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The money in your bank accounts is only worth something when you can use it, and that means accessing the funds conveniently. While ATM services add a dash of convenience, it costs a pretty penny to access your funds. In fact, it has become such a commonplace issue that many give it little to no thought, simply consenting to the fee and withdrawing cash.

Despite the continual costs associated with bank withdrawals, few consumers actually know the reason behind those fees. Plus, when you consider the other fees your bank charges for withdrawals, the costs can add up quickly. The best way to avoid paying exorbitant bank withdrawal fees is to understand what you are paying and why. 

Types Of Bank Withdrawal Fees

There are three different types of withdrawal fees to access the funds in your account. Depending on the account you hold and the financial institution with which you do business, you will pay all three costs or none of them. To maximize your savings, it is best to gain a full understanding of what you are paying. By getting a full picture of the situation, you can take steps to avoid paying unnecessary costs for withdrawals. The three types of fees include: 

Regular Account Transaction Fees 

This type of fee represents the amount paid by consumers for services offered by the bank that holds their accounts. They depend on the bank, the type of account, and the service in question. Many accounts have a predetermined number of no-cost transactions. Once the account holder goes through those, there are fees associated with additional transactions. Often, you can find unlimited transaction accounts, something that is especially useful if you use your debit card frequently. 

Thinking about switching banks? Learn how to close your account and switch banks.

Network Access Fees

These fees are those paid by account holders to their financial institution when accessing services through a third-party ATM. If you are withdrawing cash from an ATM not owned by your bank, there will be a service charge in order to access your financial institution’s network. This represents the fee your bank pays in order to access the Interac service and also includes a charge for your bank offering you that service. This is separate from the fee you see pop-up on the screen when withdrawing funds.

Don’t forget to watch out for NSF and overdraft fees.

Convenience Fees

Representing charges to use an ABM machine, these fees go toward those who own independent cash machines. The among is charged by a bank to someone who isn’t a customer with their institution though is using their ABM. When you go to withdraw money from a machine, you will see a pop-up message on the screen asking you to consent to the fee. The money typically goes to the owner of the bank machine, a system that runs loosely like a franchise. 

The Big 5 ATM Withdrawal Fees

Canada has a ‘Big Five’ set of banks, financial institutions that hold the largest portion of the banking market in the country. Each of them charges a different set of fees for ATM withdrawals as well as for having an account through their institution. It’s worth noting that the standard of practice in the industry is to offer free withdrawals to clients at bank-owned ATMs. 

Check out your bank’s institution number.

The amounts differ based on the type of account you hold with the bank, most notably when you exceed the set amount of available transactions for the month. All five of the big banks offer unlimited transaction accounts and those with limits. The big five banks and the fees associated with their services are: 

TD

This financial institution offers multiple plans, though its most cost-effective option is the all-inclusive banking plan. There are no fees associated with non-TD ATMs or machines in foreign companies. A basic chequing account with this bank has domestic ATM fees of $2, foreign ATM fees of $3 if you are in Mexico or the United States. Withdrawals in any other country are charged at a rate of $5. 

Learn how to transfer money to a bank account.

RBC

This bank’s ATM machines assign a $3 fee for non-customers to withdraw cash. The RBC Signature No Limit bank account comes with unlimited transactions and associates no cost for using their ATMs in Canada. The RBC VIP Banking account offers unlimited debits in Canada and the United States. 

Plan on using e-transfers? Find out if you can cancel or reverse an e-transfer after it’s been deposited.

Scotiabank

With multiple chequing accounts offered, consumers can opt for the Ultimate Package through the bank with high-yield savings and unlimited free ABM withdrawals globally. However, the monthly cost of holding the account is $30.95 if you don’t maintain a minimum balance of $5,000. The preferred package is more affordable, costing only $15.95 without a minimum balance. However, it does not offer free ABM withdrawals. 

BMO

Short for the Bank of Montreal, this financial institution offers a whole host of plans. The Premium Plan Chequing Account includes unlimited transactions, though it has a monthly maintenance fee. Conversely, the Practical Rate Savings account offers only 12 transactions every month yet doesn’t have a monthly fee. There is no charge to use a BMO ATM or ABM for account holders, though there is a fee for non-customers. 

