Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday surprise. Senior citizens are better at using ATMs

The RBA says so

Older Australians are far from helpless when it comes to using banks. If anything it's the young who get fleeced.

New research conducted by Roy Morgan for the Reserve Bank finds that instead of being disadvantaged by the introduction of fees at automatic teller machines as expected, older Australians are better than anyone else at shopping around.

A Reserve Bank report released yesterday says it was expected that when it forced ATM providers to charge users from other banks directly rather than to charge their banks, older Australians would be "less willing or able to travel to seek out an ATM provided by their own institution and therefore more likely to pay a fee".

Instead it found older Australians were the canniest of all when it came to avoiding
ATM fees, with those aged over 60 paying them just 8 per cent of the time. By contrast busier Australians in their thirties and forties paid fees 26 per cent of the time, and younger Australians 29 per cent of the time...

"This is likely to reflect a variety of factors, such as different preferences regarding the use of their time and the locations of cash withdrawals," the report says in a tactful suggestion that young people are too busy and blinded by convenience to care.

Those who do care often change their mind when confronted with a request for a fee at the machine. Around 10 per cent of those surveyed said they had began making a cash withdrawal in the past month but had cancelled it when the machine told them there would be a fee.

Most fees remain at $2 with only 17 per cent of withdrawals charged at a higher rate, almost all less than than $2.50.

The Reserve Bank says the fees are high enough to make ATMs profitable, noting the number of machines has climbed 10 per cent since fees came in.

Australians in regional areas find it harder to avoid paying them than those in cities, typically paying fees 29 per cent of the time, compared to 20 per cent in the city because of less easy access to fee-free ATMs.

Surprisingly Australians in really remote areas pay very little in ATM fees in aggregate, avoiding them and using cash-outs at EFTPOS machines.

The Australian Financial Counselling and Credit Reform Association reported late last year that
one machine in remote South Australia charged $10 per withdrawal. Another, in the Torres Strait limited withdrawals to $100 at a time at a cost of $5 each.

Treasurer Wayne Swan set up a task force to report by February 28 on the provision, fees and impact of ATMs in remote Australia.

Published in today's SMH

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