No more withdrawal fees: Welcome news from Australia’s big four banks

The ‘foreign ATM’ fee is set to become a thing of the past, with the remaining three of the big four banks following Commonwealth’s lead in abolishing the publicly disliked minimum withdrawal fee of $2.00.

On Sunday afternoon, after CBA’s announcement, ANZ, National Australia Bank and Westpac all indicated they will no longer charge customers for withdrawing money from competitor ATM’s.

According to Reserve Bank data, more than 250 million withdrawals occurred across all Australian banks by non-customers last financial year, with financial institutions making over $500 million during this period.

NSW Treasurer, Scott Morrison indicated the CBA’s decision was the result of Federal Government pressure, saying “The Turnbull Government has been working hard to ensure bank customers get a better deal and this is further evidence we are getting results.”

Spokesman for Choice consumer group, Tom Godfrey says the decision is a welcome relief for consumers. “With many of us struggling with the cost of living, no longer forking out $500 million to the banks each year to access our own money will be a welcome relief.”

ATM withdrawals in Australia have been steadily declining in recent years, with cashless spending increasing and until recently, the number of ATM’s around the country had continued to grow. Banks and other owners of ATM’s have said their returns from the machines are being crunched, as they spend more money on maintaining machines that are ultimately being used less.

On CBA’s announcement, Mr Godfrey added, “This is one bank that needs a good news story,” given recent controversies with CommInsure, the bank’s financial planning division and its referral to the courts over alleged non-compliance with money-laundering legislation.

Morrison added, “Australians are sick and tired of all these fees that mount up.”

There is now a push for all banks to abolish the fee, with the act set to be a strong competitive move on the major four’s behalf. Mr Godfrey said, “We shouldn’t be paying them, the United Kingdom has already shown they can run an ATM network that is free of fees.”