Did you know that BMO now offers Visa cards? Check out the BMO Visa Infinite Privilege credit card

CIBC

Another Big 5 bank, CIBC offers multiple chequing account options with monthly fees varying based on the minimum balance held. For example, the CIBC Smart Account has variable options with transaction limits ranging from 12 to unlimited. There are ATM fees associated with withdrawals. Conversely, the CIBC Smart Plus Account comes with unlimited ATM cash withdrawals both domestically and internationally. This account has a minimum balance of $6,000 or a monthly fee of $29.95. 

Tired of your bank fees? Learn how to close your bank account.

Tips On How To Save Money On ATM Withdrawal Fees

Sometimes, withdrawing cash is necessary. Whether it is to take a taxi or visit a shop, there are many situations where it is necessary to have cash in hand as opposed to a debit card. However, if it is an ongoing need, the fees can add up over time. The good news is that there are many ways to save so long as you’re savvy and plan ahead. Potential approaches include: 

  • Cash back at point of sale: Many stores give you the opportunity to withdraw cash when you are making your purchase at the till. Instead of counting as a separate transaction, the amount gets added to your total charge for the purchase. This way, you get the cash in hand while avoiding ABM charges. 
  • Be wary of cash advances: Though they may sound appealing, the cost associated with a  cash advance through your credit card is usually quite high. It is usually much more expensive than withdrawing money from your chequing account, so keep the fees in mind. Plan ahead and avoid using your credit card to withdraw money since there will always be a fee associated with it, especially if you use a machine that doesn’t belong to your financial institution. 
  • Use your bank’s ATM: This is especially helpful if you have an account that features unlimited transactions. Since your bank is already privy to the network if they own the ATM, there won’t be an extra charge for withdrawals. Though it may only be a couple of dollars at a time, it can add up substantially over the course of a month. 
  • Pick a quality chequing account: It might seem alluring to avoid things like minimum balances and monthly account fees, but there are usually drawbacks. Particularly for those who withdraw money frequently, the cost of using ABM and ATMs can exceed the standard charge. When choosing a new account, look back through your bank statements and get an idea of how much you spend on withdrawals. Compare this to the monthly charge of an account with free ATM use and unlimited transaction and see which one is more affordable in the long term. 

Bank Withdrawal Fees FAQs

What’s the difference between an ATM and an ABM?

There are no real differences between an ATM and an ABM except colloquially. An ATM is short for an automated teller machine while an ABM is short for an automated bank machine. Both are e-banking stations that enable consumers to access basic bank services without requiring a customer service representative.

Do all ATMs charge a fee?

Yes, all ATMs charge a fee to consumers who are not clients of the bank in question. Your bank may charge a supplemental fee to access the network in addition to the fee at the ATM. The only way to avoid it is if you have an account with that bank, for instance using an RBC client card at an RBC automated teller machine.

Which bank charges the lowest ATM fee?

The average fee for using an ATM not held by your bank is $3. Most banks don’t charge clients to use their ATMs. All of the big five banks charge similar fees to non-customers. 

Final Notes On Bank Withdrawals

In order to provide services to customers and non-customers alike, all financial institutions charge fees. Depending on your circumstances, there are different ways to avoid paying hefty fees for withdrawing money. A good approach is to research bank accounts and opt for ones with unlimited transactions, even if there is a monthly fee. Look into your local bank machines; and, if you use ATMs frequently, consider getting an account with that company. So long as you plan ahead and withdraw cash responsibly, you can easily avoid paying extra fees to access cash. 

Corrina Murdoch avatar on Loans Canada
Corrina Murdoch

Corrina Murdoch has been a dedicated freelance writer and editor for several years. With an academic background in the sciences and a penchant for mathematics, she seeks to provide readers with accurate, reliable information on important topics. Working as a print journalist for several years, Corrina expanded her reach into the digital sphere to help more people gain insight into the realm of finances. When she's not writing, you can find Corrina swimming and spending time with family.

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