How to Start an ATM Business in 5 Steps

If you’d like to make a little extra money on the side or want to transition out of your 9-5 job, you might want to know how to start an ATM business. In just 5 steps, you can own and operate an ATM machine that brings in passive income almost immediately.

You don’t need a business license or any specific entrepreneurial training or experience to start an ATM business. Just complete the required documentation, select your ATM machine type, find a location, set a surcharge, and start making a profit. Here, we’ll tell you how to start an ATM business today!

Step 1: Get Compliant with Paperwork

When starting an ATM business, you have to complete the required documentation. The following forms and documentation are necessary in order to even get your machine. This proves that you are qualified to operate an ATM machine and helps set you up for success. This process is designed to make purchasing and operating an ATM machine seamless.

Required Documentation

Your ATM processor will require an equipment order form. This is where you choose the equipment you want and indicate whether you or someone else will handle installation. You will also need to document what your surcharge will be (see below) and what denominations your ATM will dispense.

Next is the ACH form so that your revenue can be deposited into your bank account! Your driver’s license is required to prove your identity and pass a background check. You cannot run an ATM business if you have been found guilty of a felony or financial crime.

A voided business check verifies the legitimacy of your linked bank account. For the purposes of running an ATM business, the account must be a checking account, not a savings account.

The ATM Operator Agreement and application tells banking partners who they are working with and ensures all federal regulations are met. You will need to complete and submit a W-9 form as well. Since you will be making money from your ATM machine, you’ll need to document your earnings for tax purposes.

Finally is the ATM processing agreement. This document lists your rights and obligations as the ATM owner as well as the rights and obligations of the ATM processor. It’s the legal contract between you and the ATM processor that runs your ATM machine program. This agreement also ensures you receive your payment as agreed upon.

Other Applicable Documentation

You may or may not need to complete these forms. They don’t apply in all situations. For example, a business license and permit might only be necessary if your local government requires it. Otherwise, you can register as a sole proprietor under a “doing business as” business name.

A placement agreement, or site location agreement (SLA), would only be necessary if you are planning to install your ATM machine in a location that was owned by someone else. This document serves as a contract between you and that third party and outlines each party’s responsibilities and share of the revenue.

Like all insurance, ATM insurance is completely optional. You can opt to purchase it and account for the cost when calculating your potential profit after operation costs. Or you can test your luck without it. Kind of a gamble here, but if you work with an insurance company that is associated with the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA), they can guide you toward a policy that meets your specific needs.

Last is the wireless agreement. This allows the ATM processor to send you a wireless modem which converts your signal from Internet to cellular and speeds up your connection. Again, this is optional and can be done on your own timeline.

Step 2: Select ATM Type

When choosing ATM equipment, there are three necessary decisions you have to make: ATM type, manufacturer and model, and new or refurbished. 

ATM Type

You have a lot of options when it comes to choosing ATM equipment. First you must decide the ATM type. There are free-standing, through-the-wall (TTW), and wall mount ATM machines.

Free-standing ATMs offer the most flexibility when it comes to placement. They can be installed anywhere there is a power source. They have a small footprint which is helpful when planning around available floor space in a store.

TTW ATMs are bulkier but more secure because the interface, the back of the machine, is secured within the wall extending into the next room. This can make accessing the machine to replace currency a little safer.

Wall mount ATMs can be mounted to a wall, table, or countertop. This can be convenient if your location doesn’t have a lot of extra space available. This is also a more practical choice for small businesses and low-traffic locations.

Manufacturers and Equipment Options

Two of the most popular ATM manufacturers are Hyosung and Genmega. Both produce high-quality, reliable equipment. ATM Depot also offers the full lines of Triton and Hantle (Tranax) machines.

Each of these market-leading manufacturers produces sturdy ATM equipment that lasts upwards of ten years. Just remember that pricing will vary based on the manufacturing company, machine type, and features. You can get more information about manufacturer and equipment options in our ATM Buyers Guide.

