Cardless ATM Withdrawal: What It Is and How It Works

By Sheryl Nance-Nash · May 20, 2024 · 8 minute read

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Cardless ATM Withdrawal: What It Is and How It Works

A cardless ATM allows you to withdraw cash from your bank account without using a debit card. While these ATMs may look like regular ATMs and still have a slot to insert a debit card, they have the technology to identify an account holder without a debit card. To get cash without a debit card, you generally need a smartphone, the bank’s app, and a checking account that supports cardless cash.

Key Points

•   Cardless ATMs allow cash withdrawals without a debit card, using a smartphone and the bank’s app.

•   These ATMs may use QR codes, NFC, or biometrics for user identification.

•   Users can schedule withdrawals in advance through their bank’s app, enhancing convenience.

•   Cardless transactions offer the same options and rules as traditional card-based ones, including withdrawal limits.

•   The technology provides increased convenience and security but requires access to compatible ATMs and possibly a newer smartphone.

What Is a Cardless ATM?

A cardless ATM is similar to a regular ATM except it allows you to withdraw cash without using a debit card. You can do the same things you can with a card, like get cash and find out your account balance. Cardless ATMs display a distinctive contactless sticker, to make them easy to identify. Otherwise they look and perform like regular ATMs.

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What Is a Cardless Withdrawal?

Thanks to technology, you can often withdraw money from an ATM without a debit card and instead use your cell phone. This is good news for those who don’t like to carry around cards or would rather not have to search through their wallets to find the right card when they get to an ATM.

Cardless withdrawal allows you to use an app to get your cash. Cardless ATMs use different types of technology (such as QR codes, NFC, and biometrics) to securely identify an account holder and dispense their cash without the presence of a debit card. Below, we’ll take a closer look at how exactly this works.

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How a Cardless ATM Withdrawal Works

How to do a cardless withdrawal? First, you’ll need an ATM that has cardless access and a bank account that allows cardless cash. Then, you’ll follow these steps.

Withdrawals With a Cardless ATM App

With your phone, you initiate a withdrawal using your bank’s mobile app. There’s variation in how these apps work: The bank may send you a code to plug into the ATM or one that you can scan at the ATM. Either way, you need to press the cardless ATM acceptance mark. You’ll then be prompted to enter a code or scan the QR code on the ATM screen.

Next, you’ll see if any ATM fees are associated with the transaction. Then, you can accept and authenticate the transaction (which may involve using your phone’s biometrics, which are typically, fingerprints, voice recognition, iris scanning, or face recognition). You can also choose to decline and cancel the transaction. If you move ahead, the ATM receives authorization of the transaction and issues the cash you requested — no card needed.

Another option is to use a contactless payment or digital wallet option like Samsung Pay, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. If you use one of these payment providers, they will likely use near-field communication (NFC). In this situation, you’ll hold your phone close to the ATM so your phone and the ATM can “talk” to each other. You’ll then be able to access the bank account linked to the app.

Scheduling a Cardless ATM Withdrawal in Advance

Many of us enjoy using apps to complete a mobile order and then have it waiting when we zip past the pickup spot. Think about how you might buy an espresso at the cafe in your office lobby while you’re commuting in to work, order a salad at lunchtime and then snag it after running an errand, or refill a prescription so it’s ready as you head home.

Guess what? Depending on your bank, you may be able to schedule a withdrawal in advance through your bank’s mobile app. You choose how much you want to take out before you get to the ATM. Once you schedule your withdrawal, you typically have 24 hours to retrieve it. It makes the whole process that much quicker.

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Understanding the Cardless ATM Withdrawal Rules

You can access the same options for transactions with a cardless ATM as you would if you had a physical card, and the rules are similar. For example, if you have withdrawal limits for ATM use with a debit card, those same limits would be applicable for a cardless transaction.

