Outsmarting ATM Surcharges: How to Avoid Fees at Walgreens, CVS, and Beyond

In a world increasingly reliant on digital payments, ATMs remain a crucial source of cash access. However, the convenience of withdrawing cash often comes with a hidden cost: ATM surcharges. These fees can range from a few dollars to as high as $10, adding an unwelcome expense to your everyday transactions.

While ATM surcharges are a common practice, they can be particularly frustrating when encountered at retail locations like Walgreens and CVS, where you might be running errands or picking up prescriptions. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to avoid these pesky fees and keep your finances in check.

1. Utilize surcharge-free ATM networks

Retail giants like Walgreens and CVS often partner with ATM networks that offer surcharge-free withdrawals to customers of participating banks and credit unions. For instance, Walgreens partners with the Allpoint network, providing access to over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. Similarly, CVS has partnered with the MoneyPass network, offering fee-free withdrawals at over 43,000 ATMs across the country.

By checking your bank’s affiliation with these networks, you can identify surcharge-free ATMs near you. Many banks provide a list of participating ATMs on their websites or mobile apps, making it easy to locate convenient options.

2. Consider cash back options

If you can’t find a surcharge-free ATM nearby, consider taking advantage of cash back options at retail stores. Many grocery stores, pharmacies, and convenience stores allow you to withdraw cash when making a purchase using your debit card. This method eliminates the need for a separate ATM transaction and its associated fees.

While cash back limits may vary by store, they typically range from $20 to $100. This strategy proves particularly useful when you need a specific amount of cash and can conveniently combine it with a planned purchase.

3. Open an account with a bank that offers fee-free ATM access

If you frequently withdraw cash, consider switching to a bank that offers fee-free ATM access. Many banks, both traditional and online, provide accounts that eliminate surcharges, whether you’re withdrawing from their ATMs or ATMs within specific networks.

By carefully reviewing bank account options, you can find one that aligns with your banking needs and eliminates the hassle and cost of ATM surcharges.

4. Plan your cash withdrawals strategically

To minimize the need for frequent ATM withdrawals, consider planning your cash needs in advance. Withdraw larger amounts at once, reducing the number of trips to the ATM and the potential for surcharges.

Additionally, try to anticipate cash needs for upcoming expenses, such as paying for parking or making cash-only purchases. Planning ahead can help you avoid last-minute ATM runs and the associated fees.

5. Utilize mobile banking apps for ATM location services

Many mobile banking apps offer ATM location services that can help you identify surcharge-free ATMs in your vicinity. These apps often display ATM networks, surcharge fees, and even directions to the nearest locations.

By utilizing these location services, you can make informed decisions about where to withdraw cash, ensuring that you avoid unnecessary ATM surcharges.

By employing these strategies, you can effectively navigate the world of ATMs and avoid the frustration and cost of unnecessary surcharges. Remember, a little planning and research can go a long way in keeping your finances in check.