Tired of ATM fees? New bank pays you


Don't bet on this idea catching on: Instead of charging people for using automated teller machines, First Mariner Bank says it will pay its customers.

This new, small Baltimore bank announced yesterday that it will give customers a quarter each time they use an ATM, either at the bank or another location.

What's more, the bank says it will pay people $3 to open an account -- a variation on traditional bank giveaways, which have included toasters and TVs for larger deposits.

First Mariner, which opened in May, is trying to lure customers by playing to public resentment of bank fees. Not long ago a Chicago bank announced it would charge customers who use a human teller.

"We think that being user-friendly, by encouraging people to come into the branches, we can build a loyal cadre of customers," said Edwin F. Hale Sr., the former Baltimore Bancorp head who founded First Mariner.

The bank is trying to carve a niche as a locally owned alternative to the national banking companies that have gobbled up much of the Maryland industry. So far, so good, said Mr. Hale. The bank's assets have grown from $27 million to $38 million since its opening, he said.

The offers announced yesterday expire in a year. The ATM offer is limited to four uses per month, or $1 total.

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