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Important Update: Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage

The FDIC deposit insurance rules have undergone a series of changes starting in the fall of 2008. As a result, certain previously published information related to FDIC insurance coverage may not reflect the current rules. For details about the changes, visit Changes in FDIC Deposit Insurance Coverage. For more information about FDIC insurance, go to www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits/index.html or call toll-free 1-877-ASK-FDIC (1-877-275-3342). For the hearing-impaired, the number is 1-800-925-4618.

Spring 2004

Simple Ways to Avoid Unnecessary Transaction Fees at the ATM
With ATMs, convenience is the name of the game. But as with pretty much everything in today's marketplace, convenience sometimes comes with a cost. For example, withdrawing cash from an ATM that doesn't belong to your bank or that's not part of its multi-bank ATM "network" can cost you anywhere from $1 to $4 per transaction. "The amounts may seem small but fees can add up over time," says Denise Davis, an FDIC Consumer Affairs Specialist.

What can you do to get the best of both worlds — convenient service and little or nothing in the way of fees? Here are some suggestions:

Use your own bank's ATMs whenever possible.
Practically all banks offer accounts with free ATM transactions to their own customers. However, some institutions also have accounts that do charge their own customers an ATM fee. So, look carefully at the fees and choose the type of account that best fits your needs. If you plan to use ATMs a lot, consider an account with free withdrawals from an institution with many convenient locations. And if the account you choose is subject to ATM fees, you'll still pay less using your own bank's machine compared to going elsewhere and paying a second fee (although there are exceptions as noted below).

Take precautions before using another institution's ATM. Look for an ATM indicating that it doesn't impose an "access fee" or "surcharge" to non-customers. Your bank might be able to provide the names of other institutions that won't charge you a fee. Or, go to one of several Internet sites that list surcharge-free ATMs. Also become familiar with your own bank's fees for using another institution's ATMs. Some banks, for example, have agreements not to charge ATM fees to each others' customers. Remember that if you're unable to use a surcharge-free machine, you'll probably face two charges — one from the ATM's owner, and the second from your own institution. Note: Federal law requires that an ATM alert a non-customer about a surcharge before a transaction is completed.

Consider withdrawing larger sums each time.
For example, make a single $100 or $200 ATM withdrawal instead of several $20 or $40 withdrawals. "You'll save time, energy and the cash that you would have spent on transaction fees," says Davis.

Get cash back when using your ATM/debit card to make a purchase.
"Many folks are unaware that you often can get cash back for free when you use your debit card to make purchases at the grocery store, the pharmacy or other businesses," says Elizabeth Kelderhouse, an FDIC Community Affairs Officer. Some stores also will cash a check free of charge or for a fee that would be less than what you'd pay at an ATM.

Avoid ATM-related mistakes that can trigger bounced-check fees.
Immediately deduct your cash withdrawals and store purchases, including any fees, in your checkbook. Also don't rely on the ATM for information about how much money is in your checking account. "The balance shown on the ATM screen or receipt wouldn't include checks you've written that haven't been paid yet or debit card transactions that haven't been posted to the account," cautions Howard Herman, an FDIC Consumer Affairs Specialist. "Accurately maintaining your checkbook is the best way to know if you have funds available.

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Last Updated 06/02/2004 communications@fdic.gov