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Deposits at ATMs - Risks

What can go Wrong when Using ATMs for Deposits

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Hundred dollar bills emerging from ATM
Derek E. Rothchild/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Deposits at ATMs can be convenient. However, you may run into trouble or have doubts about deposit ATMs. Are they safe? Do they have special rules? Learn about a few pitfalls of deposit ATMs so you can avoid unpleasant surprises.

Are ATMs Safe for Deposits?

For the most part, yes. Your deposits should show up without error. However, you should consider the consequences. If you’re making a large deposit or if you’re in danger of bouncing checks, you should avoid deposit ATMs. From time to time there will be errors, but most of them will be resolved easily by your bank.

You can find horror stories of deposits at ATMs that went horribly: money vanishes, there’s no record of the deposit, and so on. If your deposit is a big deal, go inside and work with a teller.

You should also observe the basics of ATM security:

Your Bank’s Deposit ATM

You’ll generally only be able to make deposits at ATMs owned by your bank. It’s possible that your bank belongs to a ‘network’ and you can use any ATM in the network, but it’s best to just use your bank’s ATM.

If you use a deposit ATM from another bank (within the network) your funds may not show up in your account as quickly.

Funds Available After Deposits at ATMs

Your bank has policies that spell out when funds are available. For deposit ATMs, the rules might be a little different so call your bank for details. You can generally expect to have $100 or so available from a check deposit quickly, with the rest available in several business days.

Alternative to the ATM

If your bank allows it, you might be able to deposit checks using a mobile device or home computer and scanner. This approach would help you avoid most of the pitfalls above, and you don't even have to leave the house. It might even be worth opening and account at an online bank that offers the service just to enjoy the benefit of remote deposit technology. For a more detailed discussion, see ATM Deposits vs. Remote Check Deposit.

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