Checking basics: Making a deposit at an ATM

Most people who use ATMs have never made a deposit. When it comes to the popularity of banking transactions, ATM deposits are the wallflowers at the ball. The plain fact is that people much prefer taking money out of ATMs to putting it in.

Depositing at your own bank’s ATM is actually pretty straightforward — insert your ATM card and follow the on-screen prompts just as you would with a withdrawal. There are no fees and no hassles. It’s when you step outside the cozy confines of your bank’s ATMs that it can get hazy.

Does the ATM accept deposits?

Not all ATMs accept deposits. Most banks join one or more of the ATM payment networks. You can tell which ones your bank has joined by looking for the network logos on the back of your ATM card. Just as these networks can help you find automated teller machines to make withdrawals when you’re away from home, you can also make deposits — sometimes.

NYCE Corp., for instance, has a shared-deposits program. NYCE says its network includes more than 100,000 ATMs that belong to the 2,200 banks and credit unions in the network; about a third of the institutions participate in the shared deposits program.

Whether you pay a fee for making a deposit depends on your bank and the ATM owner. If there is a fee it will likely, but not always, be higher for an ATM that is off the bank’s official premises, such as the ones found in malls, supermarkets, airports and sports venues.

When are funds available?

Not many off-premise ATMs accept deposits because it’s so much more expensive than having an ATM that simply spits out cash. The reason it’s so expensive is that NYCE has rules about retrieving deposits within 24 hours. That requires an armored car, and then there’s the process of proving the deposits — making sure what’s in the envelope matches the amount keyed in by the cardholder.

Federal regulations require that funds from local checks be available to the depositor no later than the second business day after the day on which the funds were deposited — providing the check was deposited on a banking day and that it was deposited in an ATM owned by your bank. Nonlocal checks can be held for five business days.

The government allows some exceptions when you deposit funds in an ATM that isn’t owned by your bank or one that is off the bank’s premises.

Summary of federal regulations about the availability of funds
  • Banks must post or provide a notice at each ATM location that funds deposited in the ATM may not be available for immediate withdrawal.
  • If a bank makes funds from deposits at an ATM it doesn’t own available for withdrawal later than funds from deposits at an ATM it does own, it must provide a description of how the customer can tell the difference between the two ATMs.
  • If you deposit money in an ATM that isn’t owned by your bank, the funds must be available for withdrawal not later than the fifth business day following the banking day on which the funds are deposited.
  • Funds deposited at an ATM that is not on or within 50 feet of the premises of the bank are considered deposited on the day funds are removed from the ATM, if funds are not normally removed from the ATM more than two times each week.
  • A bank that operates an off-premises ATM from which deposits are not removed more than two times each week must disclose at or on the ATM the days on which deposits made at the ATM will be considered received.
  • Funds deposited at a staffed facility, ATM or contractual branch are considered deposited when they are received at the staffed facility, ATM or contractual branch.

Up next, debit cards give you much more flexibility than the basic ATM card, but they have some important differences that you need to know about.