Study: Philly Has Highest ATM Fees in USA
Turns out, at least one of the citywide grunts you hear every day is warranted. A new study by Bankrate.com, an online aggregator of financial information, has found that Philadelphia banks charge their customers the highest rate in the country for using a “non-network ATM”—an average of $1.96.
That number is what your own bank charges you for not using one of their ATMs. It does not include the average $2.50 surcharge ATMs often charge to noncustomers (which is the same in Philly as the national average)—which means locals get charged $4.46 every time they use an out-of-network ATM.
The rest of the study isn’t exactly peachy, either.
Nationally, the percentage of free checking accounts offered by U.S. banks is falling. Only 39 percent of non-interest checking accounts are available to customers free of charge. Monthly service fees are up 25 percent from last year and this is the eighth straight year ATM surcharges have increased.
“It’s not surprising,” says Anne Gemmell, political director at Fight For Philly, a local nonprofit supporting working people. “It’s just another example of banks nickel-and-diming individual citizens, left and right … we have to be aware of who we do our banking with, both in our city and in our school district.”
Gemmell also notes that Fight For Philly is supporting Bill 120650 in City Council. The bill, introduced by Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr., would establish a Responsible Banking Review Committee, which would “provide the City with an annual statement of community reinvestment goals” and “address how the depository will match or exceed peer lending performance in targeting capital access and credit needs disclosed in disparity studies commissioned by the City,” according to the bill’s current language. Members of Fight for Philly will be testifying in favor of the bill on Thursday.
So, this issue is not new. And while there may be a local solution for our tax dollars, rage over banking fees has somewhat subsided compared to what it was, say, a year ago.
In September 2011, at the height of the Occupy movement, a Los Angeles woman named Kristen Christian began pushing what she dubbed ‘Bank Transfer Day’; one day in which Americans would switch from their commercial banks to nonprofit credit unions. (The action was not directly associated with Occupy Wall Street, though she did meet with several of its leaders.) She cited this issue, among others for the mass transfer.
Immediately after Nov. 5, which she chose as the day in question, Bloomberg reported credit unions attracted 40,000 new clients, with an average of about $2,000 per customer. Similarly, after Bank of America announced on Sept 29 of last year that it would be adding a $5 per month debit card fee, about 650,000 clients joined credit unions. Bank of America later removed the fee.
Wells Fargo began charging $7 per month for checking accounts earlier this year for customers in six states, including Pennsylvania. The fee applied to those with less than a $1,500 daily balance, which, as it happens, is close to the threshold for those who are no longer allowed to receive government subsidies in the state.