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A Guide to Cardless ATMs

 A Guide to Cardless ATMs
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarcoUpdated June 8, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
Cardless ATMs are just what they sound like: ATMS that can be used without inserting a card. For people who use them, cardless ATMs help limit the number of times you need to touch the ATM while lessening opportunities for fraudWith a cardless ATM (automated teller machine), it’s possible for you to withdraw cash at an ATM without ever inserting a debit card into the machine. Let’s take a closer look at what they are and how to withdraw money without a debit card — as well as the benefits and disadvantages of this high-tech option. 

What Is a Cardless ATM?

It is possible to do an ATM withdrawal without cards thanks to cardless ATMs. Cardless ATMs are normal ATM machines offered by major banks but they also give users the ability to do a cardless ATM withdrawal.An ATM that makes a cardless ATM withdrawal possible typically has a contactless icon on it. With these ATMs, it’s possible to withdraw cash from the machine without the user having to even take their debit card out of their wallet.

How to Use a Cardless ATM

Not sure how to withdraw money without an ATM card? The process is pretty straightforward with a cardless ATM.
  • Step 1. Open the bank’s mobile app. It’s often possible to start the process of withdrawing money from a cardless ATM by logging into the bank’s mobile app and then requesting either ATM access or a withdrawal. 
  • Step 2. Make the request. After that, a QR code will display on the ATM screen and that can be scanned with the phone. Or a one-time access code will appear that can be entered into the app. 
  • Step 3. Authorize the transaction. Next, the user needs to authorize the withdrawal on their phone and then they can get cash from the machine.
Instead of using a bank’s mobile app, it may be possible to follow a similar process using the digital wallet on a smartphone. Recommended: ATM Card vs. Debit Card: How Do They Compare?

Withdrawing Money From a Cardless ATM

It’s fairly easy to figure out how to use cardless ATMs, but this process can vary by the financial institution hosting the ATM. It’s important to follow the process in place at the specific ATM being used. Generally, the account holder needs to open their bank app. From there, they will choose the account they want to withdraw money from. Then they can scan the QR code or enter the code prompted by the ATM so they can verify the transaction in the app. From there, they will be able to receive their cash withdrawal.Unfortunately, just because someone has a checking account and debit card, doesn’t mean they can make a cardless ATM withdrawal. Before pursuing a cardless ATM withdrawal, it’s also important to confirm that the debit card attached to the bank account someone wants to withdraw cash from is actually contactless-enabled. The bank can confirm what options an account holder has for cardless ATM transactions.

Advantages of Cardless ATMs

Considering using a cardless ATM to withdraw cash? There are some major advantages of using a cardless ATM instead of following the more traditional process of withdrawing cash.

Speed and convenience

Often, the process of using a cardless ATM is faster and more convenient. Using an app to make the withdrawal request is simple and straightforward and even if someone doesn’t have their ATM card on their person, they can still make the transaction happen.


Using a debit card less frequently lessens the opportunity for the consumer to lose their card or have it stolen. It’s fairly common to forget to take a debit card back after inserting it into an ATM. Not entering a physical debit card into an ATM also lessens the chances of experiencing a card skimming scan.

Less contact

Want to skip the germs? There is less screen touching involved during a cashless ATM withdrawal. While it’s still necessary to touch the screen to complete the transaction and possibly the pin pad, much less touching occurs which helps mitigate the spread of germs.

Disadvantages of Cardless ATMs

There are also some disadvantages of cardless ATMs that are worth keeping in mind before using one.

Not Entirely Contactless

If someone is looking for a fully contactless experience, they can’t get it at a cashless ATM as it’s still necessary to touch the screen (although this is done less) and entering a PIN may be necessary.

Lack of Accessibility

Cardless ATMs are not super widespread at this point which means it can be hard to track one down while on the go or when living in smaller towns. If someone knows they will need to withdraw cash from an ATM, they shouldn’t rely on being able to find a cardless ATM unless they already know where one is located that works with their bank’s mobile app. It’s best to bring a debit card with them as a backup. 

Lack of Tech Compatibility

There is no guarantee a user’s phone will be compatible with the bank’s mobile app or the technology that operates the ATM cardless withdrawal system. It’s a good idea to have the app downloaded in advance to avoid delays while at the ATM. If the user’s smartphone can’t accommodate the bank’s mobile app, then they need to use the traditional method to withdraw cash.Recommended: 10 Key Benefits of a Savings Account

The Takeaway

Cardless ATMs offer a convenient and safe way to withdraw cash from an ATM, while limiting physical contact with the machine. This cardless functionality also makes it possible to withdraw cash if someone forgot their debit card. That being said, this newer technology isn’t widespread, and it can be hard to find an ATM with cardless functionality. It is also necessary to have access to the bank’s mobile app to use an ATM without a debit card. To help streamline the cardless ATM experience, it’s a good idea to download the app in advance and practice logging in. The last thing anyone wants is to be the person holding up the ATM line.When it comes to banking, sometimes it’s time for a refresh. Looking for a new savings account? With Lantern, you can compare savings accounts, looking at minimum balance requirements, fees, and interest rates all in one place. Compare online savings accounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use my phone to withdraw money from an ATM?
Do all banks have cardless ATMs?
How can I get cardless cash without a card?
Photo credit: iStock/martin-dm

About the Author

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco is a personal finance writer and editor based in Southern California. While she spends the bulk of her time writing about complex financial issues, she also tackles a variety of subjects ranging from food to fashion to travel. Her work can be found across dozens of publications such as Credit Karma, LendingTree, Northwestern Mutual, The Everygirl, and Apartment Therapy.
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