of them boast surcharge-free ATMs. Lots of smaller banks don't collect surcharges either. Those that don't often will have a big sign saying so near the ATM. The Credit Union National Association, the Independent Community Bankers Association and The Co-Op Network all have ATM locators on their Web sites.

  2. Ask for cash-back when you use your ATM card at a grocery store. This service is free at many stores.

  3. Bankrate's 2010 Checking Study found that 99.1 percent of ATMs charged a fee to noncustomers, a few ticks above the 98.7 percent that charged a fee last year. Of course this means there are still SOME out there!

  4. (From same survey) the average fee is $2.33. So at the least, try and beat that target ;)

  • 4
    I also suggest withdrawing as much money as you can at once (without withdrawing more than you'll need), so you are hit with fewer fees. This is advice I follow religiously, as I use a US bank account, and withdraw money at Mexican ATMs--and have not found any with no fees!
    – Flimzy
    Oct 31, 2011 at 7:21
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    +1 for the grocery store idea... but, when in america do as the americans do => use credit ;)
    – rs79
    Oct 31, 2011 at 13:01
  • In the case of Mexico I think there is a tax or some other kind of government fee on ATMs which cannot be avoided. Nov 3, 2011 at 7:30
  • The TechCU (Part of the Co-Op network) and located in San Francisco does charge $3 on foreign bank accounts. Just tested it :(
    – alengel
    Jan 25, 2016 at 17:48
  • @alengel - is it the ATM charging, or your foreign bank charging for an overseas transaction?
    – Mark Mayo
    Jan 25, 2016 at 23:50

I would be very surprised if you managed to find an ATM that did not charge you a fee. US card holders are also charged fees if we use an ATM that is not the same bank as our card. Then we usually get a fee from both banks: the ATM's and our bank (for not using one of their ATMs). Some non-US banks that branches in the US; I think that would be the only possibility to avoid a fee.


Yeah, same story here, but i think i got only charged ~1.50 - $2 earlier this year (Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Idaho, Washington).

My strategy was to just take out fewer, larger amounts what would last me a week or so and pay with credit card for expenses > $50 like grocery shopping, gas stations, motels etc.

But ask yourself how much money you would really save if you waste 1h in traffic and burning gas, just to find a fee-free ATM and save $3.


Some European airports provide ATM machines that will give you USD. Personally I have seen them in Frankfurt and Manchester. Just grab some dollars before going to the US and pay the rest with your credit card. Last time I went, I survived on $20 in cash.

  • 1
    I thought that most of these issued USD, but charged you in EUR or GBP at their own exchange rate (which normally isn't very favourable)?
    – Gagravarr
    Oct 31, 2011 at 5:28
  • I only used it once, and then I didn't notice any difference. Then again, I only took $20 to have emergency cash, so their own exchange rate is still less then the excessive fee's some american banks ask.
    – user141
    Oct 31, 2011 at 8:08
  • Amsterdam has them as well, both before and after customs. @Gagravarr most I know will charge you the same rate as you'd be charged withdrawing foreign currency at an exchange desk for that same bank when using an ATM card, interbank rate+service fee for using a credit card, just like when withdrawing the local currency.
    – jwenting
    Sep 13, 2013 at 5:57
  • +1 for this idea, Kuwait also has them at the airport. Dec 31, 2014 at 5:14

There are some pairs of banks across the world which apparently have agreements not to charge each other's customers extra fees.

I work in tourism in Australia and some travellers tell me if they go to bank XYZ they can avoid fees.

As an Australian travelling overseas I am not so lucky.

But check with your bank in your country whether they are part of such a scheme and if you are lucky there will be one or two banks whose ATMs you can use free of fees.

(Oh and XYZ isn't the name of an actual bank, it's a stand in since I can't remember any of the banks they've mentioned.)


