Free ATMs Are Coming! Will You Leave Your Big Bank Now?

Ever see a brilliant business idea and think to yourself: “why didn’t I think of that?” I did that when I read this story about a simple idea that will possibly change a lot of the things we hate about banking.

When you use an out-of-network bank, you are often charged by that bank you aren’t affiliated with to use their ATMs. Fees usually range between $2 and $4, and when you’re only taking out $40, that’s a pretty significant percentage of your withdrawal. I hate it, and it’s actually the only reason I still have a Bank of America checking account today: it’s so freaking convenient!

Free ATMs NYC is planning on launching a new type of ATM throughout the country by the end of 2012. These ATMs won’t charge you any fees (but your bank may charge you for using an out-of-network ATM) but in return you can simply watch a commercial.

Free ATMs NYC will charge companies for ad space and that will cover the costs that users were being charged.

Think this is a small market? Think again: Americans spent about $4 billion in ATM fees this year!

If these ATMs show up in my neighborhood, you can bet I’ll be visiting them pretty often and I’ll be able to close my checking account at Bank of America once and for all and end that nightmare.

When I read this, I thought of other applications for the same idea. I hate the idea of paying 8% of my savings at CoinStar just to have them count my coins. What if there was a machine that made me watch a commercial for a minute while it counted my change? I’d sign up for that in a heartbeat!

Readers, do you think free ATMs will catch on? What other “obvious” business ideas have you missed out on?

10 Responses to Free ATMs Are Coming! Will You Leave Your Big Bank Now?

  1. If you go to the right coinstar, you can get a gift card to Amazon and not pay the 8% fee. Or you can take your coins to a bank and have them count it free.

    I also never use ATMs, so this really doesn’t affect me personally. But it’s a good idea.

  2. ira says:

    Depends on how long the commercial is. Will I have to spend a couple of extra minutes at the ATM before it will give me my money? If it’s only a few seconds, fine, but often I’m in a rush when I’m stopping at an ATM.

    • Daniel says:

      @ira, from what I read, it looks like the commercials will be on the sides and won’t slow the process down at all, so it won’t take more time, it will just display ads while you wait anyway.

      At Bank of America, it takes me about a minute to make a deposit, most of that time is just waiting for the system to read my check or print a receipt. I’d be happy to read their ads in that otherwise wasted time.

  3. Oren says:

    I ditched my bank a few years ago and now I use a Charles Schwab checking account. They refund all of my ATM fees automatically so I can go to any ATM I want and I don’t have to watch any commercials!

    • Daniel says:

      @Oren, that’s definitely a nice perk. There’s no reason for me to switch banks at the moment (Bank of America isn’t currently charging me any fees), but it’s something I plan on doing down the road.

  4. I never use ATMs so I really don’t care. At first I kinda rolled my eyes because I do get sick of ad EVERY SINGLE PLACE you look. But hey, I’d rather watch quick ad than pay $2 for an ATM so I guess I’m ok with it.

    • Daniel says:

      @Ashley @ Money Talks, the best part is these ads are sort of passive. Who really cares if there’s a banner in the side while you do your banking? Not me, I’m used to tuning them out by now anyway.

  5. James Feudo says:

    I know people hate the idea of more advertising, but i think it’s a great idea – especially when it helps you save a few bucks. I remember some long distance companies tried the same thing so we’ll have to see if this concept works. But it would be cool.

  6. Leslie says:

    I get all my atm fees refunded at the end of the month (about $15) so I don’t think about them too much. I imagine some people will complain in the beginning then will quickly get used to it just as we’ve gotten used to advertisements everywhere else.

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