Citibank Promises To Credit ATM Fees, But Will Try To Get Out Of It Unless You Badger Them

Tim was pretty sure he met all the conditions of Citibank’s offer to refund ATM fees—he opened his account online and he doesn’t live near a Citi Financial center. When he wasn’t credited, he contacted them to ask why, and was told he had to meet the conditions he’s already met. He had to contact them four times to finally get the $2.00 fee credited as per their advertising. You might be asking yourself, “All that trouble for two dollars?” Well, that’s why he ends his email with this: “Can someone point me in the direction of a better bank that actually provides ‘reimbursement of the fees other banks may charge you for using their ATMs’ without hassle?”

One of the big draws to Citibank for me was the “ATM fee reimbursements” feature listed on the account information page for their EZ checking account. I’m most definitely outside of a county that has a Citi Financial center, and my accounts were all opened strictly online. My accounts are also older than 3 months, so I should qualify for these “ATM fee reimbursements” right? You’d be surprised how hard it is to actually get one…
 
April 4th, at a local bar, I decide to use the ATM to withdraw $120.00. Obviously this isn’t a Citibank ATM, however I throw my card in anyway thinking that I will be reimbursed for the surcharge I’m about to incur. Sure enough, the ATM charges me $2.00. I later check my account balance, and I find that I was not reimbursed. Curious, I send a message to customer service and am told that fees and reimbursements are calculated at the end of a billing cycle. Fine I thought, I’ll just hold off on making any more withdrawals until I can verify my statement.
 
April 21, it’s statement closing time. I check my account statement online, and of course I’m not reimbursed for the fee. Another back and forth with Citibank’s awesome customer service is below:
 


 
In response to the message below, I have checked my statement ending 4/21/2008. On 4/4/2008 I was charged $2.00 by a Non-Citibank ATM for withdrawing $120.00. In accordance with the policy described below, I should have been reimbursed $2.00 at the end of the statement period (4/21/2008). After checking my statement, I was not reimbursed for the fee.
 
At this time I feel that I qualify for the reimbursement of other banks fees because: I opened my accounts online and there are no Citibank financial centers in my county. Please look into this and get back to me.
 
Thanks,
Tim XXXXXXX
 
  Dear Mr. XXXXXX,
 
Thanks for choosing Citibank and your message regarding your Citibank account. I value your banking relationship with us, and it will be my pleasure to assist you today.
 
To qualify for reimbursement of the fees other banks may charge you for using their ATMs, you must be a new client with a mailing address that is outside a county where Citibank operates a Financial Center and established your banking relationship online. You are not eligible for ATM reimbursements if your banking relationship was originally established at a Citibank Financial Center or through CitiPhone Banking® and you subsequently open additional accounts online.
 
Citibank charges $1.50 fee for each transaction completed at any non-Citibank ATM. The total fees for these transactions are assessed to the account at the end of the statement cycle. These fees are in addition to any fee that the owner of the ATM may charge.
 
Citibank is branded on the ATMs in the 7-Eleven and at the Murphy USA stores. Transactions made at these locations, as well as Publix stores will not be assessed the ATM surcharge.
 
You can find ATM locations near you by clicking on the “Find Citi Locations” link at the top of the website.
 
It was my privilege assisting you and I look forward to serving you in the future. Have a great day!
 
If you have further questions, please send a message or call Citibank Internet Client Services at 1-800-374-9700 or collect from anywhere in the world at 210-677-0065 . Representatives are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
 
Sincerely,
Citibank Internet Client Services

 
Here’s the Customer Service response:
 

  Dear Mr. XXXXXXX,
 
Thank you for your message regarding non-Citibank ATM fee reimbursements. It will be my pleasure to review your account.
 
After reviewing your account, I show that Citibank did not charge you a non-Citibank ATM fee. The fee that was assessed was by the other bank and that is why it shows as part of the withdrawal ($122.00). The ATM used for this withdrawal was not part of the participating branches. Regrettable, I will not be able to reverse this fee as it was charged by that bank. Normally you have to agree to this fee while making the withdrawal.
 
