If you have had the feeling that ATM fees are creeping upward, please be assured it is not your imagination. A national survey just released revealed that the cost of using another bank’s ATM machine has nearly tripled over the past five years. In 1996 consumers paid only a single foreign ATM fee to their own bank, averaging $1.01, to use another bank’s ATM. The new study shows consumers pay both a foreign fee plus a surcharge that, combined, average $2.86 in 2001. The new U.S. Public Interest Research Group survey says the nation’s biggest banks charge the highest combined ATM transaction fees and are leading the way in charging a new annual ATM card fee. Nationally, 94% of all banks surveyed imposed surcharges averaging $1.47. Average foreign fees were $1.39. Big bank ATM fees averaged $3.07. Nationally, 97% of big banks charged surcharges averaging $1.55. Big bank foreign fees averaged $1.52. Ohio banks charged the highest combined fees of $3.49. The report also found that 18% of all banks imposed annual card rental fees averaging $13.76 on either ATM card or ATM debit card holders or both. The U.S. PIRG used the report to attack the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. PRIG says the OCC has a long history of preempting state low-cost lifeline banking laws and ATM surcharge bans, even when Congress tells it not to do so.