ATM and Self-Service Banking: The Importance of Surcharge-Free ATMs


Access to no-fee ATMs is increasingly important to U.S. consumers.

Mercator Advisory Group survey finds 77% of U.S. consumers say they do anything they can to avoid paying ATM fees.

Author: Karen Augustine
Published on: April 27, 2018

Mercator Advisory Group’s most recent Insight Summary Report, ATM and Self-Service Banking: The Importance of Surcharge-Free ATMs, from the bi-annual CustomerMonitor Survey Series, reveals that access to no-fee ATMs is increasingly important to today’s consumer, particularly as banks consolidate their branches.

In 2017, 77% of all respondents to this survey of U.S. consumers said they do anything they can to avoid paying ATM fees, up from 70% in 2016 and representing the highest level since 2011 and 2012. With greater awareness of surcharge-free networks than ever and more banks and credit unions participating, U.S. consumers are increasingly seeking the convenience of no-fee ATMs (67%, up from 57% in 2016 and 60% in 2011).

Responses from an online panel of 3,001 U.S. adults were collected in the annual Banking and Channels survey, conducted in November 2017 and are summarized and analyzed in this latest study from Mercator Advisory Group’s Primary Data Service, which highlights U.S. consumers’ rising use of and interest in a wider variety of self-service and ATM channels. It examines demographic shifts in use, changing preferences and use of self-service channels compared to traditional branch banking including use of ATMs by type and location, willingness to pay surcharges for convenience, importance of ATM characteristics in selection of a new bank, incidence and reasons for switching banks and interest and use of mobile cash access.

“Given that bank branches are closing in record numbers, and cash cannot be dispensed through mobile channels alone, surcharge-free networks serve a rising need,” stated Karen Augustine, Senior Manager of Primary Data Services at Mercator Advisory Group including the CustomerMonitor Survey Series, the author of the report. “Surcharge-free ATM network participation is now a top criterion for consumers in selecting a bank or credit union.”

The report is 61 pages long and contains 25 exhibits.

Companies mentioned include: Avidia Bank, Bank of America, BMO Harris, City National Bank, CO-OP Financial Services, Diebold, FIS, Fiserv, Wells Fargo, Salem Five, JP Morgan Chase, and Fifth Third Bank.



Highlights of this report include:


  • Year-over-year trending of U.S. adult consumer use of self-service banking channels and frequency of use by each method
  • Frequency and use of ATM deposits, envelope vs. no-envelope, cash vs. checks
  • Demographics of preferred methods of depositing high- and low-value checks
  • Shifts in methods of getting cash and depositing checks
  • Change in use of cash and checks during the previous year
  • Frequency of ATM use and types of ATMs used
  • Interest and use of cardless cash access
  • Importance of ATM features and functionality in new bank selection
  • Importance of enhanced functionality such as prepaid card loading, payment services, and coupons and rewards offered at the ATM



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