HIGHTOWER: Cash Cows for Bankers

You've got your milk cows (moo), your sacred cows (moo-mooooo) ... and then you've got your cash cows (ca-ching!).The cash cows that keep on delivering for today's banking world are those beeping, glowing, computerized critters called ATMs. Typically, a big bank will charge its own customers $2.50 to withdraw money from their account through these machines. In addition, though, the bank owning the ATM will hit you with a surcharge of another buck-fifty for simply using the machine. So you're out $4 to withdraw maybe $20 -- a 20 percent hit to have access to your own money!This is why there's a national rebellion against this electronic gouging, including a recent voter initiative in San Francisco to outlaw the outrageous surcharges. Despite a media blitz by the banks, the initiative passed by almost a two-to-one margin. Immediately after the voters spoke, however, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, the area's largest banks, filed suit to overturn the democratic process, claiming that local people should have no say over the fees charged by nationally-chartered banks.In their court filings, however, the two giant banks revealed what a ripoff these surcharges really are. Bank of America is hauling off some $250,000 a month just for the surcharges in San Francisco, and Wells Fargo is taking $210,000 a month. In the pleadings, the bankers whine that they could not possibly keep the ATMs on the streets without charging this $1.50 add-on per transaction. But Newsweek magazine reports that the actual cost to the banks for handling an ATM transaction is about a quarter. In other words, the banks are making a 500-percent profit every time you pay their surcharge to draw money from your own bank account.This is Jim Hightower saying ... ATMs are supposed to be convenient cash machines for bank customers ... not cash cows for bankers.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close