In this day and age just about everyone uses ATMs now. After all, it does make depositing and withdrawing money so much easier than having to make an extra trip to your bank, especially when your bank is on the other side of town, it's after hours, or on the weekend. There's no doubt that being able to use an ATM is very convenient. However, there are several mistakes you may be making when using an ATM, so you need to be careful when taking advantage of this handy modern convenience. Here are 10 of the most common ATM mistakes people make.
1. Keep Track of Withdrawals
You'd be surprised at how many people don't keep track of the money they withdraw from ATMs. For instance, let's say you have no money on you, but you want a little something to eat, so you draw out twenty dollars. Then you do it again a little later in order to get a few snacks, some gum, or Starbucks. Before you know it, after drawing out twenty here and ten there, you've taken a hundred dollars out of your account. That amount will make a big difference if you don't keep track and can even cause you to be short on a bill when it comes time to pay it. What's worse is when you don't pay attention and overdraft your account. The best way to keep track is by keeping your ATM receipts, or at least your latest one, so that you know exactly how much you have in your account.
2. Check ATM Receipts Thoroughly
Another one you'd be surprised about is the number of people who either don't ask for a receipt when using an ATM or simply throw the receipt away in the receptacle provided. If a mistake was made, you'll have a tough time proving it without your ATM receipt. Always be sure to check your receipt while still at the ATM. Even though the ATM can't correct mistakes, it's generally best if you at least check your receipt while still in front of the ATM camera. Either way, it's also best to NOT throw away your receipts at the ATM. Always keep your latest receipt in case you need to dispute a mistake.
3. Pay Attention to ATM Fees
Everyone knows if you don't use your bank's ATM or an ATM which boasts no fees, you're going to pay to get your own money. ATMs charge between a dollar to three dollars for allowing you to withdraw money. It may not seem right to have to pay to get your own money, but that's how ATM machines make their money. Always be sure to pay attention to how much an ATM is charging you for its use. It's best to either use your own bank's ATM or to locate one that advertises no fees. Either way, make sure to add the fees in when subtracting the total from your bank account. Not doing so could result in an overdraft.
4. Don't Use ATMs Without a Vestibule
Unfortunately, standalone ATMs are easier for criminals to attach fake card readers and/or keypads in order to get your account information. The best ATMs to use are those which are enclosed in little glass rooms where you actually have to swipe your card first in order to gain access. Of course, those aren't always available, but remember that standalone ATMs can be dangerous. Using ATMs that are located inside a business are generally safer than those which are are outside by themselves. Either way, if you can't use an ATM inside a vestibule, be sure to give the unit you do use a good once-over, checking for anything that may seem fishy. If anything at all seems out of place, just don't use it. There are plenty of ATMs to choose from; don't use one if you think anything seems off.
5. Don't Hold the Door for Others
When using an ATM inside a vestibule where you have to swipe your card to gain access, don't hold the door open for others. What is generally considered being polite, may allow access to someone who shouldn't be allowed. In addition, it's also about your own safety and security. Vestibules which have made it only possible to gain access by swiping your card have done so for the safety and security of their customers and it is meant to only allow customers in one at a time. Just use your best judgement, but it is one time when it's not considered being rude to not hold the door open.
6. Shield Your Pin
Even if there's no one in line behind you, it's still a good idea to cover the screen when entering your pin number. Believe it or not, next-level criminals may set up cameras near ATMs just for capturing pin numbers as customers enter them, not knowing they're being recorded. Just use your other hand to cover the number pad as you enter your personal pin. Even if there's no one behind you and even if don't believe a covert camera is watching, it's just better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your money.
7. Keeping Your Receipt
Although we touched on this before, it needs to be mentioned again. Computers CAN make mistakes and your ATM receipt is proof of your transaction, just in case there's an error which needs disputing. In addition, and the reason it's worth mentioning again, is also the fact that you'd be surprised at what a criminal can do with just the information on your receipt, your name and partial account number. It's best to shred receipts once the withdrawal or deposit has cleared, but if you don't shred it, at least keep it and dispose of it at home or somewhere else that's safer.
8. Don't Use Your Credit Card
Even though you may feel more secure using your credit card to withdraw money than using your debit card, the APR on ATM withdrawals is generally super high. Furthermore, using a credit card usually subjects you to an additional cash advance fee as well. There's no grace period on interest paid for withdrawals made with credit cards, either. Only when it's an emergency should you use your credit card for cash withdrawals. The rest of the time, stick to using your bank/debit card.
9. You Don't Have to Use an ATM for Deposits
Thanks to camera phones, there's no reason to go all the way to an ATM just to deposit a check into your account. Instead, you can make a mobile deposit by using your bank's banking app and making a personal account. It's extremely simple and you don't even have to leave your home. Sign the check, the same as you would if you were depositing it manually, then simply take a picture of both the front and the back. Using the mobile app will deposit the check based on the pictures. Be sure to hold on to the physical check, however, until it clears, just to be safe. It's your only record of having the check when using mobile checking.
10. Fight the Fees
ATMs can charge outrageous fees, as everyone who's ever used one knows. Don't hesitate to ask your bank to remove them. If you're a longtime customer and explain you had no other choice but use the ATM in question, they will generally refund the fees. It may only be three dollars, but it all adds up.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker