An Automated Teller Machine, or ATM, seems to take the place of face-to-face banking these days. You can simply walk or drive up to your bank's ATM and do many transactions without ever speaking with a person. That's why it is so important to know the directions for using an ATM correctly. It is also important to be aware of staying safe while using an ATM and being a courteous user.

Personal Identification Number (PIN)

Before using an ATM, you need to have a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Your bank usually assigns a PIN for you or allow you to choose your own PIN when you sign up for a bank account and receive an ATM or debit card. You will need this number every time you use an ATM.

Inserting Your Card

There are two main types of ATMs. The most common type asks you to insert your ATM or debit card into the designated slot. Most machines usually have a screen that shows you which way to insert your card so the machine can read it correctly. If the screen does not show the correct method, simply insert your card with the bank logo facing up. If the machine does not accept it, try turning the card 180 degrees. These ATMs will keep your card inside the machine until your transaction is complete.

The other type of ATM simply asks you to swipe your ATM or debit card to begin your transaction. The machine typically has a diagram which shows you where the stripe on your card should be facing so the computer can read your card.


If you are making a deposit at an ATM, most banks require you to put your check or cash in an envelope. Most ATMs have a supply of these envelopes in the general area so you can make deposits easily. You can save time by taking a few deposit envelopes with you so you can fill them out before going to the ATM.


Making a withdrawal is one of the most common things people do at an ATM. The onscreen prompts will tell you how to make a withdrawal by choosing the correct buttons. Check your bank's daily withdrawal limits, as most banks will only allow you to take out about $500 each day, so long as you have enough money in your account.


When using your ATM or debit card at a machine your bank does not own, you may have to agree to some fees in order to complete your transaction. Depending on the ATM and the bank, fees could be between $1.00 and $4.00. The screen will prompt you to either accept the fees and continue with your transaction or disagree to the fees and end the transaction. If you disagree to the fees, your card or account will not be charged.


Using an ATM requires some etiquette to avoid being inconsiderate for other users. If someone else is using the ATM you want to use, stay back about 10 feet. Some ATM users get nervous if someone is standing too close because you might see their PIN or account balances over their shoulder. Also, when using the ATM and someone is behind you waiting to use the same one, complete your transaction as quickly as possible. Do not do several transactions unless other ATMs are available for use. Finally, do not leave your receipt or other trash just laying on the machine or the ground around it. Most ATMs have a trash can nearby to keep the area looking nice.


One of the most important safety rules for using an ATM is that you should never tell anybody your PIN and do not write it anywhere on your card. This makes you vulnerable to someone taking your card and PIN to use your bank account. The best thing to do is to memorize your PIN and change it every few months.

While at the ATM, stand in such a way to block anyone from seeing your personal information over your shoulder. This prevents anyone from seeing your PIN, balance or anything else during your transaction.

Always remember to take your cash and your ATM card. If you forget your ATM card, report it lost immediately.