New vs. Refurbished

You also have the option of purchasing your ATM machine new or refurbished. New machines are recommended for first-time independent ATM deployers (IADs) who are just starting an ATM business. The new technology informed by feedback from IADs and users makes new ATM machines easier to use.

However, purchasing a refurbished machine could save you some money and therefore speed up your ROI and increase your profit. It’s also better for the environment to reuse electronic equipment rather than having it sent to the landfill.

Step 3: Find a Location

Choosing the right location is very important when it comes to making a profit from your ATM business. You have to find a location where there’s a great need for an ATM machine. Where do people go where they need cash to pay for goods and services? Where is there a large gap between one ATM machine and the next? What are the areas of your city with the most foot traffic? And who might you have to partner with in order to place your machine in a strategic spot?

Who Will Own the Space?

Before you should even think about ordering an ATM machine, you need to know where you’re going to put it. Choosing the perfect ATM location is a very strategic process. You have to consider factors such as visibility, ease of access, and competition. 

The first decision you have to make when choosing a location is whether you want to rent your own space, supply a space you already own, or coordinate with a site location owner. If you rent or purchase your own space, you have to factor that into your operating costs and adjust your business model accordingly to still make enough of a profit for it to be worth it.

The same is true of partnering with a site location owner. Depending on the agreement you set up, you could end up splitting your profits with the owner of the location where you choose to install your ATM. Keep this in mind when calculating your potential profit.

What Are the Best ATM Locations?

When it comes to choosing the right location for your ATM machine, you really have to consider what’s best for you and your business specifically. And you have to work with the locations available to you. Generally speaking, the best ATM locations typically share the same characteristics: cash only, high traffic, good reviews, liquor license, distance from other machines, and convenience for you.

Locations that are cash only or that encourage cash transactions create the demand that your ATM supplies. If people need cash, they need an ATM. This is good for business. So is high traffic. 

The more people who pass by and see your ATM on a regular basis, the more business you’re likely to get. High traffic areas also provide a certain level of security and comfort among users. Isolated machines away from security cameras or the public eye present an increased risk of vandalism and theft.

If you partner with a store owner, you want your ATM to be placed in a store or business that has good reviews. The more customers that store gets, the more business your ATM is likely to get. 

Locations with liquor licenses are good options, too. They are open late, so that extends the hours of operation of your ATM machine and offers more opportunities for transactions. Plus, it’s reasonable to have an increased surcharge at these locations, too (more on surcharge later).Finally, you have to consider the proximity of your machine to you as well as to other machines. The closer your ATM is to other machines, the more competition you have to get customers. But you also want the machine to be convenient for you to access. The more time and money you spend getting to your machine for maintenance and surveillance, the less profit you make.

What Are the Most Profitable ATM Locations?

There are some specific business types that tend to be more profitable due to increased surcharges, high demand, and large volume of patrons. These include casinos, gentlemen’s clubs, hotels, nightclubs and bars, convenience stores and gas stations, restaurants, barbershops and salons, microbreweries, and parking lots.

Keep in mind that profits will vary based on each individual business’s success. When looking for an optimal location for your ATM, choose a business that is busy, regularly brings in customers, and has good potential for staying in business for a while.

Step 4: Set Your Surcharge

The surcharge is the fee customers or users pay for the service your ATM machine offers. For each transaction made on your ATM machine, you make the surcharge amount in return. Setting your surcharge is a very strategic process. You want to offer a competitive surcharge while also setting yourself up to make as much profit as possible. 

The average ATM surcharge fee is about $2.50. Depending on the competition in your area, you can raise or lower that fee amount. And you can change it at any time. 

You might want to start with a low surcharge to encourage people to use your machine as you are just getting started. Or, alternatively, you might want to set a higher surcharge to meet your ROI quicker and start profiting sooner. The choice is up to you.

You also want to consider whether or not you’ll be sharing any portion of the revenue with a third party like a site location owner. If you are, you might opt to set a higher surcharge so that you make more after the site location owner’s share.

Step 5: Start Making Money

It is possible to make a good amount of money from an ATM business. When you’re just starting out, you will want to undergo a modicum of trial and error to get your business model just right. But with an ATM business, you have a low overhead and many opportunities for growth.