If you are in the UK you have several options, Barlcays customers are part of an ATM global alliance which includes Bank of America you still pay a 2.99% Non-Sterling Transaction Fee but you don’t have to pay the £1.50 Non-Sterling Cash Fee. If you are lucky enough to have one of the few fee free or low cost cards such as Norwich and Peterborough then your best bet is to look for a credit union or one of the few banks that don't charge however I admit they are very difficult to find. Another option would be to avoid the fees and get cashback (although do check that your bank does not have a high purchase fee.) Finally you could use Western Union and send money to yourself, if you send online there is no fee (bank transfers only) and you have up to 14 days to collect the money. I use online banking to send myself more money if needed and I avoid having to take out a large sum at once. The exchange rates are competitive and can often work out cheaper when balanced against card fees.

  • That global alliance also has BNPParibas and Deutsche Bank as a member. As stated, you won't be charged the ATM charge, but of course still your bank's international withdrawal charges. The exchange rates you get within this alliance are normally very good (quite close to, if not even, the interbank rate).
    – Max Wyss
    Dec 31, 2014 at 11:57

These answers may change with time.

You may have to look for ATMs that don't charge you fee for withdrawing money but your bank may charge you nontheless. You should probably look for signs that state that there are no surcharge/fees on the ATMs but for example convinience store chain Wawa offers no surcharge ATM in their stores these are provided by PNC bank. And so on and so forth.

McDonalds had ATMs that charge $1 for withdrawals (that's a year old).

There is also a matter of cash network membership for the bank for example a friend of mine was able to withdraw fee free using a Master Card but another friend with a VISA wasn't able to do the same at the same ATM.


For quite some time California did not allow surcharges on ex-USA cards, but this has changed. Some other states may still have such a rule.

Finding fee-free ATMs is a challenge.


You can use PNC Bank ATMs or go to an Aldi grocery store if you want to withdraw money without the surcharge in the USA.

  • 1
    Any chance you could find a reference for these two being free?
    – Gagravarr
    May 29, 2014 at 16:03
  • @Cortez Thomas PNC charges a minimum of $2-$3 just for a "foreign" (i.e. non-PNC) card at their ATMs. I would assume that PNC charges the same for truly foreign cards (from another country) Mar 11, 2018 at 16:28

US banks do not charge a fee because it is a foreign card, they charge a fee because it is not a card issued by that bank. Cardholders of US based banks also pay the ATM fee when they access money at another bank.

About the only way to avoid paying the fee would be if the cardholder's bank has a fee waiver agreement with specific US banks, something that they would need ask their bank about.

  • 1
    In almost all other countries I can think of there are at least a couple of ATMs that don't charge an access fee. But apparently that is not the case in the US or at least those ATMs are not easily discoverable. It used to be that some US banks waived that fee for foreign cards (they do get some payment through the card's network) but that seemed to stop some years ago.
    – neo
    Jun 16, 2016 at 17:41
  • @neo - That is a pretty broad sweeping statement considering there are close to 200 countries on this planet ;-) But ultimately, there is no free lunch, banks that waive ATM fees make their money by using poorer exchange rates. Anyone who believes bank marketing pitches .....
    – user13044
    Jun 16, 2016 at 19:48
  • That's why I qualified my statement with countries I know of :). The exchange rate is not set by the ATM operator (if you press the right button that is) but your bank so that should not be a factor in waiving fees. The ATM operator does get money in any case (paid by the card issuer). I don't know the US market specifically but usually it's something between 0.50 USD and 3 USD. Of course the issuer needs to make that money somehow but that can (at least here) usually be checked by looking at their price list and the exchange rate they publish.
    – neo
    Jun 16, 2016 at 20:34
  • @neo - the fee waiver versus exchange rate just an example of 'no free lunch', not specifically addressing this question.
    – user13044
    Jun 16, 2016 at 21:14
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    Sure. There are two companies involved. First the ATM operator. They get paid both by the card issuing bank (called interchange) and the customer (called access fee). Even if they waive the latter they still get the former. Second the issuing bank. They need to pay the ATM operator and get money through direct fees and the spread in the exchange rate. The price these two companies charge have no direct relation to each other. If an ATM waives a 3 USD fee the customer actually pays 3 USD less. This question is about those ATM operator access fees. No "versus" with exchange rates involved.
    – neo
    Jun 16, 2016 at 21:27

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