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Compare bank accounts with free ATM access

If ATM fees get you down, use these tips to keep your bank account balance up.

Nearly everyone has found themselves begrudgingly spending several dollars just to use an ATM. While $4 or $5 here and there doesn’t sound like that much, over time those fees can start to add up. If ATM fees are frustrating you, there are a few things you can do to keep them down.

Top ways to get free ATM access

Use an ATM that belongs to your bank

Even if you can’t use any ATM you want for free, most banks won’t charge you to use their own machines. If you choose a bank with a large network of ATMs, it’ll be easier to stop at an in-network machine when you need cash.

  • TD Canada Trust. Over 2,800 ATMs in Canada and a total of over 4,000 ATMs across North American (no TD fee at ATMs worldwide).
  • RBC. Over 4,600 ATMs across Canada.
  • CIBC. Over 3,800 ATMs across Canada. CIBC ATMs are available at select Pioneer gas stations and ONroute locations as well as Toronto Pearson International Airport.
  • Scotiabank. Around 3,600 ATMs across Canada and more than 44,000 worldwide through the Global ATM Alliance.
  • HSBC. Over 3,500 ATMs in Canada and over 500,000 ATMs in the US as part of THE EXCHANGE and HSBC networks.

Use a partner ATM

Some banks partner with other banks to share ATM machines, increasing the number of fee-free machines customers have access to. For example, Tangerine customers can use any one of Scotiabank’s 3,500+ ATMs across Canada without paying a fee. Global ATM Alliance, THE EXCHANGE, Allpoint, Accel, Interac, PLUS, Maestro, Interlink, and Cirrus are other widely-used ATM networks in Canada.

Check to see if a network logo is somewhere on the front or back of your card to find out if you have access to an ATM network with your account.

Access thousands of ATMs around the world through these global ATM networks

Two of the largest ATM networks in Canada are Global ATM Alliance and THE EXCHANGE (known as Accel in the US). If you have a debit card from a member bank, you can use it at ATMs offered by other banks in the same network without paying any surcharges. Bear in mind that foreign conversion fees and other charges may still apply to your transaction.

Banks belonging to each network are listed below. Note that institutions in the Global ATM Alliance own other financial institutions (for example, Scotiabank owns Tangerine), making the true number of member banks larger than what is listed. Banks listed under THE EXCHANGE are all Canadian, but there are many other member banks in the same network outside of Canada.

Other ways you can avoid ATM fees

ATM locator tools

Financial institutions have tools on their sites and mobile banking apps to use to find the closest ATM or branch for free withdrawals.

Get cash back when paying for your purchases

Most major grocery stores, drugstores and gas stations will let you get cash back if you make a purchase. Some stores offer this for free, while others have a surcharge, which is usually lower than ATM fees.

Bottom line

It costs ATM operators a fraction of the fee they charge consumers to use an ATM — and those fees get higher every year. Every dollar counts, so save your money by getting a fee-free chequing account or using in-network ATMs.

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