Find no-fee credit union ATMs

By Doresa Banning

You desperately need some cash to buy a major find at an antique store, but you're visiting relatives in Salmon, Idaho, and your credit union is back in New York City. Do you have any choice but to pay $2 or more to withdraw money from an ATM at a financial institution other than your own?

Yes, you do, if your credit union is a member of the CO-OP Network, the largest credit-union-only ATM network in the United States, according to the corporation's website. About 3,000 credit unions in the U.S. and Canada are part of the CO-OP (the U.S. is home to about 8,000 credit unions), and the network continues to grow. If you're unsure whether your credit union is in the network, call and ask or check your credit union's website.

CO-OP Network benefits

This system delivers convenience and savings. Here's how:

Within the CO-OP are more than 28,000 ATMs in the U.S., Canada and these other countries:

  • Bahrain
  • Djibouti
  • Greece
  • Guam
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Puerto Rico
  • Spain

You'll find these CO-OP Network ATMs in retail locations like supermarkets, drugstores, airports and shopping malls. More than 5,500 of them are located inside 7-Eleven stores in 30 states.

And all of the ATMs in the network are free to use. This is a big plus because surcharges can add up quickly when you're away from home and having to use out-of-network ATMs. With the money you'd save from one or two withdrawals, you could buy a triple espresso or, better yet, add it to your savings account.

All CO-OP ATMs allow you to withdraw money, and 9,000 of them throughout the U.S. and Canada can accept deposits. However, the network also encompasses more than 4,000 shared branches. This means that you can conduct transactions involving your checking account and savings account like you would at your hometown credit union, including deposits, withdrawals, loan payments and account balance inquiries.

How to locate free, nearby ATMs

You can find a CO-OP Network ATM in any of these ways:

  • Phone locator: Call the toll-free number, 888-SITE-CO-OP (748-3266).
  • Online locator: Visit the CO-OP Network website, go to the ATM Locator page and search using your city and state or street address and ZIP code. You'll see a downloadable and printable list of ATMs in the area, complete with addresses, distance, whether or not they accept deposits, driving directions, links to each credit union's website and a map. For ATMs outside the U.S. and Canada, click on the specific country for a list of locations.
  • Text messaging: Simply text the address, intersection or ZIP code of your location to 692667 (MYCOOP). You'll receive a text response with the location of the CO-OP ATM closest to you. While this CO-OP text service is free, your cellphone provider may charge you for texting. According to the CO-OP Network, it won't send you unsolicited text messages after using the service.
  • iPhone app: In the App Store on iTunes, search for "CO-OP ATM" and download the application for free. Find the ATM nearest you or locate all the ATMs around a specific address, city, state or ZIP code.
  • GPS: Through the link on the CO-OP Network site's ATM Locator page, go to the required site for downloading the GPS file. Once there, click on the Download button and select your GPS device from the several options that include Garmin, Tom Tom, Magellan and Navigon. Download the database of surcharge-free ATMs directly to your device, then search as needed.

Oftentimes, credit unions are criticized for their limited number of branches and ATMs, but the CO-OP Network creates much broader access.