Australian banks agree to scrap controversial "foreign ATM" withdrawal fees


CANBERRA, Sept. 24 -- One of the greatest bugbears shared by millions of Australians will be no more from October, after Australia's "big four banks" agreed to scrap controversial "foreign ATM" withdrawal fees.

Usually forced to search far and wide for an ATM from their own bank to avoid an additional fee, Australian customers will soon be able to withdraw their own cash from any of the big four banks' ATMs - fee free.

On Sunday, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac agreed that "foreign ATM" fees - often totalling 2 Australian dollars (1.60 U.S. dollars) or more - were a sore point for millions of customers, and will axe them from next month.

The Commonwealth Bank was the first to announce the change, with representative Matt Comyn declaring that customers would be put first.

"We have been listening to consumer groups and our customers and understand that there's a need to make changes that benefit all Australians, this is one of the steps we're taking to make that happen," Comyn said in a statement on Sunday.

"As Australia's largest bank, with one of the largest branch and ATM networks, we think this change will benefit many Australians and hopefully demonstrate our willingness to listen and act on customer feedback."

Westpac spokesperson George Frazis said the move would particularly benefit rural Australians, whose nearest ATM from their own bank might be more than 100 km away.

"This will make it more convenient for millions of Australians to conveniently obtain cash, with no additional fees. It will particularly assist Australians in rural and regional areas," he said.

It's estimated that big banks made more than 500 million Australian dollars (395 million U.S. dollars) from "foreign ATM" fees last year. (Xinhua)