As long as people use your machine, you will make money. Getting people to use your machine is the hard work that you have to do once everything is set up. But once you do, you should expect to be making at least $450 monthly gross revenue. That’s 180 transactions a month at $2.50 each.

You can expect 40%-70% annual ROI from any location that warrants 80-100 transactions monthly. To make $1,500-$2,000 monthly in profit, you would need to own and operate 5-10 ATM machines. This is certainly possible if you can establish an efficient routine with your first machine and find optimal locations for subsequent machines. 

How to Start an ATM Business

If you want to know how to start an ATM business, it’s actually very easy. In just a few steps you can start making money. It will require a little bit of work to develop a routine with your machine and test different surcharge amounts and marketing strategies. But there are very few steps involved between completing the required paperwork and beginning to make money.

The best part about running an ATM business is that most of the factors that determine your success are in your control. You decide how much to invest in equipment, where you want your machine, who to work with, and how much you’d like to make per transaction. If you still have questions regarding how to start an ATM business, you can speak with an ATM Depot representative. Contact us today!

How to Start an ATM Business

ATM Business Profit: How Much Can You Really Expect to Make?

It’s very simple to make ATM business profit. However, the amount you can make will vary based on your goals, investment, and resources. The good news is that most of these factors are in your control. 

If you’re strategic, patient, and willing to undergo a little trial and error, you can discover the perfect formula for running an ATM business that brings in the revenue you’re hoping for. 

Before we get into specific details, we’ll answer some quick questions:

Is it easy to make ATM business profit? Yes.

Will it require hard work? Yes.

Are there opportunities for growth? Yes.

When we say it’s easy to make ATM business profit, we mean that as long as people use the machine, you will make money. Pretty simple, right? But it does require a little bit of effort on your part to get people to use your machine. That’s where we can help.

In the following sections we’ll share tips for maximizing your profit and growing your ATM business once you get the hang of operating your first ATM machine. At the end of the day, though, the most successful ATM business is the ATM business that works for you. 

How to Run an ATM Business

Starting an ATM business is one of the easiest businesses to set up and start making money immediately. We’ll prove it to you by breaking it down into a few simple steps.

Step 1: Buy and set up an ATM machine

You might want to do a little bit of research to find the equipment that best suits your needs and your goals to ensure you make the right choice. Then, make sure you have a place to put the machine whether it’s in your own store, a space you lease, or in someone else’s store (more on this later).

You don’t need to establish a business entity immediately. You can just do business as yourself at first. And the company you purchase the ATM from can help with the setup, so you don’t even have to worry about the bulk of the technical details.

Step 2: Make your ATM available to the public

Once your ATM is set up and fully operational, all you need to do is make sure it continues to work, keep it loaded with cash and receipt paper, and you might want to do a little bit of advertising or promotion to let people know about your machine.

Step 3: Collect a surcharge for each cash withdrawal transaction

The surcharge you set is your number one revenue source from your ATM. That means you make more money with the more transactions that are made on your ATM. In a couple of sections we’ll discuss some strategies for setting a surcharge.

Once you make back your investment, you can start to profit off of the surcharge fees. And that’s it! Next, we cover the specifics.

How Many Transactions Do You Need to Make ATM Business Profit?

Unfortunately, we do not have a magic number for you. Each independent ATM deployer (IAD) will have different goals and varying initial investments. You cannot make a profit until after you’ve reached your return on investment (ROI). And the timeframe you set for yourself to reach that goal will determine how many transactions you need at what surcharge.

We do, however, have some average numbers based on our experiences and the experiences of the IADs we work with. To give you an idea of what to expect, consider the following scenario:

Let’s say you set your surcharge at $2.50. That means that you earn $2.50 for each cash withdrawal transaction made on your machine. For the purposes of this scenario, we will estimate that you get an average of 6 transactions per day. 

That equals 180 transactions/month. Multiply 180 by $2.50 and you are looking at about $450 monthly gross revenue from your ATM machine. Now think of that in relation to your goals.

