2005_11_22_washmu.jpgThe first, and very possibly best, advice we got when we returned to the Big City after our self-imposed exile to the Midwest was twofold: "Don't take taxicabs and don't pay ATM fees."

Not taking taxis wasn't such a hard trick to pull (we love our unlimited metrocard) but not paying ATM fees proved more difficult. Oftentimes when we need cash our bank is nowhere near where we are (damn you Citibank!). That's why we always loved Washington Mutual. They didn't judge us for not being their customers, they just wanted to help us spend our money. And best of all, they did so with all sorts of cute little colloquialisms that always made the tourists at the next ATM giggle (like saying "sure" instead of "yes").

But those days are over. Seems that somebody forgot to mention to us that after five years they had decided to abandon their free banking. So imagine our surprise when we found ourselves being asked if we'd accept a $2 fee ("Sure" or "No Thanks?"). It felt a bit like the time we found out that there was no Santa Claus. Of course it is a bit silly of us to get mad at a company who we don't patronize for taking away a free service, but still our reaction remains the same: bummer.

From all of this sad news, however, we did learn a few interesting facts like that Wash Mu's no-fee ATMs received 2 and 1/2 times more usage than the average ATM and that Americans pay nearly $4 billion in ATM fees each year, with an average fee of $1.40. All of which just reminds us that we now need to find ourselves some more cheap ATMs (or, y'know, start taking out more money at time from our own bank, or, uh, get a new bank). Off the top of our head, we can think of one set of $.99 ATMs (oh, McDonalds) and one free one (if you can get into the New York Times, check out their very free ATM on the eleventh floor) but other than that we're at a loss. Anybody know of any ATMs that want to give us money without skimming from the top?