Cardless ATMs

A Complete Guide to Cardless ATMs

Have you ever needed to take money from an ATM but left your debit card at home? Now you can conduct transactions at ATMs without a debit card.

With cardless ATMs, you can use the bank app on your smartphone to conduct ATM transactions. They are a practical way to get cash from your account if you forget your debit card or would prefer not to visit the ATM as much as possible. And don’t worry, cardless ATMs include extra security measures to guarantee that your money remains secure even if your mobile device is lost.

Here is all the information you need regarding cardless ATMs, including how they operate and which banking institutions now provide them.

What Are Cardless ATMs? 

Cardless ATMs are exactly what you might be thinking: customers can access their money and conduct transactions at an ATM without using their debit cards. These ATMs don’t need cards; instead, they use various technological methods to validate your account, typically through a mobile app on your phone. With a cardless ATM, you have the same level of access as a traditional ATM, so you may use it to make withdrawals, check your balance, and carry out any other transactions.

The Process of Using Cardless ATMs

Cardless ATMs use various forms of technology to confirm your identification and grant access to your bank accounts. The following are some of the ways that cardless ATMs link your data to the ATM: 

Near-Field Communication (NFC)

With the help of the close-range technology known as Near-Field Communication (NFC), users may hold their mobile device up in front of a receiver and send data over a radio frequency within a short distance. If you use tap-to-pay technologies like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay, or a credit card with an NFC chip, you are already knowledgeable about NFC technology.

Simply hold up your mobile device to the NFC receiver on a cardless ATM that has been equipped with the technology when the banking or mobile wallet software is open. Following the machine’s confirmation that it has received your data, you can use the ATM as though your debit card had been inserted. 

QR Code

QR (Quick Response) codes are barcode-like codes that you may read using the camera on your mobile device. However, a QR code can convey more information than a barcode since it is designed with a more complicated layout.

The cardless ATM will create a QR code and display it on the screen for those equipped with QR code technology. You’ll next scan the code with your mobile banking app to confirm your identity. After the scan, your identity will be confirmed by the mobile banking app, and you can then finish the transaction. One bank that makes use of QR code technology with its cardless ATMs is BMO Harris Bank.

Verification Code

Verification codes give an extra level of protection to online logins by functioning similarly to two-factor authentication. The majority of your transactions will be made using your mobile banking app while using cardless ATMs with verification code technology.

You log in and select the type of transaction you wish to conduct inside the bank app (including withdrawals, deposits, and other banking functions). You will input your PIN and the app’s generated unique, one-time verification code into the ATM. After you complete your transaction, the verification code will no longer be valid and will typically expire after 30 minutes. 


Biometric technology uses physical features like fingerprints and facial recognition to authenticate your identity and grant access to your accounts. Although it may be used with banks and ATMs, smartphones and laptops are the most popular devices that use this authentication technology.

If your bank uses biometrics, you scan the required biometric data and submit it to the bank, which then saves it securely. Then, when you use a cardless ATM that requires biometric authentication, the device scans your iris, fingerprint, face, or palm print and compares it to the information that the bank has on file for you. It verifies your identity before allowing access to your money or other account features.

Are Cardless ATMs Secure?

Cardless ATM transactions ensure your money remains secure even if your mobile device is lost. Cardless ATMs primarily use NFC to transmit information between the customer’s payment device and the bank’s NFC-enabled terminal.

The information needed to conduct the transaction, including your account information and other details, is tokenized and transferred to the bank’s terminal when you tap your mobile device to pay. Since the data has been tokenized, it won’t include any of the crucial information about your bank accounts, such as your name, credit card number, or other personal information. Encryption will safeguard your card information while enabling payment authentication and processing.

Other services, like PayPal, include an application that generates a QR code that users may scan. Users must then enter the specified amount and card PIN into the app to complete the transaction. 

Pros and Cons of Cardless ATMs?

Even though there are many perks to utilizing a cardless ATM, like ease and security, there are also a number of drawbacks.

Here are some of the most important benefits and drawbacks of cardless ATMs:

Advantages of Using Cardless ATMs

Highlighted below are some of the benefits of performing cardless ATM transactions:

  • Access to multiple accounts. You’ll gain digital access to several bank accounts as more banks enable cardless ATM access. Cardless access makes it simple to swap debit cards via your mobile device if out-of-network ATM fees have been annoying you. When using a specific ATM, you can use a debit card associated with an in-network account to avoid excessive fees. 
  • Less physical contact. You’ll appreciate how cardless ATMs reduce contact if the pandemic has made you more conscious of the number of things you touch each day. While they don’t completely replace the necessity to use an ATM, they reduce the amount of time you spend using it. 
  • More secure. Cardless ATMs eliminate the security threats associated with traditional debit cards, such as skimmers, while incorporating extra layers of identity verification, such as QR codes, biometrics, and verification codes, to protect your account access.

