How Do Cardless ATMs Work?

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Chances are you're familiar with how to make contactless payments when checking out at the grocery store or pharmacy. Just hold your digital wallet or contactless-enabled card up to the payment terminal and authorize the transaction.

At cardless ATMs, withdrawing money without inserting your debit card is also possible—and it could be an easier and safer way to get cash when you need it. Here, we'll go over what cardless ATMs are and how they work.

What Are Cardless ATMs?

Cardless ATMs may have the traditional card reader that you're used to seeing, but they also have cardless transaction capabilities that can process cash withdrawals without you inserting your card.

Many major banks, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase and PNC, operate cardless ATMs. You can tell if an ATM can handle cardless transactions because there will be a contactless icon on it, similar to the one you tap at checkout for contactless payments.

How Cardless ATMs Work

Cardless ATM transactions can be completed in one of the following ways:

Use the Mobile Banking App

If you have your bank's mobile app, this can be a quick and easy process. First, log in to your mobile bank account on your phone and request a withdrawal or ATM access. Next, scan the QR code displayed on the ATM or enter the one-time access code that appears on your phone; you may have to enter your PIN as well. Authorize the withdrawal with your phone, and get your cash from the ATM.

Scan Your Digital Wallet

Open your digital wallet, select your debit card and hold your phone up to the cardless icon on the ATM machine. From there, use the ATM as you normally would and authorize the transaction by inputting your PIN.

Tap Your Debit Card

This isn't a completely cardless method, but you don't have to insert your card. Instead, tap your contactless-enabled debit card near the ATM's contactless symbol and enter your PIN to get money.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Cardless ATMs

Cardless ATMs can be a faster and more convenient way to take out cash when you need it. If you can use your phone for the transaction, you won't have to dig through your purse or wallet to get your debit card. And if you forget the card at home, you'll still have access to your cash as long as you've set up your mobile banking app or digital wallet.

As for the disadvantages of using cardless ATMs, it might not be an entirely contactless way to pay if you're thinking about using it for sanitary reasons—you might still have to type your PIN into the ATM. You may also be restricted to using the service at your own bank.

Are Cardless ATMs More Secure Than Traditional ATMs?

Cardless ATM transactions could be safer than traditional ATM transactions because you'll use your card less frequently, and that's less opportunity for your card to get left behind, lost or stolen.

Using a cardless payment method instead of inserting your card could also make you less likely to fall victim to card skimming and shimming scams. These scams involve adding devices to ATM or other card readers that steal your card information. Fraudsters may also set up cameras to try to steal your PIN.

In the event that a scammer needs more information to defraud you, they might turn to spoofing, which is when they pretend to call or email from your bank to get PINs or security codes.

Initiating ATM withdrawals using your digital wallet could potentially protect you since your card stays in your pocket and your digital wallet is typically safeguarded by passcodes or biometric identification.

If you're interested in making cardless ATM transactions, double-check that your debit card is a contactless-enabled one and find out from your bank what cardless ATM withdrawal options are available.