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Diatribe: Do We Really Need ATMs That Give Exact Change?

01/22/2013

atm-servicesNot too long ago, I predicted the demise of ATM machines within the next few years.  As the use of debit cards increases around the world, the availability of “cash back” options has also increased.  It used to be impossible to get cash after normal banking hours.  I remember, when I was in college, seeing my first ATM.  It was in the student center and there was always a line to use it.  It frequently ran out of cash so, once it had been serviced, students would line up around it to take out twenty dollars for a small fee.

But, nowadays, you can get cash back at just about any retailer that accepts debit cards.  And, usually, there is no fee involved.  I usually get cash back at the grocery store where they don’t charge a fee instead of hunting for an ATM.  I find it to be much more convenient and safe.

Chase and PNC recently announced that they’re in the process of deploying a new generation of ATMs that, among other features, will let you take out bills as low as $1 and $5 and Chase’s machines will even give out coins.  The new ATMs will be more like full-service kiosks that will take the place of traditional tellers.  These new “Self-Service Tellers” will allow customers to perform the majority of current transactions by themselves and at their convenience.

The ability to cash checks, for example, will require the ATMs to give out exact change to the penny.  Apparently, the use of these machines will allow for bank branches to be staffed more efficiently and could help to keep costs down.  Of course, while the new machines will still charge fees, there will be more of them and each will be able to provide more services.  Chase has installed about four hundred of the new machines in the past eighteen months and PNC has upgraded over 3,600 to dispense one- and five-dollar bills.  Both banks are expected to double those numbers by the end of the year.

I very rarely use an ATM.  When I do, it’s usually to make a deposit and not a withdrawal, it’s never at a machine that charges a fee and it’s always in broad daylight.  Personally, with automatic deposit, online bill pay and my debit card, I rarely find myself carrying cash at all.

I think ATM users should enjoy these new machines while they can because I predict that they’ll become extinct rather quickly.  ATMs on college campuses, however, will probably be the last to go.

What do you think?  Do you use ATMs?  Will they become obsolete any time soon?

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7 Comments
  1. I’m a dinosaur who has never used a debit card or an ATM.

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  2. I think your last voting bullet sums it up. Banks need to serve the customer in the manner which is most comfortable. I pay 98% of my bills online and move money around all the time. Yet, there are times when cash in pocket gives comfort. Others like going into the branch and someone said most new accounts are still opened in the branch. I do agree there will be a capping out on ATMs, then retrenchment, but I don’t see them going away.Thanks for the post, BTG

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  3. I’d love to see their demise. They charge you if you park in front of the bank these days. $1 for this; $1 for that. I’m ready to go to a mattress.

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  4. About a year ago, I found myself walking around without even so much as a quarter in my pocket for over a week. I realized then I had very little need of money. For the last 7 months I have had $40 in my pocket which my hubby gave me 7 months ago. I have not spent a penny of it. I don’t even think to reach for cash anymore.

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  5. I always use an ATM, as they are very convenient. I do not think ATMs will vanish so fast, rather latest technologies are being used in ATMs. Good to hear that some banks are innovating new ideas to cater to the needs of consumers effectively.

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