First of all, if you spend $2,000 on ATM equipment, it’s going to take a few months to make that back with 6 transactions a day before you can start to make a profit. Second of all, if you want to grow an ATM business and make it your main source of income, you’ll need to invest in a few machines.

IADs that own and operate 5-10 ATMs make about $1,500-$2,000 monthly in profit. So if you’re looking to make thousands of dollars with ATMs, you will need more than one. 

However, in terms of one single location, you can expect 40%-70% annual ROI from any location that warrants 80-100 transactions monthly.

And don’t be afraid to experiment with your surcharge.

Surcharge

The number one rule of setting a surcharge is to be competitive. You can set a higher than average surcharge ($3.00 or $4.00), but customers might pass you over for a machine that only charges a couple of dollars. Now, if you have the only ATM around, of course you get the luxury of raising that surcharge.

You might also consider starting with a lower surcharge than the competition at first to entice people to use it over a location they might be used to. It might require a little trial and error to get your surcharge just right. Find out whether people are using your machine more for convenience or for a competitive surcharge fee.

The good news is that you are in control. And with no backend communication costs, bank sponsorship costs, or any other operational costs, the surcharge fees generated are pure profit for you. For more tips on setting your surcharge, check out our article How to Set Your ATM Surcharge.

Location and ATM Business Profit

Location is very closely tied to your ATM business profit. Where you place your ATM needs enough foot traffic to be profitable. The more people pass by your ATM on a daily basis, the more likely you are to get transactions. 

You also want to make sure passers-by feel safe and comfortable using your machine. If your ATM is in a well-lit, monitored, highly populated area, you can expect more transactions than an ATM that is hidden or dangerous to use at night.

You also need to consider profit sharing when calculating your total profit from your ATM. That will depend on who owns your ATM location.

Site Location Agreement

If you partner with the owner of a retail store or business you’ll want to create a site location agreement. This serves as a contract between you and the site location owner and outlines roles and responsibilities as well as compensation. 

Some store owners might be content with the increase in sales an ATM can provide their businesses and agree to let you have a larger share of the surcharge fee profit. Others might only agree to give up space inside their store for your ATM if they get a share of the surcharge profit.

It can be helpful for you to have an extra pair of hands available to refill the machine and keep an eye on it, but keep in mind that the more responsibilities you share the more profit you’ll likely have to share. 

You get to draft this contract however you see fit, but it’s a good business practice to make sure it’s a win-win situation.

Your Own Store

If you own a business already, adding an ATM can be profitable for you in a number of ways. First of all, there is the surcharge fee profit. And since you are the site location owner, you won’t have to split that profit with a third party.

Second, an ATM can attract customers to your store which increases the opportunity for passers-by to make impulse purchases. Additionally, you can add coupons to your receipts to encourage future visits and purchases. And third, promoting cash sales saves you money on credit card fees.

The Best ATM Locations

If you have ever used an ATM at a bar or casino, you might have noticed that the surcharge fee is much higher than that at your local gas station or grocery store. This is because certain locations can get away with charging higher fees because they know their customers will pay it.

What you offer your customers with your ATM business is convenience. That is the service they pay for. So different locations can support different surcharges. 

Some locations are also more densely populated than others. These are going to be at the top of the list for some of the best locations as well due to the fact that more traffic creates more opportunities. You can check out the 9 best ATM locations we have identified through our experiences with IADs here

Equipment and ATM Business Profit

The type of equipment you purchase determines how quickly you can begin to make ATM business profit. Of course, the lower your investment, the quicker you can meet your ROI and begin pocketing the rest. However, you don’t want to end up spending more on repairs because you opted for cheap equipment. 

So you’ll have to figure out a balance there. But we can help you choose the right equipment for your needs in our ATM Buyers Guide so that you know exactly what to look for and what your options are.

You have to decide also if you want to purchase additional features like keyboard lighting or toppers to help advertise and draw in customers. Depending on your location, it might be a good idea to invest in cameras and security as well as insurance for your machine. 

