Want to save money when you travel? Sure, you can look for cheap airfares, budget hotels and discount car rentals. But here's a simple change that can save you big bucks over the long haul: Stop paying ATM service fees.
After all, why should you pay a few dollars to withdraw money from a machine just because your bank doesn't have a branch nearby?
Fortunately, a handful of apps can help you locate ATMs that won't charge you fees.
I tried two on my iPhone, and both were free. So it costs you nothing to save some dough on the road or even in your hometown.
The first app I tried is from Allpoint. It's a network of about 37,000 ATM locations around the world. A few thousand are in the United Kingdom and the rest are in the U.S.
The ATMs are usually in drug stores, retail outlets and the like. The network charges you zero to withdraw money — though your own bank might charge you something for using an out-of-network ATM.
The app is easy to use. You can search from your current location or by address. It shows nearby Allpoint locations on a map or in list form with distance noted. I used it awhile back to find an ATM close to work. It turned out that machine was even closer than the bank I'd used occasionally at $3 a pop.
Allpoint's app works seamlessly with the iPhone's map function to give directions to whichever location you choose. The network also offers apps for BlackBerry and Android smart phones.
I also tried CO-OP Network's app. It bills itself as the largest credit union-only ATM network in the country. For those with credit union accounts, the app serves much the same function as Allpoint.
It has fewer locations than the first app. And it was a bit slower on my iPhone. There were fewer locations as well. The credit union app offers a link to the location's Web site and shows it on a map or in list form. But it didn't offer step-by-step directions like the Allpoint app.
But either one can save some serious money over time. Consider that a $3 surcharge to withdraw $20 is like paying a 15 percent fee to withdraw your money.