You’ll Never Guess How Much Banks Are Losing on Those Airport ATMs…!

It turns out that ATMs have been disappearing from airports because people use cash less than they used to, so they don’t generate enough fees to cover the extortionate demands of airports to allow them on premises. US Bank has lost millions on their Minneapolis-St. Paul ATMs.

The bank pays the airport a $636,000 annual minimum plus half of the $3 fee that non-customers pay at U.S. Bank’s ATMs. Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank paid the airport $836,000 last year and kept about $200,000 in transaction fees

So $400,000 in revenue and $836,000 in expense plus the cost of operating 17 machines (maintenance, supplying them regularly with cash..).

US Bank lost more than $2.5 million over the past five years on the deal, and expects their annual loss to grow which is why they’re unwilling to continue to offer ATMs under current terms.

After no other bank was willing to take their place in the airport at a 15% lower cost, the airport finally agreed to try to work out a new deal with US Bank.

Yesterday I referenced how expensive and difficult it is for vendors to work with airports. (And that doesn’t even get into all the constraints that make airport restaurants so bad.)

In my discussion of the economics of the Miami American Express Centurion lounge I posted a standard lease fee table for the Miami airport. Note this is in addition to nose bleed level rents.

US bank attracts and retains customers by being where they are. But they aren’t willing to operate at the economics which had been offered by the airport. The same story for less frequently used services repeats itself at airports across the country. An airport can’t charge a premium for something that doesn’t come with the margins to support it.

If you’ve ever wondered why:

  • Concessions charge as much as they do at airports, it isn’t just that they believe they have a captive audience. Airports costs are higher than street costs.

  • Airports that have ‘street pricing’ requirements feature products and services where margins on street pricing are high, it’s because those are the products that are sustainable at the costs charged by the airport.

While it can be profitable to be in the middle of a very high traffic area, and airports are serving up captive audiences (that’s the pitch for why businesses should pay such high costs including a percentage of revenue), it’s very much the airport that tends to make out well here. Of course their costs tend to be quite high as a major capital project pulled in many directions by political leadership.

(HT: Joe Brancatelli’s excellent weekly newsletter)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. But statistics show 75.2% of my readership is more engaged by my delightful use of prose in the title!

  2. That’s supposedly a “clickbait title”? What a bunch of whiners. You don’t like them? STOP CLICKING ON THEM!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *