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.
  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.
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.
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!

(Photo: ctoverdrive)