Which is the better cash dispenser? ATMs or grocery tills functioning as bank tellers

Maryanne Maina

Maryanne Maina

Most of us know it is possible to skip the queue at ATMs thanks to the checkout operators at a growing number of grocery chains that are now doubling up as bank tellers.

But is it more expensive to draw money at a till than an at an ATM? The accompanying table shows that tills generally offer a better deal.

South African banks recently dropped Saswitch fees - an additional charge that consumers pay for using another bank's ATM - to about R5. Though this is an improvement on the R6 to R7 charged in the past, tills still offer a far better deal.

It is often even cheaper to draw money at a grocery chain's till than at your own bank's ATM.

Capitec, which with 300 ATMs has the smallest investment in teller machines to protect, is the most aggressive bank when it comes to encouraging its account holders to use retail point-of-sale terminals.

Capitec offers lower banking fees at Pick 'n Pay checkouts than the fees charged for using grocery chain's own Go Banking cards. Capitec has negotiated the use of its banking cards at a wide range of retail chains whereas Go Banking is limited to stores within the Pick 'n Pay group.

Credit cards have an advantage over debit cards in that the merchant pays the bank's transaction fee. Here again Capitec is offering a competitive deal by allowing its debit card holders to make transactions for free at a range of retailers.

ATMs have the advantage of operating 24 hours a day, and most of us trust machines to count money more reliably than a human being. But given the long hours that most grocery stores keep nowadays, and the safer environment that their shops offer, the till might yet make the ATM a relic of a past era.