Could ATM User Fees Be A Thing Of The Past?

Is this the end for ATM user fees?

For ATM users, the machines’ transaction fees are a necessary evil; a price to pay for convenience. The occasional swipe of your card at an automated machine won’t break the bank but it doesn’t take long for the fees — which can range from $1 to upwards of $3 or $4 — to add up.

The NDP is once again taking aim at the fees, urging the Conservative government to reel in the charges and impose a cap, limiting the fees per transaction to 50 cents.

NDP consumer affairs critic Glenn Thibeault says the proposed 50-cent cap is “entirely reasonable” and that with ATM transactions costing the bank 36 cents per transaction, the 50-cent cost would still help the banks “recoup their operating costs while maintaining a healthy profit margin.”

Banks Blasted For Pricey Fees

The motion applies only to ATMs owned by regulated banks, not the “no name” machines installed in many bars and convenience stores. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, there are more than 18,300 of these bank-owned machines across Canada and 26 per cent of Canadians report using them for the majority of their banking needs.

Are those Canadians getting hit with a fee each time? Not likely. Banks don’t charge fees to users who are clients and the CBA says that 75 per cent of ATM transactions in 2012 were done at the customer’s own bank machine, where fees were avoided. In an interview with Global News, Bruce Cran of the Consumers’ Association of Canada called the fees a “non-issue.” “People who use their own bank — and that’s probably everyone — don’t get charged anything,” Cran said.

Fees Are Necessary, Critics Say

Other critics of the NDP’s proposal say that fees cover costs associated with transactions made by a non-client customer — for example, when a BMO or CIBC customer uses an RBC machine to withdraw cash from.

In a statement about the issue, the CBA noted that there is transparency around the fees. “The convenience fee is clearly disclosed before the transaction is completed and the non-customer has the choice of either accepting the fee or cancelling the transaction and using one of their own banks’ machines.”

“This is no different than buying milk at a convenience store rather than a grocery store. Customers know that they will pay more at a convenience store but make the choice of paying for that convenience.”


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