Whatever you decide you need to make sure your ATM is the preferred location in town, just add up all of the costs and adjust your surcharge accordingly so that you can meet your ROI and begin profiting as soon as possible.

Choosing the Right Denominations

If your machine facilitates removable cassettes, you can store two different currencies (10s and 20s, for example) which gives your customers more options for cash withdrawal amounts. This enhances the convenience your ATM offers and can result in a larger ATM business profit for you.

Removable cassettes also allow you to store more cash, so you can service very busy locations reliably without worrying about running out of bills or having to inconvenience yourself by making extra stops to refill the machine. The less time you spend on your business, the more profit you make, too. Would you rather make $450 in 20 hours or 30?

You also want to consider the demographics of your ATM location as well. Low income neighborhoods are more likely to need smaller ATM cash withdrawal amounts, so the better able you are to accommodate that the more business your machine will get. Keep this in mind as you choose what denominations to store in your ATM.

Choosing the Right Bank

You want to make as much ATM business profit as possible, so that means you need to keep costs down. Different banks have different fee structures and typically offer a variety of requirements to avoid those fees. You want to avoid them if possible to increase your profit.

Since you will be filling your ATM machine with your own funds, you need to find out what the minimum balance is for your funding account so that you don’t drop below it when refilling your machine. If you drop below the required minimum balance, you might have to pay out $10 or so in bank fees for that month.

And you want to choose a bank that will work with you and that communicates well. Because again, the more time you have to spend running around town and waiting and facing obstacles, the less profit you make because that’s all time you have to pay yourself for. 

It’s Easy to Make ATM Business Profit

Making ATM business profit is easy compared to many other businesses. It’s relatively inexpensive to start; just purchase the equipment and possibly lease a space. You can start making money immediately after the machine is set up.

You don’t need any specific entrepreneurial or business experience. In most cases you don’t need to hire any employees unless you want to. And you don’t need to set up a business entity (like establishing an LLC) to get started.

You don’t have any products to sell in person or online. There’s no multi-level marketing (MLM). And there aren’t any franchise fees associated with owning and operating an ATM business.

So as far as getting started, making money quickly, and establishing a routine that’s convenient and profitable for yourself, an ATM business is the way to go. If you still have questions or would like to speak with a representative from ATMDepot.com, contact us today!

Choosing an ATM Location: 9 Best Locations for ATM Machines

Based on our experience in the ATM business, we’ve developed a list of the 9 best locations for ATM machines. The list is ordered from locations that see the most transactions monthly to the locations that see less but that are still lucrative.

Let’s look at some numbers:

An ATM placed at a slow location could make a minimum of $180 a month. It would require that at least two people use it every day for a $3 surcharge. On average, you should expect your ATM to process 150-180 transactions a month. That’s 5 or 6 a day.

The point is, it’s very easy to run a successful ATM business. You just need to choose the right location. We can help.

The Importance of Choosing a Good Location

The bottom line is that your ATM machine only makes money if people use it. So think about where people need access to ATMs and what locations people frequent the most consistently.

Don’t give up right away if the locations you’re considering already have machines. A new machine is almost always preferred over an old one. Do some investigating and see if existing machines are in working order, outdated, and compliant. 

If you find a poorly maintained ATM taking up prime real estate, see if you can swoop in with a better offer. 

Choosing a “bad” location doesn’t necessarily mean your business won’t be profitable. It just means you might not be making as much as you could. It will take you longer to meet your ROI and you’ll make less revenue in the long run. 

A poor location sees, in our experience, 2 or less transactions a day. That translates into a 25-30% annual return. That’s still a profit. If, after a while, you aren’t seeing the revenue you want, you can move the ATM to another location! 

You’re looking, ideally, for an ATM location that sees 80-100 transactions a month. That equals about 40-70% ROI annually. If you find a location that earns more, great!

There’s no problem with trial and error when it comes to choosing a location. You can also consult with the ATM company or processing provider you work with. Someone who has been in the business a long time and personally operates ATMs on a daily business is the best advisor when it comes to discussing potential locations.