Disadvantages of Using Cardless ATMs

You’ll often find that no device or software is built without having some kind of drawbacks to users. Here are some of the disadvantages of using cardless ATMs:

  • Stolen or lost mobile device. Use your phone’s security features, such as screen lock and remote data wipe capabilities, to safeguard your phone and help prevent unauthorized access if you lose contact with it. If you don’t have additional security protections enabled on your phone, thieves may be able to access your bank account if your phone is lost or stolen. 
  • Device compatibility. To use a cardless ATM, your phone needs to be compatible with the mobile app provided by your bank. Ask your bank what kinds of smartphones are compatible with their app.
  • Proliferation. Cardless ATMs are becoming more common, although they are not yet the norm. While utilizing the ATMs at your bank may allow you to use cardless access, you might still need to carry a card when visiting places where your bank doesn’t have physical branches in order to use other ATMs. 

Top Reasons Why Cardless ATMs Are Becoming Popular

A survey from states that 69% of banks and other financial institutions intend to introduce cardless ATMs or other mobile-ATM integration services in the next few years. The growth of these services is being driven primarily by two factors. 

  • Millennials: Millennials enjoy using mobile apps generally. Smartphones will be used to perform any task that can be performed on them. These younger generations prefer mobile payment systems but also like to carry cash (at least in the U.S.). Although a usual time saving is between ten and thirty seconds, millennials do not want to wait and prefer faster transactions like cardless ones.
  • Security: Since card skimming is automatically prevented with cardless ATMs, security is enhanced. The process of taking information from a card during an ATM transaction, or card skimming, is becoming more and more common. According to FICO, in the past year, skimming at ATMs on bank property climbed by 174%, while skimming at ATMs situated elsewhere increased by 315%. Thieves use a card skimmer hidden inside the bank’s card slot to access your information. They also use a hidden camera or a separate PIN pad overlay to get your PIN.

How to Start a Cardless ATM Transaction

The procedure for using a cardless ATM to access your accounts and perform transactions may vary slightly depending on the financial institution and its verification technologies. You can use a standard debit card, a contactless card, or your bank’s mobile app at a cardless ATM.

Depending on your method of access, you’ll need to perform the following at an ATM:

Incorporate a debit card into your mobile wallet

You can tap your phone against the contactless icon on the ATM at several large banks by opening your contactless card in your mobile wallet.

After that, you will enter your PIN to confirm your identification. You can use an ATM if your PIN is approved. 

Use a mobile banking app

You can utilize a mobile banking app at several cardless ATMs, including Mastercard. After signing in, locate the option that allows you to make ATM transactions on your mobile banking app.

Selecting the cardless ATM option on the ATM screen is the first step. Depending on where you bank, you’ll need to scan a QR code that will display on the ATM, or you’ll need to use a quick one-time code that you’ll get through your mobile app.

Your ATM transaction can be completed once your code has been approved and your identity has been confirmed. 

Use a debit card

You may also use a contactless or standard debit card. Insert the card if it’s a standard debit card. However, for a contactless debit card, you need to tap it against the bank’s contactless symbol to perform a transaction. After entering your PIN, you can begin using the ATM.

Financial Institution with Cardless ATM Access

Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay all work with Wells Fargo, Chase, and Bank of America. These banks’ cardless ATM apps are compatible with both iPhone and Android phones because they are designed to function with all three of these services. 

Cardless ATMs are now available in the networks of the following major banks:

  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo
  • Chase
  • PNC
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • BMO Harris Bank

Cardless ATMs might be available to financial institutions that permit fee-free transactions from Mastercard ATMs. You can check an ATM for a contactless tap icon to see if it supports cardless transactions.

Final Thoughts

Cardless ATMs can provide an additional level of access that fits your lifestyle if you value the convenience that mobile banking brings to your life. Hence, using cardless ATMs would probably be the best option for you if you constantly leave your home without cash or your wallet. Additionally, using a cardless ATM can reduce your chance of misplacing debit cards or stealing your wallet. Just make sure your phone has security protections enabled.

However, if you find technology to be more of a hassle than a help, you might choose to stay with the more conventional method of using a debit card to use an ATM.

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