Automatic Teller Machines, from Life in the USA: The Complete Guide for Immigrants and Americans

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Life in the USA
Personal Finance
Banks

Automatic Teller Machines
More and more, banks are offering automated teller machines (ATM's). These might be at your bank's branch, but the bank may also be a member of a network that will allow you to take money out or do certain transactions at hundreds of different machines at different banks. Some machines allow you to “drive-in” and use them without getting out of your car. If the small savings bank that pays interest on no-fee checking is part of one of these networks, you'll have an ideal banking arrangement. Depending upon your bank and local regulations, you might pay a small fee for using an ATM.

You will be given a plastic bank card and a secret access code number. You will place the card into the slot in the ATM then press in the access code numbers. The machine will only give you money if it matches the data from the card with the proper access code number. It is therefore very important to memorize your code number, or at least to keep it written down in a place separate from the bank card. If your bank card is stolen, the thief will not be able to use it to withdraw money from the ATM without the code number.

Use common sense when withdrawing money at night, since people using ATM's are an obvious target for muggers. For best results and minimal confusion, press the buttons slowly and carefully.

You will also be able to use these machines (worldwide) to take advances from your credit cards. For any kind of cash withdrawal, there will be a daily or per-transaction withdrawal limit, and, of course, if you have no money left in your account, or if you have exceeded your credit card's credit limit, you'll come up empty.


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