If you’re as careful with your money as I am, you will choose to walk a distance to find your own bank’s ATM in order to avoid being charged fees just to access your own funds.
However, there are days when the weather is horrible, or you simply don’t have time, or there are just no ATM machines from your bank within walking distance.
That’s when you’ll find yourself staring at the ATM machine, annoyed with the fees you have to pay just to withdraw own money. These fees are unfair because they burden low-income individuals such as students.
ATM fees come in different forms. When you use an ATM machine of a bank that is not yours, you are charged convenience fees. The amount can go up to $2.00 per transaction. When you use an ATM machine that belongs to a private operator, the convenience fees can go up to $5.00 per transaction. Then, your bank charges you service fees that can go up to $1.50.
Some people say it is not much, and that might be true for transactions of $100 or more. But for the average student, charges up to $6.50 on a $20 withdrawal to get some food is a pain.
The fact that banks make as much profit off of small transactions as large transactions seems hardly reasonable. Based on Canadian banks’ gross revenue of 2010, service fees make up six per cent of their profit. It is a large percentage considering that the net income of the six largest Canadian banks was $14.3 billion in 2009. Sure, their profits will be reduced, but it is a tiny amount compared to how much money they make.
“If people want to avoid paying those fees, they should use their own bank’s ATM machines,” said Adrian Rotaru, a CIBC customer service representative.
The issue with that type of thinking is that it doesn’t take the elderly and the disabled into consideration. That type of reasoning puts them at a disadvantage due to possible limitations of how far they could travel in order to get money.
It does not take into account the fact that sometimes there are no available ATM machines that belong to your bank. For instance, around the Loyola campus, there aren’t any Bank of Montreal ATM machines within walking distance.
Most banks have student and senior plans to help them eliminate the monthly banking charges. Therefore, banks should do the same concerning ATM fees.
As for private operators, whose main goal is to make profit, there should be some government intervention to limit the amount of money they can charge. It is understandable that private operators install these machines in order to make money, but to make a 30 per cent profit on a $20 transaction is exploitation.
“They charge you so much. It’s definitely frustrating especially when you’re out at night and you need more cash than you have,” said Concordia student Elena Munteanu.
If more people were to voice their discontent, perhaps something could be done. However, banks play a huge role in our economy and the government would probably avoid having disputes with them, and therefore, it becomes a complicated matter.
It might not make a huge difference for banks to eliminate those fees, but every dollar would definitely matter to students.