No More ATM Fees – Open a Schwab Checking Account
It is incredible how easily accessible our bank accounts have become with the proliferation of ATM machines across the globe. From nearly anywhere in the world I am able to withdraw cash from my checking account and in Chicago alone there are thousands of ATM machines. These machines aren’t limited to being attached to banks, but they can now be found dotting every street corner, inside of bars, and there are even temporary machines setup at concerts and summer festivals. I can literally get cash from my bank account anywhere at anytime.
However there is one catch – the majority of ATMs charge exorbitant fees that can add up to some serious cash over time. I’ve had international ATM transactions that have cost me close to $10 and it is not unusual to be charged $2-$5 in the US to withdraw cash.
Everyone knows that as long as they stick to using their own bank’s ATMs than they are spared the fee and all of their withdrawals are free. This is great, but it can be very annoying walking by several ATMs on the way to your bank’s ATM or when you are in a place where you can’t get to one of your bank’s ATMs (think Vegas).
Luckily there is a way to avoid all of these ATM fees. Schwab Bank, the well known brokerage house (they run a ton of TV commercials), offers a checking account that will reimburse you for ALL of your ATM fees. When they say ALL of your ATM fees they really mean ALL, you can withdrawal cash from any ATM around the world and you will not be charged a penny by Schwab and they will reimburse you for any fees the ATM owner/bank charged you. There is no fee to open the account, no monthly fee, no minimum balance, and they don’t require you to setup direct deposit of your paycheck. You can link up your current checking account and move money to and from your Schwab account with ease (similar to how you would with ING for those of you that have an ING account).
I decided to give it a try and I signed up for a Schwab account last month. It was easy to signup at www.schwab.com and within a few days I had $1,000 transferred from my Chase Checking account into my new Schwab Checking account. Around one week later my new ATM card arrived in the mail and it was time to take it for a test drive.
The building I work in downtown has a Chase branch in the lobby and it is very convenient for me to get money out of their ATM because I bank with Chase (thus my cash withdrawals do not have any fees). On June 26th I kept my normal Chase card in my wallet and inserted by new Schwab card into the ATM. A few clicks later I had asked to withdrawal $100 and sure enough the Chase ATM warned me that I was going to receive a $3 fee for using a non-chase ATM card to withdrawal cash, but I proceeded because Schwab had guaranteed me that I would never pay this fee. The machine dispensed $100 in cash and the receipt it gave me showed the transaction debiting my account $103 ($3 for the fee).
I checked my Schwab account online a few days later and I smiled when I saw Schwab had credited me back the $3 fee charged by Chase. I felt a real sense of freedom that I was no longer tied to the normal 2 or 3 spots I frequent to get cash.
It might seem silly to some of you that I now am carrying around two ATM cards, but I no longer am constrained by where Chase decides to place ATM machines and I can withdraw money from anywhere on the planet without paying a fee. Does anyone else use a No-Fee ATM card?