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A Timely Survey of Bank ATM Fees

“Need cash? Use your ATM card here!” suggests a large banner displayed outside a First Nationwide Bank branch strategically located 1 1/2 miles from the Santa Anita Park racetrack.

Non-bank customers who take First Nationwide up on its offer will pay for it--$1 to be exact. That is what the thrift charges non-customers for automated teller transactions.

Such charges aren’t unusual, as a survey out this month shows. West Palm Beach, Fla.-based Bank Rate Monitor reports that ATM transaction fees at the country’s 25 largest banks and 25 largest thrifts are rising, becoming a bigger source of revenue for financial institutions. The trade publication said its survey shows that ATM fees have risen an average of 15 cents in 1994 from a year ago.

The survey is timely. Two consumer organizations that have long complained about the fees disclosed this week that the Justice Department is looking into allegations of antitrust law violations in how ATM fees are set. The inquiry is also said to concern fees for bounced checks.

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The Consumer Federation of America and the U.S. Public Research Group say ATM fees vary little from bank to bank--and that banks make 78 cents for every $1 they take in on such fees.

Banking industry representatives have consistently denied the allegations.

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Name watch: The label on a bottle of Niagara water boasts it is the “champagne of bottled water.” That should make the folks in Irvine proud. The reason: The source for Niagara drinking water is Irvine tap water.

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A fluid sense of geography plays a role in other brand names. The source for Rocky Mountain drinking water is a well in Santa Fe Springs, according to a company spokesman. Mount Shasta water comes from a spring 165 miles from the mountain in Baxter, Calif.

Whence the names? A spokesman for Niagara explains the name has less to do with the source of water than the source of management. The company’s founder hails from Niagara Falls, N.Y.

A spokesman said Mount Shasta water takes its name from its bottler, Shasta Beverage Co.

Robert Humphreys of Rocky Mountain Industries said the name “came off the top of the owner’s head.”

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Odds and ends: Support group watch: A display at Raging Waters invites visitors to join the water park’s “support group.” The San Dimas company is seeking approval from Los Angeles County to expand. Meanwhile, the licenser of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers reports that parents who can’t find the scarce action figures are forming support groups around the country. . . . Relief for landfills: The makers of the Lifetime Filter boast it “greatly” benefits the environment because users no longer need disposable filters for their air-conditioning and heating units.

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Clarification: MCI said some of its existing long-distance rates are a third lower than local long-distance rates tentatively approved for Pacific Bell by the state Public Utilities Commission. But MCI said it has not pledged to underprice Pacific Bell by a third in the local long-distance market, as reported here July 29.

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Automated Teller Fees

Here’s a look at what consumers pay for certain ATM transactions at some of California’s largest banks and savings and loans. No institution listed here charges its own customers for ATM deposits or withdrawals. Point-of-sale fees are charged on purchases made with the card, such as buying gas at an Arco station. Some institutions waive fees for customers who meet certain conditions, such as meeting a minimum account balance.

Non-customer Balance Institution transaction Point-of-Sale Inquiries BofA $2 $1 a month $2 First Interstate 2 10 cents $2 Wells Fargo 1.50 to 3* $1 a month 50 cents American Savings 1 10 cents N/A Cal Fed 1 no charge N/A Coast Fed 1 no charge N/A First Nationwide 1 25 cents 35 cents Great Western 1.25 no charge 50 cents Glendale Fed 1 20 cents N/A Home Savings 1 no charge $1

* Fee varies depending on the amount withdrawn.

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Source: Bank Rate Monitor

N/A=not available


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