Automated teller machines (ATMs), sometimes referred to as automated banking machines (ABMs), allow you to withdraw and deposit money. These machines are incredibly convenient as they allow you to manage some of your day-to-day banking needs without having to visit a branch during their hours of operation. You can skip long lines, avoid rushing to get to the bank before it closes and get your banking done while you’re on the go at any hour of the day or night.
To access cash from an ATM, you just need to follow a few simple steps:
The majority of ATMs in Canada only allow you to withdraw Canadian dollars. That said, some machines do offer U.S. dollars. You’ll also find a few ATMs that will allow you to withdraw other foreign currencies, but they’re usually only in airports.
Keep in mind that most financial institutions set a daily withdrawal limit, such as $1,000. However, you can call your bank and ask to have the limit increased if you’re planning to make a large withdrawal.
Although you can use your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, it’s usually an expensive way to get cash. Most financial institutions will consider this transaction a cash advance and will begin charging high interest immediately on top of any fees.
Depositing money into an ATM is easy:
Although you can withdraw cash at just about every ATM, you can usually only make deposits at a machine owned by your financial institution. Other ATMs will not accept your deposits. Most ATMs will only accept Canadian dollars and cheques, but some machines take U.S. dollars. If you need to deposit a USD cheque, you’ll likely have to visit your bank in person.
When depositing cash at an ATM, you’ll have access to that money right away. However, if you’re depositing a cheque, only a portion of the amount will be available immediately. Once your cheque clears in five to eight days, the rest of the funds will be available.
ATMs charge a variety of fees, but you may not be responsible for all of them. Here’s what you need to look out for:
To limit the fees you’ll pay, stick to ATMs owned by your financial institution. If your account includes limited transactions, you’ll also want to watch how many you’re making, as any extra transactions will cost you. If you’re constantly going over the limit, check to see whether your bank or credit union offers an account with unlimited transactions, or consider switching banks.
Finding an ATM is easy, as just about every bank has an ATM locator on their website and in their banking app. Your debit card will work at just about any ATM in Canada, though you’ll want to watch out for the network access fees described above.
However, when you travel outside the country, you need to check what network your bank uses.
Look at the back of your debit card for the Plus, Maestro, or Cirrus symbols. You’ll also see those symbols on ATMs, so you’ll know right away if your card will work. Both Visa and Mastercard have online ATM locators to help you find an ATM when you’re travelling.
Regardless of where in the world you use an ATM, you should always take basic safety precautions. Cover the PIN pad while you enter your PIN, and never use a machine that appears to have been tampered with. If you notice any fraudulent transactions on your account, report them to your bank right away.
Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert. His website moneywehave.com is one of Canada's most trusted sites when it comes to all things related to money and travel. You can reach him on Twitter: @barrychoi.