What Makes the Best Locations for ATM Machines?

Cash Only

Top performing ATM machines can be found where people spend large amounts of cash. Cash only establishments kind of encourage this behavior and therefore are perfect locations for ATM machines.

High Traffic

ATM machines are there for customer convenience. So you want to make sure your machine is clearly visible, easy to access, and safe to use. Locations with heavy foot traffic encourage more ATM transactions because of the number of people who see the ATM regularly. 

The more people who pass by your machine, the more opportunities there are for transactions. And high traffic areas can make customers feel safer accessing their accounts because they are surrounded by witnesses.

Good Reviews

Again, you want your machine to be where the people are. If you arrange to have your machine placed in a business that doesn’t get many consistent customers or has poor reviews, you’re missing out on revenue. Businesses that people enjoy patronizing and that get good reviews are where you want your machine. Because that’s where everyone is at!

Liquor License

Liquor stores and other locations where liquor is served are good locations for ATMs. Similar to convenience and grocery stores, liquor stores are one-stop-shops, if you will. Rather than have to make one more stop to get cash, it’s convenient to be able to do so from the place the customer is already shopping. 

ATMs in liquor stores also typically have higher surcharges. So not only is the ATM market cornered in a liquor store increasing transactions, but you make more per transaction too.

Proximity to Other Machines

The closer your ATM is to other machines, the more competition you have. Will customers use your machine or the one down or across the street? You basically have to split customers.

There are only three instances where it would be advantageous for you to place your ATM in close proximity to another:

a. You offer a lower surcharge that gives users an incentive to choose your ATM over others

b. There’s just that much foot traffic that more than one ATM is necessary to avoid lines and overcrowding

c. The ATMs nearby are old, outdated, and/or frequently out of order

Again, when it comes to choosing a location for your ATM, consider the users’ needs. The biggest selling point of your ATM should be convenience.

Close to Your Home or Work

If you want to make the most profit from your ATM business, you need to minimize costs where possible. Traveling to and from your ATM is one place to start. If you place your ATM close to places you already go, you save time and money having to access it. Make sure your ATM is convenient for you, too. Otherwise, you don’t pocket as much revenue as you should.

You’ll need to regularly access your ATM to load cash, add receipt paper, clean the machine, and address any technical errors. Customers can’t use your machine and you can’t make money if your ATM isn’t in working order.

If you have a little experience running an ATM business already, it’s okay to venture out and maybe install an ATM farther away if you find a really good location. You might even hire someone to visit and load the machine for you if your ATM does really well and you can afford to do so.

9 Best Locations for ATM Machines

The numbers provided in this section are based on ATM Depot’s experience in the ATM business. There are many factors that contribute to a location’s success, most of which we covered above. However, there are seasonal and geographic factors as well. 

Keep in mind that these numbers are averages. The best rule of thumb is to gauge a business’s popularity and success. If a business is busy, regularly draws in customers, and has a good chance of staying around for a while, your numbers are going to be higher than a location with minimal success.

In terms of revenue, the following locations have the highest profit potential. However, they are usually supplied with ATMs from the beginning, so it’s difficult to get started in these locations unless you know someone and have an in.

1. Casinos

ATMs in large casinos see around 1,500-3,000 transactions monthly. And we’ve seen casino ATMs with upwards of 3,000 transactions monthly. Small casinos see around 30-800 transactions monthly. 

Not only do these ATMs get a lot of traffic, surcharge fees are also typically quite high. High traffic plus high surcharge equals great profit.

While casino ATMs get the most transactions of any other location, they are difficult to obtain. You’ll often see bank-controlled ATMs in casinos, but that isn’t always the case. The best way to get access to this money-making location is to rely on preexisting relationships.

Is there a service you already offer a casino? Do you know someone in charge at a casino? Is there another service you could add to your ATM machine pitch that would incentivize a casino owner to partner with you?

Because casino ATMs are so necessary and lucrative, you’ll rarely find a location in want of one. You might, however, be able to negotiate a better deal than the current ATM owner. Keep in mind that all of this is easier to navigate if you already know someone in the casino business.

