MasterCard International will lift its ban on automated teller machine surcharges, effective April 1.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based card association, which operates the Cirrus System Inc. international ATM network, said it made its move in response to steps taken by the majority of other shared ATM networks in the country.

Visa International's Plus network, the only national competitor to Cirrus, announced plans to allow surcharging just three months ago.

"In order to ensure that ATM owners that favor surcharging remain in our network, we had to comply with this industry's direction," said G. Henry Mundt 3d, president and chief executive officer of Cirrus.

Under the new surcharging policy, owners of ATMs in the Cirrus network will be free to charge cardholders a transaction fee, over and above any bank-to-bank interchange costs.

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