Automatic teller machines have gone from a novelty when they were first introduced in 1967 to becoming commonplace in today’s world. As of 2017, banks across the globe operated an estimated 3 million ATMs, according to the ATM Industry Association.
But while ATMs remain popular for withdrawals, people might forget that many of these machines also accept deposits. For those that do allow deposits, the transactions can usually be completed in a few minutes or less. Read below to find out how to navigate ATMs, whether you’re depositing cash or a check.
How To Deposit Cash in an ATM
If you’re accustomed to making bank deposits inside physical branches but none are open, your only option for a cash deposit is an ATM. For cash deposits, different ATMs have different ways of accepting cash, but the process usually involves putting the money directly into a designated slot.
Many ATMs are available anytime during the day, night, weekends and even on holidays. The actual steps might vary based on the specific machine. However, you’ll typically follow instructions like this if you’re depositing cash or a check at your bank’s ATM:
- Insert your debit card and PIN.
- Select “Deposit.”
- Enter the amount you want to deposit, and insert the cash or signed check.
- Confirm the dollar amount of the deposit.
- After the ATM has received the money, it will ask if you’d like a receipt.
- Take your receipt and card.
As long as cash deposits at the ATM are made before the ATM cutoff time, the money should be available immediately, even though industry regulations might not require availability until the next business day. Check with your bank to find out how soon you can access the funds.
One thing you should be aware of is that the Bank Secrecy Act requires paperwork for cash deposits that exceed $10,000. So while maximum deposit amounts might vary by bank, ATMs cannot legally accept more than that amount in cash.
Can You Deposit Cash at Any ATM?
If you go on vacation and your bank is not available in the area, you still might be able to deposit your cash at any ATM. That’s especially true if you use a bank that operates all over the country. If your bank doesn’t have a relationship with the owners of the ATM you would like to use, however, you might not be able to make a deposit. Even if you can deposit money in another bank’s ATM, you could face both fees and longer wait times for the deposit to post to your account.
One tip is to look for banks with a shared deposit program in which both the bank and ATM owner participate. For example, NYCE of Secaucus, New Jersey, allows shared deposits in certain cases. ATM companies such as MoneyPass address this need by offering surcharge-free ATMs — including deposit services — at more than 32,000 locations nationwide.
How To Deposit a Check at an ATM
Depositing checks at your bank’s ATM can be done quickly and easily, and your check will clear in no time. The steps might vary between different ATMs of the same bank, so be sure to follow the machine’s specific instructions. Assuming the ATM requires a card, the instructions will likely follow these steps:
- Sign your check on the back for deposit only.
- Insert your card and enter your PIN.
- Choose the “deposit” option.
- Select the account (typically checking or savings).
- Type in the deposit amount (if the machine cannot already read that).
- Confirm the deposit amount.
- Make your receipt selection.
- Take your receipt and card before leaving the ATM.
How Do You Make a Deposit to an Online Bank Account?
ATM deposits can get tricky for those who want to deposit to an online bank. However, some online banks make agreements that let you use ATMs in specific networks. Capital One 360 is an example of an online bank that accepts these deposits. Check with your online bank for its ATM deposit options.
Card-Free ATM Access
Some banks have turned to ATMs that don’t require a card to make transactions. Wells Fargo added this feature in 2017 and Chase followed suit. In both cases, the feature can only be used with the bank’s corresponding app and is only available to customers of a specific bank.
Near-field communication (NFC) technology has played an important role in card-free ATM transactions. Smartphones equipped with NFC can sign on to bank accounts as well as various mobile wallet apps, including Apple Pay and Google Pay.
NCR, which provides multivendor ATM software, introduced a new system for withdrawals called the Mobile Cash Withdrawal function. This creates a 2D barcode within a bank’s app. Customers can go to the ATM, scan the barcode and then perform the transaction per the machine’s instructions. For this feature, no card, PIN or NFC technology is necessary.
Not all ATMs are created equal when it comes to fees associated with depositing cash or checks. When you use your own bank’s ATM, there’s usually no fee. But when you use a non-network machine, you might be charged a fee. You might also be charged a fee when you use an ATM operated by another bank. In these cases, both the bank and the ATM operator could charge separate fees.
Using an ATM to deposit cash or checks into your account can save time and is also more convenient than visiting a physical branch. Many ATMs are available 24/7. Just make sure you know the rules of your bank when it comes to using an ATM.
The Future of ATM Deposits
The future of ATM deposits is a little uncertain in an increasingly cashless society. According to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as of 2017 only 15.9% of U.S. households used cash to pay bills. That percentage falls to 9.8% among “fully banked” households, which are the 68.4% of U.S. households that have bank accounts and don’t use alternative financial services. Meanwhile, more consumers are making noncash deposits through smartphones rather than ATMs.
This doesn’t mean everyone has turned against cash. Some prefer the “pain” of using cash as a way to limit their spending because it’s usually harder to part with real money than it is to swipe a debit card or make an online purchase. Other consumers simply mistrust the banking system — particularly after the financial crisis of 2007-08. Meanwhile, some parts of the world lack the infrastructure necessary to go cashless.
The continuing appeal of cash among many consumers should help ensure that you have no trouble finding ATMs nearby and making ATM deposits, at least for the foreseeable future. While cards and PINs might disappear eventually, ATM machines should be around for a while.