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How to Use an ATM: Step-By-Step Guide


You can use an ATM with a debit card — or, sometimes, a credit card. While the process is straightforward, it helps to know how to use an ATM ahead of time. Follow these steps to check your balance, withdraw money or make a deposit.

For help with figuring out how you want to store your own money, consider working with a financial advisor.

How to Withdraw Money

To make a withdrawal, follow these steps:

  1. Insert your debit or credit card
  2. Enter your personal identification number (PIN)
  3. Select withdrawal
  4. Choose the account type, such as checking, savings, etc.
  5. Choose how much you want to withdraw, such as $100, $50 or other
  6. Agree to pay a fee, if applicable
  7. Remove your debit or credit card from the machine
  8. Take your cash

While it is possible to use a credit card to make a withdrawal (called a cash advance), be wary of the fees you might encounter. For example, a typical cash advance fee is 5% of the amount requested, according to Chase. In addition, credit cards have cash advance APRs that are higher than purchase APRs.

In some cases, there might be limits to how much you can withdraw in a day, such as up to $1,000. If you intend to withdraw a large amount of money, check with your bank to see if there is a daily withdrawal limit. If you will exceed the limit, see if your bank is willing to increase it for you.

How to Deposit Money

how to use an atm

Depositing cash at an ATM follows similar steps with some slight differences:

  1. Insert your debit card
  2. Enter your PIN
  3. Select deposit and the relevant account
  4. Enter how much you are depositing
  5. Choose cash, checks or cash and checks
  6. Put your money into the machine
  7. Confirm the amount
  8. Remove your debit card

In this case, you can only use a debit card, not a credit card. In addition, you generally must deposit cash only at an ATM owned by your bank. Cash that you deposit will be available immediately, but checks can take some time to deposit.

How to Check Your Balance and Transfer Funds

Checking your balance is a routine step at any ATM. Generally, you will see this as a type of transaction alongside deposit, withdrawal, etc. You might also see your balance printed on your receipt after your transaction if you indicate that you want a receipt.

You can also transfer funds between accounts at an ATM. Simply select the button for a transfer, pick the accounts to transfer money from and to and enter the amount of money you want transferred.

The Deal With ATM Fees

ATMs can have several types of fees; it’s important to be aware of the possible fees ahead of time. After all, they can make up a significant portion of your transaction. Here are some of the most common types.

  • Out-of-network fees: If you use an ATM that isn’t owned by your bank or in their network, you will likely have to pay a fee of $2 to $3.
  • Convenience fee: Some privately owned ATMs might charge a convenience fee for using their services. This is an extra fee on top of any out-of-network fees.
  • Account fees: There might be a small fee assessed by your financial institution, such as if you make too many transactions in one day.
  • Currency exchange: If a currency exchange is necessary, there can be a fee of 2% to 3% of the transaction. This is common when making withdrawals overseas.

Where (And How) to Find an ATM

how to use an atm

It’s always good to know where and how to find an ATM. Not only will it make your life easier, but it will also help you avoid out-of-network fees. Fortunately, finding an ATM is not too difficult in most cases. Most banks have an ATM locator on their website, for example. Or if you have the bank’s mobile app, it might have an ATM locator that uses location services on your phone to find an ATM nearby.

Bottom Line

Automated teller machines (ATMs) are an incredibly convenient way to do most of your basic banking tasks. For example, you can easily deposit money, withdraw money or check your balance. If you do so at an ATM in your financial institution’s network, fees should be minimal. However, be aware of certain fees you might encounter, such as cash advance fees or out-of-network fees. There are usually fees when a currency exchange is necessary, too.

Tips for Opening a Bank Account

  • If you plan to open a bank account, be sure to check SmartAsset’s checking & savings guide. Some checking accounts are better than others; for example, some have monthly fees and minimum account balances. Be sure to research the best options before opening a new checking account.
  • A financial advisor can help you work through your banking needs and create a plan that works in your unique situation. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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