/ 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. 🙂

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.

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

Instead of complaining that a ‘private’ company has given you access to draw money ask why have the banks not installed no charge cash points, they cost money to install, service, also do they pay rent for the property they are on? All the cash machines I have used are outside of banks, post offices. co ops, tesco etc. all free of charge. no I do not think its a tax on poverty.

I have to take a 15 minute bus ride to the nearest cash point that doesn’t charge! My village isn’t a small one, but only has one cash point which charges almost £2, which in my opinion is completely out of order. I have already been taxed before it comes to me, then I have to pay an extra £2 or spend more than that on a bus ride (bus fares going up being another annoyance of mine). Something must be done, but at least we have an amazing organisation like Which? on our side!

Moosh says:
17 February 2012

I will never pay to use an ATM, we don’t have free banking in this country, they get it out of us in other ways. Don’t forget if you are using a debit card you can do cash back at any shop that accepts cards so if need be I’ll use that rather than walk to a free ATM.

It costs the owner to install and keep the ATM filled and looked after. If this is not your own bank (it is only they who will make some money on your deposited cash) the owner will not make any money from you to recover these costs unless they make a transaction charge. Is this not reasonable?

I use the POST OFFICE network every counter position will give me my cash,even in £s+pence if needed direct out of most bank accounts + can even deposit cash+cheques when i need to and all for FREE I would never pay to get my own money never.