<p>NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. – A recent Bankrate.com study finds that although debit cards are on the rise with 94% of financial institutions offering them, consumers are still paying more for convenience. The Fall 2001 Checking Account Pricing Study finds that the average ATM surcharge has reached an all-time high of $1.45 per transaction. With financial institutions charging $1.50, up from the $1 or $1.25 the study also finds that 89% of institutions surcharge, up from the only 77% that charged two years ago. It is estimated that this year alone American ATM users will pay about $2.2 billion in surcharges. While the hot topic remains to be surcharges, the study also looks at fees paid by consumers using non-bank ATMs, which now averages $1.36. Point-of-sale transactions seem to be the most popular way for consumers to avoid surcharges with only 9% of institutions charging for POS, which is down from the 10% of the past two years. Generally, these fees total $12 annually with most institutions nicking $1 off the average consumer’s balance each month.</p>

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