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Can you deposit cash at an ATM?

man using an atm on the street
anandaBGD/Getty Images
man using an atm on the street
anandaBGD/Getty Images
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If you’re wondering if you can deposit cash at an ATM, the answer is yes, you can, but not all ATMs accept cash.

The details, including fees, vary depending on your bank, and if you use a bank that operates only online, you may not be able to deposit any cash at all. Luckily, there are several alternatives to getting cash into your bank account.

How to make cash deposits at an ATM

The process varies by bank but it’s easy to deposit cash at an ATM. First, confirm the ATM accepts cash, since not all of them do. Then, you just need a debit card and the money to deposit.

  1. Access your account(s). Insert your debit card and enter your PIN. You should be able to see all of your account information once you’re signed in.
  2. Choose an account and an action. Select “deposit” from among the options on the screen, and choose the account where you’d like the money to go.
  3. Enter the bills based on the bank’s instructions. You’ll likely need to insert the bills directly into the deposit slot or place them in a provided envelope first. Then, follow the instructions on the screen.
  4. Confirm the total deposit. After the ATM has counted your cash, it will ask you to confirm the dollar amount and the account where it will be deposited. Click the button to confirm, and the funds will be deposited.
  5. Get a transaction receipt. Get a record of your deposit by opting for a transaction receipt, either printed, emailed or texted to you.

These instructions only apply to depositing cash into your own bank account. You’ll need to choose another option to deposit cash into someone else’s account.

Can you deposit cash at an online-only bank?

Many online banks don’t allow cash deposits, which can make it tricky to get your funds into your account.

“Many Americans have switched to exclusively using online banks, which is handy most of the time, but it’s also problematic, as there’s $1.5 trillion in circulation,” says Jim Pendergast, senior vice president at altLINE, a division of The Southern Bank Co..

One solution is to opt for an automated clearing house transfer from another bank account that allows cash deposits. Plus, Pendergrast notes, ACH is a fast and secure method that doesn’t require any fees.

Still, if you’re looking for an online-only bank that’s willing to accept your cash, you’re not entirely out of luck. Current is an online bank that offers a nontraditional way of making cash deposits. Cash can be added to a Current account by making a deposit at more than 60,000 retailers, including participating CVS Pharmacy, 7-Eleven, Dollar General and Family Dollar. But it’s not free; Current charges $3.50 a deposit.

To put funds into your Current account, open the Current mobile app to access a unique barcode that the cashier at a participating retailer then scans. After the cash is deposited (up to $500 with each transaction) your funds are available right away.

Are there limits to the amount you can deposit at ATMs?

Most banks limit how much cash you can deposit at an ATM, but rather than having a dollar-amount limit, you’re more likely to face a limit on how many bills you can insert at a time. At Wells Fargo, for example, you can deposit up to 30 bills and checks combined. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 $1 bills or 30 $100 dollar bills — the limit is the same.

One benefit of depositing cash over a check is that your funds can be made available more quickly, no matter how much you deposit.

Can you deposit cash at an ATM that’s not owned by your bank?

You may not be able to deposit cash out of network at all, unless the ATM has an existing partnership with your bank. Some institutions let you deposit cash at an out-of-network ATM but charge you for the transaction. Also remember that out-of-network ATM vendors may charge their own fees on top of what your bank charges you. In addition to charging fees, some banks take longer to process out-of-network ATM deposits than in-network ones.

It pays to be clear on charges and processing times before you head to an out-of-network ATM for any banking task.

Bottom line

ATMs are an excellent resource for depositing cash. Depending on where you live, it may be easy to access an ATM from a big bank to deposit your money. While many online banks are limited in their ability to accept cash deposits, there are some options available to make it easier on you.

–Freelance writer Lauren Ward contributed to a previous version of this article.

Written by
Karen Bennett
Consumer banking reporter
Karen Bennett is a consumer banking reporter at Bankrate. She uses her finance writing background to help readers learn more about savings and checking accounts, CDs, and other financial matters.
Edited by
Wealth editor