Citibank fees are normally charged at the end of the statement cycle.
 
In addition, I show that there are 10 non-Citibank ATM’s in your zip code that you can use completely free of charge. To locate these ATM’s, click on “Find Citi Locations” at the top of the screen. Enter your zip code. A list of participating ATM’s will be displayed for your convenience.
 
I hope I have answered all your questions today. I appreciate you choosing Citibank for your financial needs.
 
For additional information on non-Citibank ATM fee reimbursements, select the ?Search? link and type ?reimbursement? in the key word box. ?ATM Reimbursements? is the first option listed.
 
If you have further questions, please send a message or call Citibank Online Customer Service at 1-800-374-9700. Representatives are available to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
 
Thank you for banking with Citibank. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you.
 
Sincerely,
Citibank Online Customer Service

 
Of course the fee was charged by the other bank, however according to their own policy they provide “reimbursement of the fees other banks may charge you for using their ATMs”
 
Tired of dealing with customer service over email, I decided to call them. After being on hold for 35 minutes with a CSR, he was finally able to find on the website where it says they provide fee reimbursement. After this, I was back on hold for an additional 5 minutes. Upon returning to the call, the CSR began instructing me to only use money pass ATMs because they didn’t cost me anything, and then the line was terminated. Whether or not intentional, I call back and a different CSR tells me that the account had already been credited. I ask the CSR if future withdrawals will be reimbursed, and she informs me that in order to receive future reimbursements that I will need to call them every time I use another banks ATM.
 
Can someone point me in the direction of a better bank that actually provides “reimbursement of the fees other banks may charge you for using their ATMs” without hassle? Thanks!
 
Tim

(Photo: ctoverdrive)

Comments

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  1. hypnotik_jello says:

    I’d look into a Fidelity SmartCash account, they credit ATM fees and they have better benefits than your typical checking account.

  2. PeteyNice says:

    easy….

    [www.schwab.com]

    Unlimited fee refunds and they even throw you a little interest.

  3. USAA has the option to reimburse ATM fees, up to $15 per month, with the Caveat that you have to be in the military or a dependent of someone who is. It’s an exclusive club, what can I say…

  4. Pro-Pain says:

    Citibank = horrible.

  5. snobum says:

    i’ve used umbrellabank.com for years for this very reason. There is a limit per month, but the credit shows up the next day, not at the end of the month.

    By the way, I had opened a citibank account to cash checks (i work, but not live close to a citibank) and had the same exact problem. I’m still fighting with them. The “research” department looked into it and just said “see your account opening documentation”. I called again, and received a copy of the same letter they sent me in the first place. Citi sucks.

  6. snobum says:

    To add to this, last month I received a marketing email from them that says:

    “If you don’t live near a Citibank Financial Center, Citibank will even reimburse up to four ATM fees per statement period that other institutions may charge you for using their ATMs. To qualify, you need to have:
    •Initiated your Citibank relationship by opening your account via Citibank Online

    •A mailing address outside an area serviced by a Citibank Financial Center three months after opening your account online

    •A Citibank EZ Checking, Citibank Account, or Citibank Everything Counts account package”

    Notice it says OTHER INSTITUTIONS MAY CHARGE YOU.

  7. Ron Seigel says:

    How about opening an account at a bank closer to you?

    It’s not exactly rocket science…

  8. elduque says:

    E*Trade. They reimburse you on the spot and are paying 3.25% on checking right now, which happens to be more than the offer with their savings.

  9. chemmy says:

    I never had any problems getting my monthly ATM fee refunds… That’s just me….

  10. xrodion says:

    Citibank is shit trust me my friends father had them and he got rid of them in the 90′s they are flat out crap. they, charge you all kinds of bogus fees.

