Automated teller machines, or better known nowadays as ATMs, are machines that are located externally to a bank counter where customers walk or drive up and conduct banking transactions without the assistance of a bank employee. Most often they are used to withdraw cash, and many refer to ATMs as “cash machines.”
In the modern day, it is hard to imagine life without automated teller machines. The advent of ATMs have completely transformed traditional methods of banking. No longer are bank customers confined to banking at their local branch or even within their bank system. These machines allow a level of flexibility where people access money electronically, often for a fee.
To access bank accounts or obtain cash from an ATM, a plastic card is necessary. The card, issued by the bank to the customer, is one of the entry keys needed to gain access to the account. The use of the card, along with a security code called a PIN, allows the user to perform transactions. Users insert it into the machine, press in their PIN, and prompts will appear on the machine. At this time customers withdraw cash, check balance or transfer funds.
What is a PIN?
In conjunction with the bank-issued card, a PIN number is also needed before an ATM station can be used. A PIN is a short string of numbers that serve as a password to gain entry to the bank account. Users should choose a secure PIN and take special care and protect their PIN like they would a valuable possession. If a thief gains possession of a card and knowledge of the PIN, then money in the customers account becomes vulnerable to theft. ATM users are wise to memorize their PIN rather than write the number down and carry it on their person.
There are several different kinds of ATMs. Some machines are run by specific banks and others are offered by third parties. Fee structures will vary. Customers who bank from machines owned and run by their own bank are usually available free of charge. However, withdrawing money from another bank’s ATM will usually incur some sort of fee. A handful of banks, often ones that do not have their own automated teller machines, such as online banks, do reimburse their customers for ATMs fees charged; presumably since they do not have a physical bank option.
There are many advantages to having ATMs available. No longer are people limited to traditional banking hours, which were once 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with perhaps some Saturday hours. Today, individuals access their money 24/7 through machines placed at banks or at kiosks in various locations. ATMs are found in airports, malls, outside banks and in a variety of places.
Automated teller machines have become so popular and widespread that many people today would probably have a difficult time adjusting to not having access to an ATM.