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Free ATMs vanishing – but there's a handy tool to find your nearest

Free cash machines are disappearing, with 1,250 becoming fee-paying in March alone. But there's a handy tool to find nearby machines that let you withdraw cash for free, if you're out and about or don't know where your nearest free one is. 

Link, which runs the UK's largest ATM network, says its free ATM-finder tool covers just over 64,000 cash machines, which it says is "virtually every cash machine in the UK" and includes all the major banks. Of these, about 51,300 are free to use.

How does the free ATM-finder tool work?

Link's ATM-finder tool is available both online and as an app, which is free to download on iOS and Android devices. Here's how to use it:

  1. To find your nearest ATMs, simply search for a postcode or location, or use your current location on the app (to do this you may need to enable location permissions in your settings).

  2. Check which are the free ATMs. You'll be shown an interactive map marking the nearest cashpoints, with green dots for free ATMs and purple dots highlighting those which charge a fee. If you click on a purple dot, you'll be told how much the machine charges.

    You'll also be given a list of the cashpoints. You can click on an individual cashpoint, either on the list or map, to get extra info about its functionality – for example, if it dispenses £5 notes or lets you manage your PIN.

If you're using the app, you can also get directions to your chosen cashpoint. But it's worth noting that the app may record your location even when you're not using it, which can drain battery life.

Use app filters to only show certain types of ATMs

If you're using the app, you can also set filters so you only see ATMs with particular features – for example, machines which allow mobile top-up or are run by a certain operator. You can also choose a filter to only show ATMs which are free to use.

Just click on the hamburger menu icon to the left of the map's search bar, and select which filters you want to apply.

The filters can also be helpful if you have a disability which makes using some ATMs difficult, letting you find machines which are wheelchair-accessible or offer audio assistance.

You can also save your favourite ATMs on the map.

You can also withdraw for free at post office counters

If you're struggling to find a free ATM near you, it's worth remembering you can also withdraw cash from your bank account for free over the counter at your nearest post office. (Post offices also offer some other essential banking services, such as paying in cash and cheques – see our Little-known ways to bank at the post office blog.)

If a post office has an ATM, it'll already be included in Link's tool – but Link says it's planning to add post offices which dispense cash over-the-counter to its tool in the coming months.

1,250 ATMs became fee-paying in March alone

Almost 1,700 free ATMs started charging for cash withdrawals between January and March this year, with 1,250 becoming fee-paying in March alone. That's based on research by consumer group Which?, using data from Link.

According to Which?, most of the ATMs which have begun charging are operated by cashpoint firm Cardtronics – and Cardtronics has warned it may introduce charges for another 1,000 cash machines over the coming months.

The data has sparked concerns about people's access to cash, with bank branches and free ATMs disappearing. Which? has called for a regulator to be created to make sure no one is cut off from cash, and the Government has pledged to introduce a 'joint authorities cash strategy group'.

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