Pittsburgh Leads Nation In High ATM Fees

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Most of us use them — getting cash from an automatic teller machine, or ATM.

There’s no charge if we stick to our own bank’s ATMs, but use another ATM, and it can be costly.

“About a day or two ago, I stopped at a mini-mart, and it was a little machine, and it cost me over $5,” said Tyler Bondi, of South Park.

Across the country, ATM fees are up 55 percent in the last decade.

“Over the course of a year, this is something that can add up to hundreds of dollars,” says Greg McBride, a senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com

McBride has studied ATM fees and the news is not good, especially locally.

“We see markets like Pittsburgh where a lot of the fee pricing is like a school of fish, they are tightly clustered around these high levels,” McBride told KDKA money editor Jon Delano.

Pittsburgh loves being number one in just about everything, but not in this.

Bankrate.com has found that Pittsburgh has the highest ATM rates of any city in America, beating Los Angeles, New York and Philadelphia.

The Steel City has the highest fees at $5.19. While Dallas has the lowest at $4.07.

Local bank customers don’t like what Pittsburgh banks are doing.

“These are unnecessary fees,” says John Whitehall, of Shadyside.

Consumers often get charged twice, first by the out-of-network ATM and then by their home bank.

“I think it’s an inducement by the banks to get you from using someone else’s ATM,” says Whitehall.

That’s part of it, says University of Pittsburgh business professor Jay Sukits, who has worked for several banks, but so is the drive for banks to make money from fees.

“Banks, this is all banks, have been trying to earn more and more fee-based business,” said Sukits. “It gives them a lower risk-type stream of revenue because then they don’t have to depend on the interest rate market.”

And while there is competition here, two major banks – PNC and Citizens — dominate the market.

That means consumers need to look carefully for a bank.

More from Jon Delano

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