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How to Make Money with an ATM

Updated on July 7, 2018

Purchasing an ATM is an outstanding way to make passive income. Beyond the initial setup and occasional maintenance, very little work is needed to earn money. There are some considerations, however. Location is key, maintenance may be needed, and the type and style of machine can vary depending on its intended use.

How does an ATM make money?

ATMs make money in a variety of ways. The most common is the ATM surcharge. An ATM owner is able to charge users because they are providing a service that spares the inconvenience of going to a bank or bank-operated ATM. The ATM owner can set their own surcharge fee. The average surcharge fee is between $2.00-3.00. An ATM with a $2.50 fee, used four times daily for a month, can bring in $300 per month and $3,600 per year.

ATMs make a smaller amount of money through interchange fees. Each time a machine is used, a banking fee is charged. Part of this fee is shared with the ATM owner, amounting to $0.05 to $0.15 per transaction. In the above scenario, it would bring nearly $150 extra to gross receipts.

Finally, some ATMs can make additional money by offering on-screen advertising to customers as they wait for their cash to be dispensed.

The best location for an ATM

Two key factors determine the best location for a profitable ATM: foot traffic and need for money.

Malls, shopping centers and busy sidewalks near entertainment areas are common placement locations for ATMs. ATM owners will often work with local convenience store owners, who want customers to pay cash. Places in which credit cards are not accepted - small restaurants, bars and flea markets- are ideal. It is estimated that 3-5% of people who see an ATM will use it.

Some infrastructure is also needed to operate an ATM, though this is becoming less of a factor. A power connection is required, but ATM distributors are often able to work with owners in how the ATM connects to the financial network. A phone line can still be used, as can an internet connection, but many manufacturers offer built-in wireless cellular connections that are swiftly becoming the norm.

At a minimum, the location should be well-lit, close to a power source, away from windows. The ATM should be in a place where it can be professionally secured to the floor.

Types of ATMs

Numerous companies sell and distribute ATMs. A distributor can help purchasers decide which unit works best in a particular location. For example, an indoor non-armored ATM in a highly visible area may cost less than an outdoor machine, but an armored outdoor machine may be better-suited to after-hours foot traffic.

What is perhaps the most important factor for success with an ATM?

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Final considerations before buying an ATM

An ATM can cost several thousand dollars upfront, depending on make, model and style. Filling the machine for the first time may cost several thousand dollars more.

ATM companies can work with customers if these start-up costs seem too high. For a percentage of the profits, companies can lease, install and maintain ATM machines. Leasing a machine can be a great way to limit liability, learn how the business works and avoid a huge cash investment upfront. Similarly, vault cash service providers can refill the machines and handle accounting for a fee, if the cost of filling the machine seems too great at first.

Many ATM owners focus on growing their ATM businesses, using the profits of one machine to buy or lease a second or third. With careful mapping of pedestrian routes and high foot-traffic areas, a string of ATMs can bring in thousands of dollars per month.

In summary, an ATM is a very attractive investment for a businessperson who wishes to make income with very little work. All that is required is an initial investment, which can be negotiable with most ATM providers, and minimal maintenance. The critical factor is location - more foot traffic and more need for cash equals more use and more revenue.


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