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Will That ATM Accept Your Cash Deposit? Maybe

Rather than walking around with a wad of bills, deposit it in your bank account. But can you do so at any ATM you walk by? It depends.

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The world may seem like it has shifted to an all-digital economy, dominated by mobile banking apps and contactless payments, but the reality is that cash is still king, seemingly accessible on just about every street corner. In fact, data from the Pew Research Center shows that nearly 60% of Americans still make some form of cash purchase every week. 

Whether you’re being paid with cash at your job, or your friend just handed you $40 to pay you back for dinner, it’s safer to store those greenbacks in your bank account. But can you deposit your cash at any ATM? Read on to learn more about your options, and possible restrictions, when making deposits at an ATM.

Can you deposit cash at an ATM?

Ultimately, the answer depends on a few variables -- most importantly, the ATM. If the ATM is a bank-branded machine, it likely accepts cash deposits. However, other ATMs may solely be there for withdrawals. For example, the CO-OP network of ATMs -- a network that’s available to many members of more than 1,900 credit unions -- has more than 30,000 ATMs, but just over 7,500 actually accept deposits. 

If you constantly deal with stacks of cash, you’ll want to focus on finding a bank with a wide network of ATMs.

Can you deposit cash at an ATM that isn’t your bank?

Making cash deposits at an ATM that isn’t owned by your bank isn’t easy. In a lot of cases, it’s not an option, and even if it is, there may be additional fees for the service. Plus, because it’s not your bank, you should be prepared for a delay in seeing that cash deposit actually reflected in your balance. What’s more, because that money is being inserted into a different ATM with a different owner (then transferred via a third party), your money is passing through multiple hands with different processing times and service guarantees.

However, there are some exceptions. For example, a lot of banks offer their customers fee-free access to the Allpoint network of more than 55,000 machines. The majority of those are designed for withdrawals, but the Allpoint Plus network -- around 1,500 machines at select Walgreens and CVS locations in some metro areas -- is geared to accept cash deposits. 

Are there limits to the amount of cash you can deposit at an ATM?

There typically isn’t a limit on the actual dollar amount for ATM deposits. Instead, you’re usually limited to the number of bills per deposit -- often capped at 30 bills. So, for example, if you have 45 bills, you can simply make one deposit of 30 bills, followed by another with the remaining 15 bills. However, limits vary from bank to bank. For example, Local 804 Federal Credit Union -- a member of the Allpoint Plus network -- restricts cash deposits to $1,000 per day.

How to deposit cash at an ATM

Making a cash deposit at an ATM is a fairly straightforward process. Here’s a rundown of the steps:

  • Use your card to access your account: Input your PIN.
  • Choose “deposit” from the list of available actions: Once you’re logged in, you’ll also need to select which account you want the funds to be credited to.
  • Input your bills in the appropriate slot: Most ATMs will want you to stack the bills directly in the designated area. 
  • Double-check that the amount is correct: Make sure the machine’s math equals the amount you deposited.
  • Get a receipt: It’s always good to get a record of your deposit in case any issues arise. Once you see the funds in your account, you can toss the receipt in the trash.

How do you deposit cash at an online-only bank?

While online banks are great options for lower fees and higher rates, they’re able to deliver those benefits because they don’t pay for the costs of managing thousands of ATM locations. Some of the most popular online-only banks don’t allow cash deposits at all. Ally, for example, doesn’t accept any cash deposits. 

Instead of using the convenience of an ATM, some online-only banks offer a different route for depositing cash. Varo Bank and SoFi, for example, allow customers to use the Green Dot network at checkout. However, it’s a somewhat convoluted system that involves asking a cashier to deposit the cash. Plus, some merchants charge extra fees for the service. Ultimately, online-only banks aren’t a great option for making cash deposits. If you have an account at another bank with brick-and-mortar locations, you’re better off depositing the money there and then transferring the funds electronically.

The bottom line

If you’re really focused on the ability to make cash deposits at an ATM, your top priority in a checking account should be your bank’s ATM network. While it may be possible to make cash deposits at some out-of-network ATMs, the additional fees and processing delays will create more challenges for your money management.

FAQs

Just ask. Banks have different policies when it comes to dealing with deposits and ATM charges, so there isn’t one simple rule.

Cash deposits at ATMs typically post immediately, while check deposits tend to have a longer delay. However, if you make the deposit late at night, your bank’s policy may dictate that the funds will not be available until the next business day.

If the ATM is part of your bank’s network, you will not pay any fees.

David McMillin writes about credit cards, mortgages, banking, taxes and travel. Based in Chicago, he writes with one objective in mind: Help readers figure out how to save more and stress less. He is also a musician, which means he has spent a lot of time worrying about money. He applies the lessons he's learned from that financial balancing act to offer practical advice for personal spending decisions.
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