Can You Deposit A Check At An ATM?

Q:

Can you deposit a check at an ATM?

A:

Many banks offer the ability to deposit a check at their ATMs. Not all ATMs allow deposits since some are designed for basic functions like withdrawing cash or balance inquiries. However, it is common to find an ATM associated with your bank that allows deposits.

How ATM Deposits Work

Traditional ATMs – Simply access your account at your bank’s ATM with your ATM card. The screen will give you an option to deposit. Once you select the deposit option, enter the amount you are depositing  and put the check in an envelop with the deposit amount written on the envelop. The envelop is usually provided by the bank. You then insert the envelop into a slot on the ATM that is designed to accept check envelops.

New ATMs Many banks have installed more advanced ATMs. These ATMs allow you to insert a check after queued and the machine scans it. The ATM determines the deposit amount from the scanned check. There is no need for an envelop or to key in the deposit amount. You then confirm the deposit amount that was determined by the ATM on the screen and the deposit is complete. Some of these machines permit a stack of checks or cash to be inserted all at once so you do not have to spend your valuable time feeding the machine your deposits.

Note that there are some variations to how each machine operates, but the above gives you a general idea of the process to deposit a check in an ATM.

ATM Problems

There are various potential problems with using an ATM to deposit a check. Here are a few issues you should consider:

  • Complexity – While ATM manufacturers do their best to make the machines user friendly, there are some users who feel that the ATM is difficult to navigate. It may take a couple of deposits to get comfortable with using the ATM deposit feature. It may be best to go to an ATM that is not busy so you do not feel pressured to hurry from the person waiting behind you.
  • Safety – ATMs are often available 24 hours a day and are commonly located outside. You should try to visit your ATM when there are a lot of people active in the area. You may want to avoid depositing cash if you are suspicious of the ATM location.
  • Fraud – Criminals have been known to hook skimmers (card scanners) up to the slot where you insert your card. These skimmers can steal your card information once the card is inserted into the slot. This allows thieves to use your card without your knowledge. Additionally, if your ATM card is lost or stolen, you run the risk of a criminal gaining access to your funds. There are other methods that might be used, but these our two of the infamous ways that thieves use to steal your money.
  • Machine Problems – ATMs do have their problems with errors from time to time. For example, people have noted that some new machines cannot read a particular check after it has been scanned. You should always obtain a printed receipt. If you notice an error, you should address it with the bank immediately. ATM errors are rare, but they do happen.
  • Deposit Availability – There may be a lag between when you deposit a check and how soon those funds are available for withdrawal. The full deposit may not be available until the check clears. For example, assume you deposit $500 into an ATM. The bank may only allow you to withdraw $100 on the day of deposit and the remaining funds the next business day. Each bank has their own policy so may need to contact your bank to figure out what applies to you.

Final Notes

Making a check deposit into an ATM is typically quick and convenient. The majority of ATM users never or rarely experience difficulties using the machine. Yes, there are some problems as indicated above, but generally the process is very smooth and safe. It may take a few times to get familiar with a particular ATM, but once you get the hang of depositing, it is very easy.