Automated Teller Machines allow you to withdraw cash, make deposits or check your account balance at ATMs across the country and around the world. To use an ATM, all you have to do is put your card in the machine and punch in your personal identification number.
But that isn't all you can do with an ATM card. Thanks to electronic links between banks, merchants and ATM networks, many businesses will let you purchase merchandise and services using your card. Just look for a sign or sticker indicating which cards are accepted. When the register rings up the total, slide your card through the electronic reader and enter your PIN. You or the cashier can then enter the dollar amount for approval. The machine electronically confirms your request with the bank and deducts the amount from the account balance.If the logo of a credit card company appears on your ATM card, you can use it wherever those credit cards are accepted. Instead of entering your PIN, you'll sign a receipt to complete the transaction. The money is automatically deducted from the checking account.
Benefits to shopping with your ATM card include:
- Convenience. There's no need to carry cash or worry about remembering your checkbook. All you need is your card.
- Acceptance. You're usually asked for ID when you write a check, especially if it's drawn on an out-of-state bank. With your ATM card you identify yourself with your PIN and your bank automatically verifies that you have enough funds to cover the transaction.
- Record keeping. Any transaction you make with your ATM card is listed on your monthly bank statement. That provides a record of your purchases and is a good way for you to monitor your spending habits.
When you're signing up for a card, keep in mind that some banks charge a transaction fee each time you withdraw cash from another bank's machine. Merchants may also charge a fee for ATM card purchases. Ask you bank if there are fees for different uses of your card and if so, how much.
Remember to record purchases and deduct fees from your account register.
To learn more about ATM cards, ask for a copy of the pamphlet "Shopping With Your ATM Card," (item 628A, free), by sending your name and address to Consumer Information Center, Dept. 628A, Pueblo, CO 81009.