Cash machine network Link has announced a new ‘super premium’ for rural ATMs that will increase payments to operators by up to £2.75 per cash withdrawal.

The premium, which will take effect on 1 April, will be made available to around 3,500 free-to-use ATMs that are currently 1km or more away from the nearest free-to use ATM, or form part of Link’s Financial Inclusion Programme.

Approximately 1,000 ATMs will initially be eligible for the enhanced payments, with this number likely to increase, with super premiums also available to operators who convert pay-to-use ATMs to free-to-use that resolve areas in the financial inclusion programme.

Link chief executive, John Howells, said: “We are delighted to announce this increase in financial support for ATMs in remote and deprived areas that provide a vital service to communities.

“While many consumers are turning to alternative payment methods such as contactless cards, it is vital we continue to provide free access to cash to those who need it. These premiums will further safeguard ATMs in remote and less well-off areas.”

Link cash withdrawals account for around three-quarters of all cash withdrawals, with the remainder made up of withdrawals where cardholders use their own bank or building society’s cash machines to access their cash.

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive, James Lowman, welcomed the announcement, but called for a long-term strategy to secure a strong ATM network.

“Rural convenience stores are becoming ever more important as providers of ATMs with other businesses, especially banks, abandoning these areas across the UK. Access to a cash machine at a rural convenience store is cited by local customers as one of the most valuable services offered at that store, so it’s essential that Link support the rural network of ATMs,” he said.

“While we welcome Link’s decision to introduce a ‘super premium’ for the remaining ATMs in rural areas, this is also evidence of their interchange fee cuts over the last year having had a disastrous impact on rural communities. It is wrong that Link continues to wield such power over what is an essential service to millions of people. We need a long term strategy backed by proper funding to secure a strong ATM network.”