The 3 Biggest Banks Extracted $6 Billion In ATM And Overdraft Fees From Us Last Year

Back in 1998, comedian Al Franken published a satirical novel where the fictional Al Franken ran a single-issue presidential campaign against ATM fees in 2000. A technical malfunction erased ATM deposits, making his single issue a crucial one, and Franken ended up in the White House. Today, he is a sitting U.S. senator, yet not involved in the 2016 presidential race where excessively high ATM fees are an actual issue being discussed.

Capping ATM fees at $2 is an actual campaign promise from Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, and his primary rival Hillary Clinton has also addressed the fee issue. According to an analysis by SNL Financial (not related to the NBC comedy program) and CNN, Americans paid $6 billion in ATM and overdraft fees just to the three biggest banks. That’s an average of $25 going from the pockets of every adult in this country to the coffers of JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.

You never pay any ATM fees? Well, no, and that’s the problem. Since fees are easier to avoid when you have more money in your account to insulate you from overdrafts, ATM fees disproportionately affect poor people, who might not be able to drive around to different ATMs to find one in their network.

There are ways to avoid fees that don’t involve having a lot of money sitting idle or driving past a dozen other ATMs to reach one for your bank. Some alternate options include using your debit card in stores and taking cash back instead of using ATMs, also known as the Bank of Hot Wheels.

Yes, You Can Avoid Those Bank Fees [Consumer Reports]
ATM and overdraft fees top $6 billion at the big 3 banks [CNN]
Why Not Me? [Amazon]