How to Apply for an ATM Card

Some banks charge a fee to withdraw cash at an ATM not in their network.

An automatic teller machine (ATM) card is a type of debit card. Although it looks similar to a credit card, ATM cards don't have a credit card logo. Instead, ATM cards contain the issuing institution's logo, and you can only use them with a personal identification number (PIN). The benefits of using an ATM card are numerous. For instance, you can make a deposit, transfer funds, withdraw cash and make purchases. The number of retailers that accept ATM card payments is increasing. However, to enjoy the benefits, you first need to apply for an ATM card.

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Step 1

Contact your bank or credit union. You can log on to the institution's website, call by phone or visit a local branch.

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Step 2

Request an ATM card. Contact your institution in person or by phone and make sure the associate helping you understands that you want an ATM card and not a credit card.

Step 3

Verify your identity. ATM cards are directly tied to your bank account. Any pin-based transactions are instantly debited from the funds in the account. You'll need to prove that you're the account holder. Expect to provide the exact name that appears on the account, your address and the last four digits of your Social Security number.

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Step 4

Wait about 10 days for the card to arrive in the mail.

Step 5

Activate your ATM card. As soon as you receive it, call the number on the back of the card. Calling from your home number, if it's the same number as the one on the account, will automatically activate the card.

Step 6

Keep the assigned PIN or create a new one. If you prefer to assign the card a different PIN, log on to the institution's website and make your change online. Another option is to visit your local branch and inform the teller that you need to change your PIN.

Tip

Thieves can't use your ATM card unless they have your PIN.

One disadvantage of ATM cards is that you can't make online purchases, as you would need to enter your PIN.

Your bank or credit union will generally issue a combined ATM and check card if you request one. This type of debit card contains a credit card logo and can be used as a check card or as an ATM card. When paying for a purchase at a point-of-purchase terminal, you choose “credit” or “debit.” Debit, or ATM transactions, require your PIN, while choosing credit requires that you sign a transaction slip. Both type of transactions are deducted from your checking account instantly.

Warning

Make sure a retailer is set up for point-of-sale (POS) transactions before using your ATM card to make a purchase. Otherwise, the system will refuse the card.

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