You see automatic teller machines, or ATMs, just about anywhere you look in larger towns and cities. In many cases, they are in high-traffic areas where people who need access to fast cash are likely to be passing by. But many people often wonder exactly how much money is in an ATM and how much they can hold at one time.
The short answer is that your average ATM can hold up to $200,000 when completely full. However, most ATMs will only have between $5,000 and $25,000, particularly in off-peak hours. ATMs in locations that don't see frequent use may have as little as $2,000.
While the amount of money that is in an ATM seems like it can fluctuate wildly, and they do, there is much more to it. There are many different factors that can affect how much is in each one, and we're going to look into just what those factors are. We'll dig into just how much money is in an ATM, as well as what can affect that amount and where the ATMs with the most and least money are likely to be found.
How Much Money Is In An ATM Machine?
NCR is the largest manufacturer of ATMs in the US and will more often than not be the brand of the ATM that you end up using. They make two primary classes of ATMs, those with removable cassettes and those with fixed cassettes. Each one has a different maximum amount that they can possibly hold and is frequently used in different settings. The cassettes are the portion of the ATM that safely holds the cash meant to be dispensed.
ATMs with fixed cassettes will have a lower capacity and are generally meant for locations that see a lower average daily and monthly volume. They will often be located in retail or convenience locations and will be filled with lower total amounts, generally featuring additional fees as well. Fixed cassette ATMs will usually only have a few hundred to a few thousand dollars at once, and depending on the location, they will be unloaded at the end of the day and reloaded in the morning to reduce the possibility and temptation of theft.
ATMs in larger or more highly-trafficked locations will have multiple removable cassettes, with each cassette holding roughly 2,000 new, crisp, flat bills. If the bills have been used previously and cannot be compressed as much, their total capacity may be reduced to as few as 1,500 bills. In most cases, the cassettes are only loaded with $20 bills, though in some cases, they may feature $10s or even $5s.
Since there is a limited amount of space in each cassette, filling them with anything less than $20 bills will reduce the ATMs' total capacity. With 4 removable cassettes that can each hold 2,000 or more new bills, an ATM full of $20s can potentially have $180,000 to $200,000 in it when full. ATMs like that will generally only be encountered in busy metropolitan areas or as ATMs located in a bank branch.
How Much Money Is Kept In An ATM?
How much money is kept in an ATM is generally dependent on not only how busy an area it's in but also the monthly transaction volume, as well as the average withdrawal amount. This means that machines in a bank branch that have 24-hour secure access to fee-free withdrawals for their customers will always have significantly more than locations in less-popular locations or locations that charge fees to use their ATMs.
The money kept in the ATM will depend on where it is and the security risks of that location. ATMs at banks, for example, will not have their cash taken out each night, whereas ATMs in locations with higher theft risk will likely not have much cash kept in them during off-hours or when the business is closed.
How Much Money Does A Gas Station ATM Hold?
An ATM located in a gas station may have anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. Retail locations like gas stations and convenience stores are generally much less popular for ATM usage and, as a result, will have a far lower monthly transaction volume.
Additionally, the average withdrawal amount for machines in those locations tends to be lower since people are using them as a convenience. They are generally used because they are the closest option to get cash quickly, and people would rather get what they can, where they can, even if it means paying a fee for the withdrawal and having more limited access to their funds.
Who Refills The ATMs?
There are only a few options for who will actually be able, as well as responsible, to fill the ATM. The most common options are an associated bank that provides ATM refilling as a service or as part of the agreement for having their ATM on the premises. Alternatively, the business owner where the ATM is located, or the owner of the ATM, may be responsible. One final option is that either the banks or the owner of the machine or the property where it's located can hire the service out to a third-party provider.
The party responsible for putting money in ATMs will vary significantly depending on where the ATM is and who ultimately owns the machine, as well as how often that particular machine needs to be refilled. ATMs located in bank branches, for example, are filled by the bank personnel themselves. This is also sometimes done with a third-party service, particularly with bank ATMs that are positioned as stand-alone machines.
The ATM Owner Or Business Owner
Standalone ATMs have several different options for getting refilled depending on who owns the physical machine as well as where it's physically located. If an ATM is physically located inside a business and that business is the machine's owner, there are a few parties that may be responsible for maintaining the ATM and keeping it full.
The owner of the ATM has the option of performing the refill themselves, which will generally offer more hassle on the owner's part but can lead to enhanced profits. The reason for the increase in potential profits is that there doesn't have to be any additional expense associated with outsourcing the ATM refills to a bank or third-party servicer.
One of the drawbacks to the business owner doing it themselves, however, is that they need to have the cash available to physically fill the machine when needed. This means they need to have a considerable amount of cash on hand, which isn't feasible for many business owners.
Another option available in many areas is to hire a company that offers ATM service to come to refill it as needed. In many cases, they will be able to monitor not only the daily and monthly transaction volume but will be able to adjust the refills to lower the number of trips per month and reduce the number of potentially declined withdrawals due to the ATM being out of money. These third-party companies will usually charge a per-trip fee, as well as the value of the bills they are using.
How Often Do ATMs Get Refilled?
The rate at which ATMs are refilled will depend on several variables. It will depend on the overall capacity of the machine primarily, as well as the average number of customers per day and the average withdrawal amount for those customers.
Locations that see dozens or even hundreds of customers in a day, each wanting significant withdrawals, will generally need to be filled at least once every 24-48 hours. These often include locations in high-traffic urban areas, near casinos, and other areas where customers need constant access to significant amounts of cash.
ATMs at locations like convenience stores, drug stores, and similar locations may see one or two dozen ATM customers per day, with each may getting an average of $60 or so. These locations may only need their ATM filled once a week or even once every 2-4 weeks if they are exceptionally unpopular locations.
What Is The ATM Withdrawal Limit?
Multiple limits will dictate how much you can take from an ATM. These limitations include:
- Individual ATM withdrawal limits
- Bank account ATM withdrawal limits
- Daily debit card or credit card withdrawal limits
- Weekly debit card or credit card withdrawal limits
- The amount of money left in the ATM
Knowing How Much Money Is In An ATM Can Be Fascinating Information
Knowing how much money is in an ATM, depending on where it is and how busy the area is, can help you get a good idea of whether or not it will have the amount you need to withdraw. Aside from that, it's simply interesting information about machines that we tend to see in our daily lives but always seem to take for granted.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.