A cash machine, or automated teller machine (ATM), is a computer terminal that allows a withdrawal of cash from an account. You can also make deposits and transfer money from one account to another. ATMs are located in banks, shopping malls, grocery stores, and even sports arenas.
To use an ATM for banking, you must apply for a card from your financial institution. This card is called a debit card, which is a cash card that allows you to withdraw money or pay for purchases from your checking or savings account. The card also allows you to access the machine for other purposes. Some financial institutions may charge a small fee for the use of the card. Unlike a credit card, a debit card enables you to spend only the money that you have in your account.
When you use your debit card, the ATM computer will ask you to enter your personal identification number (PIN). Never give this number to any business or individual, or for online trans- actions. Memorize it and keep a written record in a safe place. Never keep your PIN with your debit card. If your card is lost or stolen along with your PIN, any- one could withdraw money from your account.
ATM Fees The fees that some financial institutions charge for the convenience of using an ATM can add up over time. You may feel that the benefit is worth the cost. However, you might consider these suggestions:
- Compare ATM fees before opening an account. Get a list of fees in writing
- Use your bank’s ATM machines to avoid the additional fees that other banks charge when you use their machines.
- Consider using traveler’s checks, credit cards, personal checks, and prepaid cash cards when you are away from home.
Lost Debit Cards If you lose your debit card, or if it is stolen, notify your bank immediately. Most card issuers will not hold you responsible for stolen funds. Check with your card issuer. However, some institutions require you to notify them within two days of losing your card. If you wait longer, you may be held responsible for up to a certain amount. Beyond a certain time, your liability may be unlimited.