How ATMs Work – Starting an ATM Business


I’ve been in the ATM business for nearly two decades and have cracked the code of how ATMs work as a business. There is no magic elixir, but there are several pitfalls and traps to avoid if you work with an experienced ATM company. It’s very similar to a vending business, with the main difference being that this vending machine accepts cash and follows banking regulations. The only currency available is twenty dollar bills.

The ATM industry is straightforward. Let’s take a look at everything.

You have some hardware (The ATM Machine).
A good location (retail store, parking lot, restaurant, condo complex, office building, hospital, medical building, airport, etc.) is required.
It would be best to replenish the ATM with cash (yourself, the location manager, or an armored car company).
You need a reputable ATM Company (they have contracts with an ATM processor, and a sponsoring bank, move your money between banks, provide statements, and provide online reporting). Some also offer technical support.
You must have your bank account into which funds are deposited if you load cash.
The income is generated by the surcharge (the fee customers pay to use the ATM), a portion of the interchange (the fee banks must pay the network and processor), and some network fees. This is slightly more than the surcharge (we’ll explain later, or you can skip to the bottom).
Many ATM companies try to make it appear difficult, but it should be a simple process if you’ve been doing it for a while. ATM companies that claim to sell or find ATM locations and convince you to invest in them are most likely scams.

If I discovered a good location for an ATM, why would I offer it to someone else when I could put my ATM in there and make a profit? There are a few reasons for this. Perhaps I’m out of state and need someone locally; that’s a good reason. However, if I lived nearby, I would never get rid of a good spot unless I exited the business or sold a route.

Knowing the rules, gathering all the facts, and crunching all the numbers can ensure that if you invest in ATMs, you’ll be making a wise investment and a good business decision. As with any business, you want to know how much money you need to invest and the expected return. This is the return on investment. How long will it take, and will the income be higher than other instruments? Is the ROI better than keeping the money in a regular savings account at the bank? Nowadays, almost anything pays more than a savings account. It’s all about location, location, just like in real estate.

If you choose the wrong ATM company to help you navigate the waters, the costs can quickly increase, reducing your ROI.

The ATM (Automated Teller Machine). A critical component of your business. Purchasing the incorrect machine, an outdated machine (out of compliance), or failing to obtain a device from one of the top three manufacturers (Triton, Tranax, Hyosung) can be a nightmare. What is the best option for your needs: freestanding, through-the-wall, or kiosk?

The Address: Another critical factor in ensuring your success is determining how many people visit your chosen location. Are credit cards accepted? Is it a cash-only operation? What are the other critical questions? An experienced ATM company can assist you in answering all of these questions and more to determine if the location has good potential.

Who loads cash: The ATM owner and the cash loader typically split most of the ATM revenue. So, if you intend to own the ATM and load it yourself, you will undoubtedly keep most of the revenue. Aside from the cost of the space (you may rent it, sign a placement agreement for a portion of the income, etc.). Numerous types of transactions can be made. Armored car service is only viable if the ATM performs admirably (over 500 transactions monthly). Armored car service is expensive and usually prohibitively expensive for retail ATM machines.

A reputable ATM company will assist you with all of the above information. Still, more importantly, they should help you with ordering your ATM and arranging for delivery, installation, training, and programming to ensure reliable and secure cash transactions.

A good ATM company should also offer toll-free technical support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many ATM companies do not provide this service. However, they appear to be a good deal because they offer an unusually high rebate. What good is a significant rebate if your machine has an error code, problem, or issue you can’t resolve because you don’t have anyone to call for assistance? Or, when you do call, no one ever answers. When needing service, the extra few pennies you can earn from some ATM companies can cost you hundreds of dollars. Don’t be a penny-wise and pound-foolish person.

What is the best way to make money with ATMs?

Your ATM charges the cardholder a fee (known as a surcharge or convenience fee), which you, the ATM owner, set. Depending on the ATM company you choose, you may receive the majority or all of this fee and a portion of the interchange. The interchange is a small fee banks pay to ATM networks for connecting the cardholder to the bank.

There are numerous variations and offers comparable to credit card processing. An honest ATM company will give you 100% of the surcharge and, depending on the number of transactions your ATM performs or the size of your ATM portfolio (if you have multiple machines), they will give you up to $0.15 of the interchange.

To manage your ATMs, ensure the ATM company provides 365-day toll-free tech support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They should also provide you with monthly statements and free online access to your ATM. Other advantages of using a reputable ATM company include no monthly minimums, monthly or account fees. Small, inexperienced ATM companies that cannot achieve economies of scale may charge for services, whereas others do not. Let the buyer beware, Caveat Emptor!

Do you want to learn more about the ATM industry? Check out the links in the author’s resource box listed below.

Noah Wieder is the President and CEO of Intelligent eCommerce, Inc., and the Founder of, a professional ATM Company that offers a wealth of information and resources on everything you need to know about ATM Machines and the ATM Machine Business.

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