/ Money

Is your area dominated by pay-to-use cashpoints?

Do you find yourself walking miles to track down a free cashpoint? Last night the BBC’s Rip Off Britain drew attention to areas forcing residents to use ATMs that charge to withdraw cash. Do you live in one of them?

Finding a ‘hole in the wall’ can be difficult enough. But when you do finally stumble upon one, discovering that it charges you a couple of quid to take out your money is a double whammy.

Despite what you might think, this is even a problem in London. High streets like Shoreditch often don’t have free-to-use cashpoints; instead you’re forced to pay a fee. That is unless you walk all the way to Old Street or Liverpool Street stations – both a good ten minutes on foot.

Last night, the BBC’s Rip Off Britain went North to the Liverpudlian towns of Anfield and Toxteth. Here, free-to-use cash machines have virtually disappeared. In fact, the Liverpool Echo worked out that 81% and 71% of cashpoints in Toxteth and Anfield respectively charge to take out money.

This compares to 34% of ATMs nationally. The residents on the show complained of 20-minute walks to track down a free ATM, where they’re being charged around £1.75.

Charged to take out your own cash

I’m not talking about banks’ cashpoints – these are generally free. I’m talking about the ATMs operated by companies like Cardpoint, YourCash and NoteMachine. You’ll find these on both the high street and in shops – in fact there are over 20,000 of these pay-to-use ATMs in the UK. Rip Off Britain estimates they bring in as much as £130m every year.

We were sent loads of complaints about pay-to-use ATMs when we took this debate to Twitter. Dan (@danthegooner) refuses to use them, with the one down the road from him charging a shocking £3. Rosie (@WiltshireWalker) tries and get cash back from a shop instead, adding that she ‘wouldn’t use those pay cashpoints out of principal’.

What if you don’t have a choice? Not all shops give cash back, and with post offices closing in many areas, not everyone has the chance to withdraw cash for free over post office counters.

A tax on poverty?

Liverpool councillor Paula Keaveney told Rip Off Britain about the problem in her city:

‘It’s a tax on poverty and if you look at areas of deprivation where people are on low incomes and they’re having to pay to get their own money out, all that’s happening is the problems are being made worse.’

Link, the company that runs much of the cash machine network, does think that there’s a case for pay-to-use machines, however all charging decisions lie with the individual members of the Link network, and not Link itself.

Still, with bank branches closing around the country, surely someone has to ensure that everyone has access to a free cashpoint, especially in deprived areas. Link’s CEO John Howells said that there ‘should not be any deprived areas in the UK which do not have a free-to-use ATM’ and they want help to track down any such locations.

So, do you find it difficult to find a free cashpoint in your area? How much are you charged to take out money? And should it be a privilege to gain access to your own cash?


Let’s hope the UK doesn’t become like the US in this respect, where there are often two fees – one fee charged by your own bank for using another bank’s cash machine, and another fee charged by the cash machine’s owner (even if it’s a major bank). They even charge for balance enquiries.

Ozzbozz says:
12 February 2012

Sorry to dissappoint you but I hear RBS and Natwest which are owned by RBS, which in turn is owned by us, has decided to not allow access from bank of Ireland bank machines because they wouldn’t pay a certain fee.
So it might end up going back to the bad old days of when ATMS first came out and you could only use your own banks or if you want to use anothers pay a fee, nevermind using the wee ones in shops and petrol stations.
Just go intoa P.O. and withdraw money over the counter most bank accounts work there and you can get any amount like I did the other day when I had £4. 🙂


I can’t remember every having paid to use a cash dispenser. I don’t object to the idea of charging for using one that would not exist otherwise (i.e. it would not be worthwhile for a bank to install one) providing that the charge is clearly marked, as in the picture in the introduction.

A little planning makes it unnecessary to use these machines other than in an emergency.

Sophie Gilbert says:
11 February 2012

The best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley, and when they do and you’re poor, it’s nice not to be extorted money for the privilege of withdrawing a little of your own cash.


Supermarkets often offer cash back at their tills, without charge. Installing and maintaining cash dispensers is not cheap, and someone has to pay for them. My experience is that there are plenty of free ones and I have been amazed to find free cash dispensers in remote Scottish villages where the locals might not be impressed by your rendition of Burns. 🙂


Hi Wavechange, I have to agree with Sophie here. As I reference in the piece – it’s even a problem in London! Sometimes it even seems deliberate, but with banks closing I can see why they’re disappearing.

No problem with charging cash points existing, but if some areas are dominated by them, many people are feeling forced to pay to get access to their own cash.


Maybe I should get out more and see what’s happening round the country – not forgetting to take plenty of cash, of course. 🙂

Perhaps the banks should review their provision and find out where the greatest demand is. Maybe I am lucky having five within a mile of where I live, though three of these are at a Tesco store.


The situation is even worse near my home in the New Forest – no cashpoint at all. Only a post office that doesn’t accept my bank’s card. Only choice is to drive to the next village for money.

If you don’t drive, like me, you have to get the train. To get the train without the ticket office being open, you need cash. That or you have to track down the train guard and pay by guard.

Getting cash isn’t simple everywhere!


I can only say that most of the ATMs where I live don’t charge – There are one or two pay ATMs in shops.

Never had a problem except at the race track