What is an Automated Teller Machine (ATM)?

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ATM is a popular acronym that you have probably used one time or another. ATM means Automated Teller Machine.

An ATM is a unique kind of computer that makes it possible for you to manage your money conveniently. For instance, almost all automated teller machines let you withdraw money, and some even allow you to make deposits (this feature isn’t active in some parts of the world).

At some ATM stands, you are permitted to print a statement (a record of your bank account activities or transactions); you can check your account balances (that is the amount of cash in your accounts at the moment); transfer funds between your accounts; and sometimes purchase stamps.

Usually, you can gain access to the most services when you use an ATM that is operated by the bank you have an account with.

Why use ATMs?

You may wonder why you need to use ATMs when you can walk into a bank and carry out transactions. Well, ATMs are a convenient and safe medium to manage your money.

The good thing about ATMs is that there are millions of them around the world, and many of them are available for use 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

While most of them are in your national languages, some allow you to choose the language you want to be served in.

Is there a fee for using an ATM?

Depending on what part of the world you live in, you may have to check with your bank to find out if customers are charged any ATM fees. Almost every banks have a specific fee they charge non-customers who make use of their ATMs.

However, even though you get charged for using ATMs that are not for your bank, it is a lot less expensive than when you use a check-cashing service.

How do you use an ATM?

Operating an ATM is very simple, and most young people may not require any assistance to figure it out.

To operate an automated teller machine, you need to insert an ATM or debit card into the machine and punch in a Personal Identification Number (PIN), (usually, a four-digit secret password that you create).

Then, choose the banking service you need ( withdrawal, deposit, transfer funds, etc.).

Read the following steps to know the basics of using an ATM or debit card at a machine.

Request an ATM card/debit card.

Once you open a bank account, the bank will most probably offer you a chance to apply for an ATM card or a debit card.

If you ever notice your ATM card is stolen or lost, immediately contact your bank.

Create a PIN

To use your ATM card at the machine, you must type in a Personal Identification Number (PIN), which is a secret combination of either numbers or letters only, you know.

Your ATM PIN is a secret password and must not be shared with anyone else.

If someone else gains access to your ATM pin, they can withdraw money from your account — If for any reason you have to share your pin (maybe in an emergency situation), all you need to do afterward is visit an automated teller machine and change your pin.

Stay alert and aware

Because almost all ATMs transactions involve withdrawal or deposit of cash, you must remain alert and be aware of your surroundings.

Follow on-screen directions

Not all Automated teller machines work in the same manner, but all of them are designed to be used with ease.

All you have to do is follow the directions on the machine screen that you’re using. If there is bank security or assistant assigned to a machine, you can seek their help.

Be aware of the fees

Your ATM card will always work in machines owned by your own bank. Other bank ATMs may also work well for withdrawal.

While this flexibility is incredible, you have to be careful about hidden charges and transaction fees. You may be charged by either your bank alone, or both your bank and the ATM owner.

Know your available balance

You must have sufficient funds in your account balance to carry out transactions like transfers and withdrawals. Always know your available balance or check it at the ATM stand before attempting a withdrawal.

Record your transactions

Make sure that you write down all your ATM transactions and whatever purchases you have made using your ATM or debit card in a register immediately. This will help you remember and compare the amounts on your receipts and on your bank statement monthly to ensure that they tally.

Both ATM cards and debit cards are convenient and safe ways to make deposits, get cash, transfer funds, and buy things.

ATM vs. debit cards: The difference

Most people do not know the differences between debit cards, ATM cards, and credit cards.

ATM cards

ATM cards are all PIN-based cards. This means that apart from using it at ATMs, you can also use it to make purchases online or in stores with point of sale devices.

Debit card

A debit card is very similar to a regular ATM card in looks, and you can make transactions with it at ATMs. The significant difference is that debit cards carry either a Visa® or Mastercard® logo on it.

What this means is that you can use your debit card anywhere Visa® or Mastercard® cards can be used, for instance, restaurants, department stores, or online.

Credit card

There is a difference between a debit card and a credit card. You can quickly tell what the difference is. When you use your debit card, the cash is deducted from your account balance. With a credit card, the money you withdraw is borrowed to be repaid later.

ATM and debit cards let you use an ATM machine. Both are a safe and convenient way to manage your finances. Because there are many ATMs around the world, you’ll never get stranded once you have a card and sufficient funds.

Leave your questions and comments below.

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Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ella Romena is a content writer, sociologist and Anthropologist who lives in Benin-city.

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