Always be mindful of ATM withdrawal limits. They vary at each bank, with some capping at $300 and others as high as $5,000 a day. Your ATM withdrawal limit can also vary depending on your banking history or account type. For example, a new customer with a basic checking account may have a lower withdrawal limit than an established customer with a premium checking account.

Pros of a Cardless Cash Withdrawal

For sure, there are some upsides to being able to get cash without your debit card. Here are some to consider.


It’s handy to be able to get your cash and conduct other transactions without your debit card. As long as you have your phone, you’re good to go. No need to make a trip back home if you discover when you get to the bank that you left your card at home. Cardless cash also allows you to carry around fewer cards. That can be helpful should you lose your wallet or it gets stolen.

Simplicity and Savings

With cardless ATMs, you can have access to all your bank accounts at multiple financial institutions. Say you have two different bank accounts, and the card you need for one is at home. No worries. Your phone will unlock your banking for you.

Also, if you’re not near an in-network ATM for the card you have on you, you can use a different account and avoid an out-of-network ATM fee.

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Less Contact

In these times when there are still some concerns about COVID-19 and germs in general, not having to insert your card into an ATM is a plus. Less touching of surfaces that have seen a lot of potentially germy fingertips can be a good way to go.


You may sleep easier at night because there’s no chance of card skimming since you’re not swiping your card. What’s more, you may be able to avoid entering your PIN. That’s a plus since you don’t have to worry about hidden cameras or lurkers getting your digits.

Cons of a Cardless Cash Withdrawal

Carldess cash withdrawals also have some downsides. Here’s a closer look.


Not every ATM has cardless capabilities, and your bank may not have cardless ATMs that are convenient to where you live or work. Before you decide to go the cardless route, you’ll want to investigate what your financial institution offers in terms of cardless ATM access. Also, if you travel frequently, you may not always be able to find a cardless ATM when you need one. While cardless ATMs aren’t rare, they also aren’t everywhere.

Potential for Scams

Your phone will contain additional sensitive information if you go the cardless route. If you lose your phone or it is stolen, that information could be at risk. While there are plenty of safeguards and security measures, like biometric security and two-factor authentication, you’ll want to report a lost or stolen phone to your bank immediately.

May Need a Phone Upgrade

Are you one of those people who stand in long lines for the latest, greatest smartphone release? You’re probably If you regularly upgrade your phone to the latest model, you’re probably going to do fine with cardless withdrawals. But if you tend to hold onto your phone for a long time, you may need an upgrade that can handle your bank’s app and NFC, when required. Otherwise, your device may not be capable of cardless transactions.

Pros of Cardless Withdrawals

Cons of Cardless Withdrawals

Convenience Need a cardless ATM
Simplicity and savings Potential for scams
Less ontact May need a newer phone

The Takeaway

Cardless withdrawals are another way technology can help simplify your finances. All you need to access the cash in your checking or savings account is a smartphone, your bank’s app, and an ATM — no debit card required.

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Do banks do cardless withdrawals?

Yes. Some ATMs offer cardless withdrawals. Cardless ATM machines look like any other ATM but allow you to get cash even if you don’t have a debit card. You just use your smartphone and banking app. To find a cardless ATM, look for the contactless sticker.

How do I use a cardless ATM?

You begin a cardless withdrawal by using your bank’s mobile app. Depending on the particular app and bank network, your transaction may involve entering a PIN, scanning a QR code, and/or implementing biometrics (such as fingerprints, voice recognition, iris scanning, or face recognition) to initiate your transaction. You can then receive your funds.

If you use a payment provider like Apple Pay, which uses near-field communication (NFC), you’ll hold your phone close to the ATM and access the bank account linked to the app.

Can I withdraw money without an ATM card?

Yes. Many ATMs and checking accounts allow cardless withdrawal, which means you can get cash without a debit card. You just use your smartphone and your banking app to access your account. You can also complete any other tasks that you would do at a typical ATM.

Photo credit: iStock/hsyncoban

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