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    Rise of Debit Cards Brings ATM Decline

    Households using machines fell to 57 percent in 2003, from 65 percent in 2000.

    GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Atlanta-based Synergistics Research Corp. found that the number of U.S. households using ATMs fell to 57 percent in 2003, from 65 percent in 2000, due in part to the rise of debit cards, reported the Grand Rapids Press.

    "The debit phenomenon is eating ATMs' lunch," said company CEO William McCracken, who first presented the findings at a conference earlier this summer. "The idea of making a special trip to the ATM to withdraw cash is under assault."

    Debit cards are not entirely to blame for declining ATM use, however. Bank of America also has seen customers taking more cash out at a time, which would decrease the frequency of ATM use.

    Customers also have become less willing to use ATMs that do not belong to their banks to avoid fees, said David Gosnell, senior editor at ATM & Debit News in Chicago. Bankrate.com estimates that using an ATM not affiliated with his or her bank costs a customer about $2.70 per transaction.

    "The vast majority of non-bank ATMs out there -- convenience stores, taverns, you name it -- are not doing well," Gosnell said. "People are avoiding paying surcharges on those machines when at all possible."

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