2. Gentlemen’s Clubs

We offer the same advice for seeking out a gentlemen’s club as a location for your ATM machine. Gentlemen’s club ATMs see around 300-800 transactions monthly but are so coveted that competition to get in is high. Unless you know the owner of a club, you’d have to be a pretty good salesperson to get the attention of someone who’s already set up with ATMs.

But again, it’s not impossible or unheard of. If you’ve been in the ATM game for a while, you might be ready to pursue these high-demand locations. If you’re new to the business, though, check out the rest of our list.

The following venues are more easily attainable. So, rather than expend all of your effort trying to get started in the hard-to-get locations, you could already be making money by aiming for an easier target.

3. Hotels

Traffic to hotel ATMs depend on hotel occupancy, of course. The more people staying at a hotel, the more potential for ATM transactions. So while small hotel ATMs see around 100-150 transactions monthly, medium hotels 100-200, and large hotels over 200, these numbers might depend on the success of the hotel itself. 

A medium, non-branded hotel with great reviews might bring in more guests and get more ATM traffic than a large, well-known hotel that people don’t enjoy staying at. 

And it depends on the geographic location, too. What hotels do people have to choose from in your area? What’s the competition look like? Where do people like to stay when they come to your town? Are hotels downtown busier? 

These are all things to keep in mind when gauging which locations have the potential for the most revenue.

4. Nightclubs and Bars

Nightclubs and bars are typically cash-heavy locations. They see around 250-500 transactions monthly. Patrons don’t want to risk losing their cards or having them stolen, so they might opt to use cash instead. Many clubs and bars require cash-only cover charges, too. 

And then there’s tipping. It’s quicker and easier to slide your favorite bartender a few bills than having it charged to the card. Cash tips are more profitable for bartenders as well since card charge fees aren’t taken out of cash tips.

5. Convenience Stores and Gas Stations

Convenience stores and gas stations should provide customers with as many goods and services as possible. That’s what makes them convenient. Customers want to stop at these locations for as much of their needs as they can because it’s quick and easy. 

C-stores and gas stations are easy to find and small enough that customers don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for what they need. ATMs at these locations are also preferred by customers because they offer a greater sense of security. There’s almost always an attendant monitoring the activity.

You can expect your ATM to get 200-400 transactions monthly in a convenience store or gas station.

6. Restaurants

Here again we have the tipping factor. Charge tips are automatically recorded and reported for taxes while cash tips can be estimated and sometimes unreported altogether making them more profitable. Therefore, servers and bartenders typically prefer cash tips.

There is also a charge to run a card. Sometimes, this charge is taken out of the servers’ tips. They leave at the end of their shifts with the tips they earned minus the fees for the number of customers who paid with a card.

Smaller restaurants might be cash-only for this reason or charge the fee to the customer’s transaction. In these cases, it ends up being cheaper for the customer to pay in cash.

ATMs in and around fast food restaurants see around 75-150 transactions a month. Quick service restaurant ATMs see around 100-150 transactions a month. And you can expect 150-200 transactions a month from an ATM in close proximity to cafes, diners, and luncheonettes.

So consider the type of restaurant you’re looking at and determine whether or not it gets enough patrons to earn you as many transactions and revenue as possible.

7. Barbershops and Hair/Nail Salons

Similar to bars and restaurants, barbershops and salons are tip-heavy locations and usually charge customers extra to pay with a card because of the charge fee. 

These locations typically pass the fee on to the customer rather than taking it out of employee wages, so it ends up being cheaper for the customer to pay in cash. Without the fee, customers are more likely to tip more, so these locations strongly encourage cash payments.

Barbershop and salon ATMs see around 250-300 transactions a month. 

8. Microbreweries

This category kind of encompasses any new or trendy location. They bring in a lot of customers because of the novelty. People want to check out shiny, new locations especially if they’re bored with their previous options. These are also places people like to hang out. 

If a location draws a lot of people, you want all those people to pass by and use your ATM.

