How to Use an ATM
ATMs, or Automated Teller Machines, provide a simple, convenient way to access your bank account from just about anywhere. Though ATMs may seem confusing at first, they’re actually incredibly straightforward and easy to operate.
Part 1Starting the Process
1People using ATMs will occasionally be targets of robberies and other crimes, so you'll want to be sure to be safe. First, make sure that the area is well lit and you are alone. Be on your guard if other people show up. Stand so that your screen and key presses are masked. You'll also want to look at the machine itself. Devices called card skimmers are becoming more common and, while there is no universal signal that an ATM is compromised, if something seems off about how the card slot looks then you'll just want to find another machine to use. Only use ATMs during the day in well trafficked areas, if possible.
2Mobile banking cards come in two varieties — debit cards and credit cards. Debit cards are most frequently used in ATMs; they're linked to the exact amount you have in your bank account. Credit cards can be used in some cases, but fees and interest rates usually make them expensive to use. Insert your card into the card slot, facing in the direction indicated by the image on the machine. Particular machines may have a special fee (usually when in a tourist area) which should be labeled on the machine. If you travel out of the country, there may be additional fees associated with the distance or currency change.
3For example, if you own a Chase debit card, look for a Chase ATM or local branch. Although you can use almost any debit card on almost any ATM, you will likely be charged an additional fee for withdrawing money if the ATM is for a bank other than one you have an account with. Additionally, some of the services offered by the ATM may not be available if your card and ATM don't match. In addition, when the branch is closed, you will still be able to access the ATM by swiping your bank's card on the card reader, giving you added security.
4Most ATMs will offer transactions in several different languages, usually at least three or more dependent on where you live. Where in the process you change the language can depend on the machine, but it is usually directly after inserting your card.
5"PIN" stands for "personal identification number," and it's typically a four- to six-digit password people use to access their bank account. Enter your PIN number when asked to by the machine, making sure to shield the pad with your hand so that nearby onlookers can't see it. You should also watch out for cameras that are placed on the ATM itself, as these can be placed by criminals in order to steal your card information. While PINs are typically four or six digits long, note that this length may vary depending on the financial institution associated with your ATM card.
Part 2Completing Transactions
1You can withdraw money for almost any ATM, regardless of the associated bank (though this may incur fees). You will usually have two withdrawal options: Fast cash - which allows you to quickly withdraw a set amount as labeled on the machine. This is usually either $40, $50, or $60. Targeted withdrawal - which allows you to specify how much you want to withdraw by typing in the amount. Be careful of your limits. Most ATMs and banks limit how much you can withdraw from an ATM in a given day. The limit varies widely based on your bank and your account type, but limits between $300-$1000 are common.
2You can deposit money as well, as long as you are using an ATM associated with your bank. You should be presented with the choice of what account you want the money deposited in to. The funds may not be immediately available, or only some of them may be immediately available. There are two ways that you can deposit money: Deposit cash. This is usually fed into the machine, though sometimes a deposit envelope may be required. If you are using a modern ATM, you should be able to insert a stack of bills, often between 30-50 bills at a time, and the machine will count them up automatically. Deposit checks. Older machines may require that you use a deposit slip in order to deposit a check, but for most modern machines you can simply feed the check into the ATM. The ATM will provide you with specific instructions, and a deposit envelope if you don't have one. If you do need to fill out a deposit envelope, it's better to get the envelope from the machine and then exit out of the transaction, filling out the details and inserting the check into the envelop in your car or other safe location. Simply return to the machine, reinsert your card, and start the process over again once the envelope is prepared.
3You should have the option to check your account balance, or how much money you have available in your account, so long as you are using an ATM associated with your bank. This balance is often printed out on a receipt or sheet of paper, although it may be displayed on the screen as well.
4Many bank's ATMs will allow you to transfer money between multiple accounts you hold with the same bank, or even transfer money to other people's accounts. Occasionally you may also have the option to make payments, such as paying pre-set up bills or fees on your bank account itself.
Part 3Ending Your Session
1Once you've completed your transaction, you'll have to follow the on-screen prompts in order to exit out and get your card back. Often times, a short cut can be to simply press the red X on the keypad, which is similar to the "back" option on a computer.
2It's easy to forget to take your money or card when you're in a hurry, but be careful and be extra sure to take all of your belongings when you're done. This includes a cell phone you might have set down on the machine!
3Be aware that for everything but withdrawing money, you can now use mobile banking if you bank with one of the major banks. Mobile banking, which uses your smart phone, allows you to deposit checks, check your balance, transfer money, and includes many of the other services of the ATM.