ATMs: Convenience At A Price

Fall is just as it should be in Media, Pennsylvania -- bright sunlight, holiday season decorations going up and the local bank upholding small town traditions: personal attention and no nasty ATM surcharges.

While most banks are charging non-customers for using their machines, First Keystone Federal Savings Bank has refrained, reports CBS News Correspondent Thalia Assuras.

"We're not big. We're small," says bank president Donald Guthrie. "We want to be of service to the people in the community and we want them to feel we are a community institution that cares."

But consumers are getting more and more angry. They don't want to pay extra to get at their money.

"If I go to one and it does start to charge me, I pull my card out and walk away," says one woman, "because I don't think it's fair for me to have to pay to get my own money out of a bank."

But banks say you do have a choice.

Most people use their own bank's ATM and pay nothing. But if you want to bank virtually anywhere, there's a price. The industry says the explosion in the number of ATM is expensive, an estimated $50,000 per unit for things such as security and maintenance.

"Nobody requires them to use an ATM that's not theirs," says Don Oglivie of the American Banking Association. "They make the voluntary choice to do that. You're basically paying a convenience fee if you're not using our own bank's ATM."

But what you may not realize is that you're paying twice whenever you use an ATM at a bank that's not your own: the surcharge plus a fee to your own bank.

Here's how it adds up: The average surcharge is $1.37, but your bank already charges an average $1.20 for that same transaction, and part of that goes to the ATM.

Ed Mierzwinski of the Public Interest Research Group says, "Banks make $3 billion excess revenues by charging consumers twice to use the ATM only once."

Charges consumers plainly don't like. They want the freedom to bank anywhere for free.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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