Like most folks these days you probably enjoy the convenience of being able to pull up to an ATM and withdraw a little cash when you need it.
But it’s a pretty good bet that you aren’t all that happy with the fees you have to pay for that convenience.
If you’re lucky enough to have a bank that doesn’t charge their customers ATM fees, that’s great!
Otherwise you probably have to pay a fee every time you use a different bank’s ATM.
And depending on the bank, those fees can be substantial.
Most banks charge non-customers a fee for using their ATMs to withdraw cash. And to add insult to injury, some banks charge their own customers a fee for every withdrawal they make from a different bank’s ATM.
These ATM fees vary widely, but they typically range from around $3 on the low side to upwards of $10 when the two types of fees mentioned above are charged on the same transaction.
But guess what? There’s a very simple way to “withdraw” cash for free. All you have to do is head to your nearest Walmart store.
Walmart allows their customers to withdraw up to $100 in cash as part of each sale. Here’s how you can put that privilege to use:
1 – Select a low-cost item that you purchase on a regular basis anyway and take it to one of the self-checkout registers.
2 – Scan the item and then insert your debit card into the card reader.
3 – Answer Yes when asked if you want to receive Cash Back.
4 – Select the amount of cash you wish to receive (up to $100) and then follow the prompts on the card reader to complete the transaction.
5 – Take your receipt and collect your cash as soon as it is dispensed.
6 – If you need more than $100 simply repeat the steps above while purchasing additional items.
In case you’re wondering if your bank will charge you a fee for withdrawing cash from a terminal they don’t own, the answer is no.
The cash you withdraw in this manner is simply added to the purchase amount of the item you bought with the entire amount being reported to the bank as a single purchase.
For example, if you purchased a $1 item and withdrew $100 in cash, Walmart will report the transaction as a $101.00 purchase. And since banks don’t charge fees for purchases you won’t be charged one for this type of transaction.
By now you’re probably thinking “But you sort of implied the withdrawal would be free. It isn’t free when you have to buy something!”
You’re right of course. You do have to make a small purchase in order to receive the cash.
But remember the part where I said to choose something you buy on a regular basis anyway? Since you’ll actually be using the item (and you would have eventually purchased it anyway), that means your withdrawal really is virtually free.
And besides, having to pay $1 for something you’ll actually use is a lot better than giving a bank $5 and receiving nothing in return except for the withdrawn cash.
Now, about those multiple purchases you’ll need to make in order to make multiple cash withdrawals…
If you think creatively you’ll be able to come up with ways to minimize the amount you’ll actually have to spend.
For example, I happen to love bananas and I buy them all the time.
When I need cash I just pick up a “bunch” of bananas and head to the register. Once there I pull one of the bananas apart and place it on the scanner. A single banana typically rings up at about 25 cents.
I complete that transaction while withdrawing $100, paying $100.25 in total (plus sales tax of course).
I then pull another banana from the bunch and repeat the process.
If I do this four times I end up with four bananas (something I would have purchased anyway) and $400 in cash for a total of $401.00 (plus tax).
By the way, you don’t necessarily have to go to Walmart to make your “free” withdrawals. Plenty of smaller stores give cash back as well. Just check with the store(s) you visit most often and ask:
1 – Do they offer cash back with their purchases?
2 – Do they charge a fee for their cash back transactions?
If the answer to question 1 is yes and the answer to question 2 is no, you’ve found your “free ATM”!