When it comes to visiting New York City, there are many things that differ from other parts of the United States, and access to automated teller machines (ATMs) is one of them.
In addition to bank locations, there are thousands of ATMs in delis (called bodegas in NYC), pharmacies like Duane Reade and CVS, fast food restaurants, and many hotel lobbies all across the city. In fact, it's quite rare to walk more than two or three blocks without encountering an ATM in Manhattan (and much of the other boroughs).
However, if you're unfamiliar with using ATMs outside of your banking institution or home state, there are a few handy tips for using the ones you'll encounter on your trip to New York City. While you won't necessarily need cash at most restaurants and businesses, knowing how to draw out extra if you've spent all your at the Farmer's Market in Union Square or a cash-only restaurant will help ease your travels.
If you're planning to use your ATM card to withdraw cash on vacation, it's always a good idea to let your bank know that you're traveling. Oftentimes banks will suspend your account if they suspect suspicious activity, especially large cash withdrawals outside your home state.
Also be prepared to pay an ATM surcharge of anywhere from one to five dollars for the convenience of accessing your cash in addition to whatever your bank may charge for using an ATM outside its network. However, ATMs located in delis and fast food restaurants (especially local Chinese joints) typically charge a lower fee than those in bars, restaurants, hotels, and concert venues.
While rumor has it New York City's a dangerous place riddled with criminals and thieves, the city's really cleaned up its act since the 1990s, and you really don't have too much to worry about in day-to-day life. Still, you should be aware of your surroundings when using ATMs in New York City and always be aware of your purse or wallet when traveling.
When drawing out money from an ATM, it's generally a good idea, according to New York City police, to cover your hand when entering your secret pin number and put your cash away before leaving the machine. You should also use caution when using ATMs—keep a lookout for suspicious people and choose a different nearby ATM if you feel unsafe.
Other Useful Tips for Using ATMs
On top of drawing out money from ATMs, there are a few ways to avoid the convenience fee and bank surcharge in New York City. Some grocery stores and pharmacies, as well as the US Post Office, will let you get cash back with a purchase on your ATM card; however, many of these establishments have a limit of $50 to $100 for cash back.
Fortunately, you shouldn't really need to draw out cash from a deli ATM if your bank has a location in New York City—or even an ATM location, as many do. Popular banks like Bank of America, Chase, and Wells Fargo have bank locations and stand-alone ATMs everywhere in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Additionally, most restaurants, stores, and even some street vendors accept credit or debit card payments, so you won't likely need to use cash that often anyway.
If you're an international traveler visiting New York City, there are a few things to keep in mind when trying to access your funds. As long as your foreign issued credit card or bank card is compatible with the popular NICE or CIRRUS networks, you can easily withdrawal money using an ATM and your PIN code. Check with your bank or credit card company to find out what fees there are for foreign withdrawals. Banks frequently charge a currency exchange fee, in addition to a flat fee for making a withdrawal.