Owning an ATM is money in the bank

by Josh Fear in The Punch
Originally published in The Punch on February 17, 2011

Each and every day millions of Australians pay financial institutions to access their own money. Some pay more while others pay less, depending on the way they do it. Sometimes, as with EFTPOS transactions, the price consumers pay for their own money is largely invisible, being factored into the prices of goods and services. In other cases, the cost of using your own money is embedded in bank fees, or else in forgone interest from transaction accounts with negligible rates of interest. One of the most expensive ways for Australians to access their own money is by using a third-party automatic teller machine – that is, as ATM not provided by their own bank. In most cases, third-party ATMs charge $2 for every transaction, including checking one’s account balance. In other words, $2 is the price consumers pay every time they are disloyal to their bank. In many cases consumers are charged ATM fees twice in the one transaction, if they first check their account balance and then withdraw cash. In this situation, the cost of a balance enquiry is effectively $4. This ‘double-whammy’ in essence penalises financially responsible behaviour.

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