  11. English, MF, do you speak it? says:

    I second the recommendation for Schwab. They don’t charge ATM fees, and other banks’ fees are credited at the end of the month. I used to use Citibank – there is a 7-11 a couple blocks away, so the ATM was fairly convenient – but it’s even better to be able to use any ATM fee-free.

  12. kilogauss says:

    I’ve been using First Internet Bank of Indiana ([www.firstib.com]) for about 5 years now and they are awesome! They automatically refund up to $6/mo in ATM fees.. doesn’t matter where you live. They also pay interest, free bill pay and they even send you pre-paid deposit envelopes. And when you call customer service, a human answers, and they speak english! Wow! (I have no affiliation with the bank, just a happy customer)

  13. ecwis says:

    @PeteyNice: Another happy Schwab customer here. They also don’t charge any foreign exchange fees and they waive ATM fees worldwide.

  14. Norcross says:

    Find a local credit union. Most don’t charge fees to other credit unions, and the fees are almost always lower.

    That being said, if you’re pulling out $120 at a bar, you should either (a) known ahead of time and brought cash, or (b) chalked it up to being drunk. Granted, Citi should have paid the fees.

  15. jbutler9 says:

    I have a FirstCommand Command Checking Account go here:

    [firstcommandbank.com]

    It pays you back the fees for 10 foreign ATM withdrawals per month, plus they give you a little interest for amounts over $1000

    They cater to military, but you don’t have to be one

  16. waitaminute says:

    First Republic Bank, FTW. I rarely use their ATMs, because there are so few of them.

    On the last day of each month, I get a credit for all ATM fees incurred during that month.

    Also, no monthly maintenance fee. Ever.

    Yay FRB!

  17. camman68 says:

    @Ron Seigel: Did you read the article? He said “Can someone point me in the direction of a better bank that actually provides “reimbursement of the fees other banks may charge you for using their ATMs” without hassle? Thanks!”

    Read the article. It’s not brain surgery!

  18. Lucky225 says:

    Yea, I remember when ShitiBank advertised a checkless debit card account. Their website said “To open an account without a Social Security Number, go to any citibank financial center.” Yet when I went to open the account I got the run around about the Patriot Act.

  19. kelptocratic says:

    Schwab. Like those above say.

    Free, interest bearing checking, free checks, automatic ATM fee reimbursement, and all around stellar service.

  20. HangMeWithRope says:

    Citibank can be like a dog chasing its own tail. I have the same account type you have. Took most of a year until I found a Customer Service Account Manager who also had the same type of account. The solution to the mysterious ATM Fee reimbursements is actually very simple. You need to keep the minimum balance requirement for the account to get the reimbursements. For an EZ Checking account that is $1500. (You might even be able to do these through combined minimums). You don’t get charged monthly maintenance fees ever with this account, but for reimbursements you’ll need to meet the account requirements. At the end of the statement cycle you’ll receive the reimbursements for the just ended month. With regards to Citi, ‘they were the best of times, they were the worst of times.’ They make nothing easy, but as you learn how to use their services, they have some unique ways of doing things and you may find it difficult to go elsewhere afterwards. Good luck!

  21. mysteryman says:

    I work for Citi.

    Our Customer Service is getting worse by the day.

    The bean counters and higher-up’s are stepping over dollars (long term) to pick up pennies (short term).

    The CSR’s are able to help the customers less and less, and are under greater pressure to preform.

    They are also worried about losing their jobs due to layoffs. (Thank you Mortages, investments and Chuck Prince. Go F yourselves!)

  22. topncal says:

    I have used Mechanics Bank for a couple of years. They have excellent service and have always refunded my ATM automatically. Their service was so great that I actually closed my account at a credit union to move all my accounts there. http://www.mechbank.com

  23. NYBanker says:

    Commerce Bank NA (on the East Coast) offers unlimited ATM fee refunds for checking accounts that maintain a $2,500 minimum daily balance.
    TD Banknorth has a NO ATM FEE debit card available in certain states, and some of their accounts have no minimum balance.

