Justin Pritchard, CFP, is a fee-only advisor in Colorado. He covers banking and loans and has nearly two decades of experience writing about personal finance.
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Justin PritchardReviewed by
Updated February 27, 2020
It is possible to deposit cash or checks in your bank account using a deposit-enabled ATM. With the growing availability of mobile deposit, though, you can just stay home, take a picture of your check, and submit it for deposit using your bank’s app. So why would you need to ever use ATMs to make deposits?
First, if you have the cash to deposit, then you can’t do it with an app. And with checks, it may take a bit longer for your funds to become available using mobile deposits compared to ATM deposits, depending on your bank’s policies.
Let’s review the process of deposit cash or checks in your bank account using a deposit-enabled ATM—from start to finish.
Not all ATMs accept deposits, and not all deposit-enabled ATMs will work with your account.
Be prepared. Make a habit of bringing everything you need. Try to move as efficiently as possible so that you can get your cash safely into the ATM and avoid holding up the line. Beyond your debit card and personal identification number (PIN), bring the following items:
- A pen for endorsing checks and filling out a deposit slip. Bank-provided pens may be missing or out of ink.
- A deposit slip, if your bank requires one. Grab a few extra so you can fill these out before arriving at the ATM the next time you make a deposit. Plus, you never know if they’ll run out.
- An envelope, if your bank requires one. Again, grab a few extra if your bank requires a particular type of envelope.
Before you begin your deposit, look around to ensure that the environment is safe. Don’t pull out cash if somebody is watching you and making you feel uncomfortable.
Also verify that the ATM you want to use accepts deposits (and that it works with your bank account).
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You may be able to insert multiple deposit items at once. Some machines allow you to insert a stack of up to 30 items. But be sure to follow the on-screen instructions to see if you need to insert them one-by-one.
When you finish, confirm that the deposit was completed correctly. Review the amount deposited, and, if possible, make any corrections. Next, get a receipt, preferably with images of each check you deposited on the receipt. Confirm that your session ended and that your account is no longer accessible before you walk away from the machine.
When you deposit funds through an ATM, there may be a delay before you can use the money. You might have to wait before using funds for debit card purchases, bill payments, and withdrawals. Check your bank’s funds availability policy, which explains your bank’s rules for holding deposits.
Cash deposits to a no-envelope ATM might be available immediately or within one business day. Check deposits typically post on the same day you deposit, but your bank might only make the first $200 of your check available within one or two business days. The remaining amount should be available for use after a few business days.
Cut-off times are sometimes generous when you use an ATM. Banks might allow you to deposit funds as late as 8:00 p.m. (or later) to have the deposit count for that day. Especially if your bank clears your deposits quickly, this can be helpful when you’re too late to reach a teller.
Before relying on an ATM entirely, make sure you know some of the potential pitfalls.
Occasionally, ATMs make mistakes, and researching transactions can take several days or more.
Bringing cash to an ATM opens up the opportunity for robbery or for somebody to steal your card information and PIN (the same goes for withdrawals from an ATM). Evaluate your ATM’s location, stick to well-lit areas, and remember there is safety in numbers.
If you regularly deposit cash, change your routine so nobody can learn your patterns. If you’re just depositing checks, there’s less risk, and you can even deposit those checks with your mobile device instead (from the safety of your home or workplace).
Again, depositing in person with a bank employee might be the fastest way to get access to funds from a check. If time is of the essence, try to get to a teller before branches close.
There are some important things to keep in mind before making your first ATM deposit:
Typically, you cannot make deposits to another bank’s ATM. If you don’t have an account at a given bank, you can often make withdrawals (for an extra fee), but you can’t make deposits.
Look for ATM networks that might work with your bank. Another easy way to find out whether or not you can make a deposit is to simply insert your card and punch in your PIN. If you see an option to make deposits, you’re in business.
If you’re out of the country or even just out of town, it may be difficult to find a deposit-enabled ATM for your account. Even if your bank has ATMs installed overseas (or is part of a network), they might not work for deposits.
Online banks often prefer that you make mobile check deposits. But if you want to deposit cash or use an ATM for any reason, those banks might also have relationships with ATM owners. For example, Capital One 360 allows you to make deposits at select ATMs.
If your credit union participates in shared branching, you can use branches of other credit unions. You might not be able to deposit at their ATMs, but you can probably make a deposit inside with a teller. Depending on where you are and your schedule, that may be the solution you need.