How to Operate an ATM Machine

by Mariel Loveland - Updated July 17, 2018

An ATM, or Automatic Teller Machine, lets you manage your bank account from anywhere in the world -- just watch out for those killer international fees. If you're a business owner or simply enthusiastic about trendy, cash-only bars and restaurants, you're probably pretty well acquainted with ATM machine operation, but how much do you actually know about using one in your small business?

From bodega owners to restaurateurs, small business owners are using ATMs to bring additional profits into their businesses. It works like this: purchase or rent an ATM and tack on a fee (typically between $1 and $8) to allow patrons to withdraw cash using their debit cards. Operating an ATM is fairly simple and mainly hinges on keeping your cash machine fully stocked and practicing vigilant safety measures.

Buy, Sell Or Lease

Your ATM machine business profits have a lot to do with whether you buy, lease or use a placement company to obtain an ATM. Each has their benefits. Leasing has a lower startup cost, but paying up front generally saves money in the long run. A placement company is by far the easiest option because they'll handle the entirety of your ATM machine operation. In return, you're typically committed to a minimum amount of usage and a healthy share of profits.

Keeping Track Of Your Cash

How many times have you punched your pin into the ATM machine buttons only to find out that it's totally out of cash? This not only discourages customers from using your particular ATM machine, but it can ruin your reputation as a business owner. The last thing you want to do is annoy your loyal patrons, so make sure to regularly refill your ATM and maximize on your ATM machine business profits.

Most ATMs come with instructions about how to replenish the cash using the ATM machine buttons. This typically involves inserting a balancing card that calculates totals and prints a receipt of how much cash the ATM has left and how much cash it doled out. This should be done before you switch your ATM into supervisor mode to replenish the funds and to start a new balance cycle after you refill it with cash.

Video of the Day

Brought to you by Techwalla
Brought to you by Techwalla

Un-Lock And Load

After you've got your receipt, it's time to switch your ATM mode from the normal setting to supervisor mode. This mode allows you to replenish the cash. A switch is typically located somewhere at the back of your unit. Make sure you use the ATM machine buttons to clear the ATM totals before loading cash into the cassettes. Test the cash to make sure it will properly dispense, switch the mode back to normal, then close up your ATM and wait for it to go back online. Make sure you reset the cash totals on the front of the ATM once it's connected. Again, this varies machine-to-machine so make sure you read the manual.

Splitting Your ATM Machine Business Profits

A major part of ATM machine operation is splitting the profits. It's an unfortunate reality, but passive income is passive income. You make it while you sleep. There are usually three parties involved in ATM profits: the ATM owner, the venue, and the processor who handles all the paperwork. The processor's fee is the most complicated to account for. Your contract with the processor will have surcharge rebate percentage in addition to a $0.10 to $0.75 transaction fee. The surcharge rebate is the amount of the ATM fee you get to keep from each customer. For example, if your surcharge rebate is 100%, you get to keep the entire amount of the ATM fees you charge. The only fee removed is the per-transaction fee. Venue owners also typically receive $0.50 per transaction after processors are paid out. Owners are the last to get paid.

Always Be Safety-Minded

ATM machines hold a lot of cash and let's be real – it's way easier to rob some poor business owner than it is to rob a bank. This is why you should always practice vigilant ATM safety. Make sure you don't refill your ATM at the same time on the same day every week. Someone can be watching and waiting for their moment. Make sure your doors are locked and no one is around when you open your unit. Do not attempt to open your ATM during business hours, and if you must, you may wish to hire a security guard to keep a watchful eye while you're performing regular maintenance.

About the Author

Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.

Photo Credits

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article