    Full Disclosure–I work for Commerce, and we are merging with TD Banknorth

  24. renilyn says:

    USAA

  25. sarora529 says:

    Charles Schwab – Free Checking with interest that automatically refunds ATM fees. They even give you unlimited free checks. Easy choice.

  26. Coelacanth says:

    Okay… stop advocating USAA blindly. Since they have rather exclusive joining criteria.

    Try to be a little more thoughtful and provide a *second* recommendation that anyone can obtain without much hassle (like joining the Armed Forces.)

  27. VA_White says:

    @COELACANTH:
    If you live anywhere with a Compass Bank, I’m pretty sure they also reimburse ATM fees. I don’t know for sure since I use USAA.

  28. rudolph_elkhanna says:

    Got a Fidelity Brokerage account that reimburses ATM transactions and that will send out checks for you… requires another account with Fidelity though.

  29. modenastradale says:

    For those who live on the coasts, First Republic bank ([www.firstrepublic.com]) has amazing service, as well as checking accounts that rebate all ATM fees (including foreign) AND pay interest. Hard to beat!

    I’ve paid $8 to pull out $40 from casino ATMs in Las Vegas, only to watch it get reimbursed at the end of the month. It brings beauty to new heights.

  30. modenastradale says:

    Woah. Why did a First Republic dude suddenly appear in my post? I didn’t put him there…

  31. Kryndis says:

    Whoa, I’m normally the last person to blame the victim, but I actually believe this is a result of not reading the fine print. I’m not going to go check what the fine print is on his account, but in every instance where I’ve seen deals like this the offer is usually very specific that they refund other BANK’S fees. That ATM in the basement of your local bar is almost certainly not a bank ATM, but an independent one. Read the Citibank emails and everyone of them specifically refers to bank fees, not general ATM fees.

    Even USAA’s official policy excludes independent ATMs (though they tend to be somewhat lenient about it, especially if you call and ask). Sorry Tim, but next time go to a bank, not the little ATM in the corner.

  32. Norcross says:

    On a side note, what the heck do you need 120 bucks CASH for at a bar? They almost all take cards now. The only time I needed a large chunk of cash at a bar was if I was purchasing ‘supplements’

  33. Keat says:

    +2 for FirstIB. The few times their system missed an ATM fee rebate (the system wasn’t set up for a 75c surcharge), one email was all it took to get the credit.

  34. scoosdad says:

    @modenastradale: It’s the new Consumerist’s “targeted advertisting” campaign. A company who is mentioned in a post, good or bad, can get their own little sidebar ad next to your post! Sorta like Google’s ads.

    /sarcasm

  35. GreenHawkIA says:

    The University of Iowa Community Credit Union. No hassle, friendly customer service, ATM refunds monthly, and currently including 5.125% interest. I’m in Texas, and haven’t found a local bank yet because the deal is so awesome.

  36. yourbffjill says:

    I second ETRADE, which I’ve had for over 7 months with no issues. Fees are supposed to be reimbursed by the end of business. I took out some money at the airport today (Sunday) and got home an hour later to find I had already been reimbursed.

  37. stefany13 says:

    I use PNC – they reimburse for fees charged by other ATMs during the next business day. I have had no issues at all with getting this reimbursement, but I’m not sure if this option is available at all PNCs (I am in VA).

  38. USAA reimburses ALL my ATM fees, like clockwork every month, and I’ve never had to so much as ask. And that’s just one of the reasons they’re the best damn bank I’ve ever used, period.

    *yay*

  39. suribachi says:

    TD Banknorth if you are in New England.

  40. Nicholeigh says:

    Statefarm bank refunds all ATM fees. I have absolutely no complaints regarding their customer service either.

  41. @PeteyNice: I love my Schwab account. They reimburse my ATM fees at the end of each month like clockwork. Furthermore, they have awesome customer service. I’m completely confident that if I had an issue with this or another feature, they’d get it taken care of quickly.