Can you deposit cash at an ATM?

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Especially if you do most or all of your banking online, depositing cash at an ATM is a convenient option — when it’s possible.

Especially if you do most or all of your banking online, depositing cash at an ATM is a convenient option — when it’s possible.

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Fewer Americans use cash these days than ever before: In a given week, 41% say that they don’t make any purchases with actual bills and coins, according to a 2022 Pew Research survey. Likewise, more and more people conduct their financial lives through online banks that don’t have any physical branches.

If you’re one of the many Americans living a virtually paperless life, you may wonder what to do if you suddenly receive a significant amount of cash — say you receive hundreds of dollars as wedding gifts or you hold a garage sale where a lot of buyers pay in bills. 

The answer could be depositing cash at an ATM. Whether that option works for you will depend on factors such as the type of bank account you have and whether your bank or credit union allows cash deposits at ATMs. Even if you can deposit money at an ATM, it’s important to understand the fees involved. 

Here’s what you need to know about depositing money at an ATM.

Can you deposit cash at an ATM?

Most but not all banks allow you to deposit cash at ATMs — but there are some important factors to understand. 

  • Fees: Some online banks partner with traditional banks for ATM services, and those banks may charge a fee for cash deposits. Even some traditional banks charge fees for depositing cash at an ATM rather than at a branch. You may also be charged a fee for depositing cash at an out-of-network ATM. Make sure you understand how much the transaction costs, and if you think you’ll be doing it frequently, consider finding a bank that doesn’t charge for the privilege.
  • Deposit limits: Just like banks set daily withdrawal limits from ATMs, many set daily cash deposit limits as well, typically around $4,000 to $5,000. Some also limit the number of bills you can deposit at any given time, regardless of how much money they add up to.
  • Processing periods: You might not be able to immediately access cash that you deposit, so factor in a few days of processing time if you’re planning on then using the cash for an electronic transfer.

You can typically deposit checks in an ATM without any hassle, but as with any transaction, you’ll want to understand your bank’s rules before proceeding.

How much cash can you deposit at an ATM?

As mentioned above, most banks limit how much cash you can deposit at an ATM. The limit can be either a dollar amount or the number of bills — though the number of bills will also translate to a dollar limit, as well. We’ll explain. 

Let’s say the ATM allows you to insert no more than 30 bills in one day. The maximum dollar amount will vary depending on the value of the bills you deposit. For instance, if you deposit all $20 bills, then the maximum dollar amount would be $600. But if you have 30 $100 bills, that means you can deposit no more than $3,000 in one day.  

How to deposit cash at an ATM

The specific steps may vary depending on your bank or credit union, as well as the ATM you’re using, but you’ll generally follow a similar process: 

Check to see whether you can deposit cash

There’s no point walking up to an ATM and trying to deposit cash when you won’t be able to. You’re better off checking first. You can usually find out whether your bank accepts ATM deposits on its website or mobile app, or by calling customer service. 

Get your cash ready

Double check the amount you want to deposit before heading to the ATM, as well as the maximum number of bills the ATM accepts. You may want to organize the bills so they’re flat and unwrinkled to save time once you’re at the ATM.

Check the ATM

After you arrive at the ATM, check to see that it hasn’t been tempered with. Thieves may put a skimming device on top of the machine to steal sensitive information, such as your debit card number. If you notice anything suspicious, call the police.

Insert your debit or ATM card

The ATM will prompt you with instructions after you insert your card and enter your pin number. It will ask you what you want to do — you can choose to withdraw money, check your account balance(s), deposit money, and sometimes more. You can also select which account should receive the cash

Some machines may ask whether you’re depositing cash or a check. Select the option that applies to you, then use the keypad to type in the amount you want to deposit. 

Insert cash

Some ATMs will require you to count the bills and put them into an envelope before inserting them into the machine. If so, you’ll find the envelopes close to the ATM. Seal the envelope carefully and write your name and deposit amount on it as an extra precaution. 

Other ATMs will let you insert bills directly, like you would at a vending machine. 

Verify deposit

The ATM will prompt you to confirm the amount you’ve deposited. Before sealing the envelope or depositing the cash, double check to make sure everything is correct. If the amount is wrong, you’ll most likely have to cancel the transaction and start all over again. 

After completing the deposit, you may be asked to print a confirmation slip. You can keep this for your records and check your account to see whether the deposit went through. Depending on your financial institution, it could take up to several business days. 

Can you deposit cash at an out-of-network ATM?

In most cases, financial institutions will only accept cash deposits through in-network ATMs. If you find an out-of-network ATM that will accept your cash deposit, be prepared to pay a fee. If you frequently deposit cash, you may want to open an account at a bank with a more extensive ATM network. 

Bottom line

While ATMs can be a great way to deposit cash, not all ATMs accept it. Even if an ATM does accept cash, pay attention to possible fees, deposit limits, and processing periods. As an alternative, consider opening an account at a bank with numerous brick-and-mortar locations if you often need to deposit cash.

Editorial Disclosure: All articles are prepared by editorial staff and contributors. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the editorial team and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including rates and fees, presented in this article is accurate as of the date of the publish. Check the lender’s website for the most current information.

This article was originally published on SFGate.com and reviewed by Lauren Williamson, who serves as the Home and Financial Services Editor for the Hearst E-Commerce team. Email her at [email protected].

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