CHEYENNE — Wyoming’s $2 ATM fee limit may soon be scrapped, thanks to legislation headed to Gov. Matt Mead’s desk.
Wyoming is the only state in the nation that caps automated teller machine fees by law. But proponents of Senate File 82 said the cap is unfair to local ATM owners and that $2 per transaction often isn’t enough for many small businesses to pay for the costs of operating the machines — especially those in rural areas.
Opponents worry that lifting the cap will lead ATM owners to fleece consumers with outrageous fees.
The legislation passed the Wyoming Legislature with overwhelming support; only five senators and seven representatives voted against the measure. Gov. Matt Mead hasn’t decided yet whether to sign the bill into law, said gubernatorial spokesman Renny MacKay.
State Sen. Bruce Burns, the Sheridan Republican who introduced the bill, said the ATM cap is unfair to state banks and local ATM owners because nationally chartered banks have been exempt from the ATM fee limit under federal law.
However, almost all of those banks have voluntarily set their ATM fee at $2 out of respect for the state law, said acting Wyoming Banking Commissioner Albert Forkner. The lone exception has been Hulett-based Summit National Bank, Forkner said.
Burns also said many mom-and-pop businesses in Wyoming operate ATMs at a loss, as the $2 fee doesn’t cover the costs of stocking and maintaining the machine.
One of those business owners is Patricia Jackson, who owns ATMs at two of her laundromats in Casper.
“By the time I pay for my phone line, and the machines, and the paper, and the fees the credit card companies charge me, I break even, maybe,” Jackson said.
Burns said it should be left to the free market, not government, to decide what ATM fees should be.
Burns said while fees will likely go up in many places — particularly resort areas — he doesn’t expect ATM owners to start gouging their customers.
But state Rep. Jim Byrd, D-Cheyenne, questioned whether ATM owners would be reined in by the market. ATM owners already make huge profits from the machines, he said, and lifting the cap would open the door to even more profits — especially, he said, in small towns.
where there might not be any other ATM for miles around.
“If you’re in some Podunk place in Wyoming, and your car breaks down, you don’t have any other options,” Byrd said. “The free market needs fences.”
And some ATM operators see no reason to increase their fees — including Linda Caylor, owner of Topper’s Bar in Moorcroft.
“I think that’d be kind of pricey,” Caylor said. “I don’t think the consumers need that right now, do you?”