How to Apply for an ATM Card

Having easy access to your cash is extremely important, even in an age when electronic payments are becoming more prevalent. Money can be withdrawn from the counter of your bank branch but it’s obviously much easier and more convenient to be able to withdraw your money from a cash machine. Let’s look then at the types of card that are available and how you can apply for them.

Cash card or Debit Card:

When people use the term “ATM card” they are typically referring to the plastic card that will have been issued with your main Checking/Current Account. Incidentally, the term “ATM” simply stands for Automated Teller Machine but it’s probably easier to refer to them by the term cash machine.

The difference between a cash card and a debit card is as follows. A cash card will only provide you with the ability to withdraw cash from a cash machine. You will not be able to use it to make electronic payments on the Internet or in shops. In contrast, a debit card allows you to make payments on the Internet or in stores, as well as enabling you to withdraw cash.

In the majority of cases, the issuing of the card will be intrinsically linked to the opening of the Checking/Current Account. The way of applying for an ATM card, therefore, is to apply to open a Checking/Current Account and make it clear that you wish to have a card with the account. As part of the account application process you may be asked to select which type of card (cash card or debit card) you wish to apply for or.

It’s worth noting that the availability of debit cards (like credit cards, overdrafts, loans, etc) is subject to a process called credit scoring. This means that the bank will assess your current financial position and their systems will make a recommendation on whether to offer you a debit card. The reason why credit scoring applies for debit cards is that they can be used to create debt on the account.

Cash cards, on the other hand, normally don’t require to go through credit scoring as they only allow you to withdraw cash from cash machines and they only allow you to withdraw money provided you have the required amount in your checking/current account. In other words, it should not be possible to go into an unauthorised overdraft position by using a cash card.

At the end of your checking/current account application process, you should be advised whether the account can be opened and what type of card (if any) is going to be issued. You will normally also have to provide proof of your identity and address before the account and card facilities can be finalised. Your card will then be posted to you and you should then receive notification of your card PIN separately. Your card PIN is the 4 digit number that’s required to withdraw money from cash machines.

What happens if I’m declined for a card?

The most common scenario where this applies is where someone opens a bank account for the first time. The bank may be reticent to issue a debit card until they have seen some evidence that the individual can manage their account sensibly. If this is the case, then you should ask whether you can have a cash card in the meantime, and then manage your account prudently for a few months before asking the bank if they will review their initial decision on the issue of a debit card.

Cash cards on savings accounts:

I’ve focused on the fact that cash cards and debit cards are available on checking/current accounts. However, it’s often also possible to get a cash card (but not a debit card) with your savings account provided that it’s an instant access savings account. You would normally apply for the cash card at the time of opening the savings account but, alternatively, you could request the addition of the cash card at a subsequent point. This will normally be done by speaking to your local branch but there may also be options to request a card via online banking or telephone banking.

Credit cards:

Credit cards also provide the ability for an individual to withdraw money from a cash machine. However, unlike cash cards and debit cards they are not directly linked to a checking/current account. They are therefore applied for on their own and (like debit cards) will be subject to credit scoring.


Banks issue three main types of card that can be used in cash machine and these are called cash cards, debit cards, and credit cards. Cash cards and debit cards are linked to a bank account and are therefore normally applied for as part of the account set-up process. You will be required to provide some initial information as part of the account application form and your bank will then confirm the card facilities it’s willing to give you. Following the approval process, your card will be posted to you and this normally takes 2 to 3 days. You will then be advised separately of the PIN number that is to be used with the card. Credit cards are the other type of card and are applied for separately. Credit cards and debit cards are subject to credit scoring and are only available to those aged over 18.