Free cash machines could soon be a thing of the past, as more and more fee-charging ATMs pop up around the country.
Nationwide building society has warned that cash machine charges are now costing consumers more than £60 million a year.
Just five years ago virtually all cash machines were free. More than one in every three machines now charge.
During the past six months alone the number of ATMs that charge has risen by 40 per cent from around 13,000 to 18,500, Nationwide reports.
Consequently, it predicts that by the end of 2006, there could be more fee-charging automatic tills than free ones.
Nationwide's executive director, Stuart Bernau, said: "This is a serious issue for consumers particularly as machines that were free are being replaced with ones that charge, so it is very easy for people to be caught out and face an unexpected fee."
Costs vary between £1.25 and £1.75 per transaction, with these types of fee-charging machines having become increasingly popular in newsagents, petrol stations and pubs around the UK.
Last April, Link, the organisation that runs the cash machine network, ruled that fee-charging machines should display a warning sticker announcing that a fee will be imposed on customers.
© DeHavilland Information Services plc