9. Parking Lots

Parking lots and parking garages are common in densely populated areas. That means that many people will be around regularly to see and use your ATM. Downtown areas and locations with a variety of shops and activities bring tourists and locals alike to spend cash all year round.

What all of these locations have in common is that they are places where people prefer to pay with cash and they are places many people like to go on a regular basis. The combination of traffic and need make ATM businesses successful in these areas.

Of course, your experience will vary. You know your town better than anyone else, so use our list of What Makes the Best Locations for ATM Machines to guide your search.

Site Location Agreement (SLA) and Revenue Split

Each of the 9 locations on our list of best locations for ATM machines will likely be owned by someone other than you. This means that you’ll have to talk to business owners to create a partnership for running the ATM.

Convenience stores get about 23% more in sales from ATM users. But while an ATM machine in itself can bring more sales to the location therefore benefiting the store, location owners will be most likely to let you use their space for a share of the ATM revenue.

So when choosing the best location for your ATM, make sure the contract between you and the site location owner is a win-win. You want to make as much profit as possible, so you’ll have to weigh the number of transactions you expect against the percent of revenue split between both parties.

Other Locations to Consider

A Retail Store You Own

If you own a retail store and are considering adding an ATM machine, you can add to your monthly profits. As long as you advertise it and make it visible to passers-by, an ATM machine could bring in more customers or at least more foot traffic in and past your store.

Encouraging cash payments could lower your credit card fees, and you can offer coupons on ATM receipts to push sales. Additionally, about 30% of the cash withdrawn from an ATM in a store is spent in that store. At the very least it encourages impulse buys.

So adding an ATM service to your existing business could be very profitable for you.

The Office Where You Work

This only works if your office meets the following criteria:

a. There are 100s of employees

b. There is a cafeteria or someplace to spend cash

The more employees there are, the more opportunities there are for ATM transactions. Before placing an ATM in your office, make sure there’s a good balance between the amount of traffic and need for the service.

Commercial Building

Large shopping centers are typically supplied with ATMs by banks, but smaller ones might not be. If you already know the owner of a commercial building, see who if anyone is providing them with ATM service. There might be an opportunity for you.

Condo Complex

Here again you have to consider the amount of traffic in addition to the need for ATM service. If there is a condo complex with many units and nearby locations to spend money, you might consider placing an ATM in a condo complex. Keep in mind that you will need to speak with HOA to get approval.

The Best Locations for ATM Machines

When scouting locations, look for high-traffic areas, cash-only locations or locations with a high rate of cash paying customers, and locations where other ATMs are scarce. You also want to look for places customers will feel safe using the ATM such as locations with lots of foot traffic.

Be aware of new businesses that might not have ATMs yet and locations where ATMs are old, outdated, and frequently out of order. These all make for great opportunities to get your foot in the door and ask about starting a partnership to run your ATM.

You can check out liquor stores, bars, restaurants, convenience stores, shopping centers, and parking lots. For your first ATM, it’s a good idea to choose a location close to home or work until you get used to the process. You can even look into setting up your ATM in the office or building where you work if there is enough of a demand for it.

If you haven’t set up a location yet and are nervous about approaching businesses, check out our article How to Get Your First ATM Placement. It covers how to borrow authority to give yourself credibility and what to say so that you can get other business owners to trust you and convince them to join a partnership with you.

Remember, the location of your ATM could make or break your success.

How to Set Your ATM Surcharge

There are some fees associated with operating an ATM machine. The fees cover the costs of the operation. Some fees are passed on to you, the ATM owner. Others, like an ATM surcharge, are passed on to the users.

It’s important to understand all of the fees so that you can control and maximize your revenue. But perhaps the most important fee is the ATM surcharge. That is where the bulk of your profit comes from.

We’ll tell you how it works, how much you should charge, and some strategies to keep in mind to help drive as much traffic to your ATM as possible.

What is an ATM Surcharge?

An ATM surcharge is the fee the user is charged to make a transaction on your machine. The ATM owner has complete control over this fee. You decide whether or not to charge an ATM surcharge and how much it is.

You earn the ATM surcharge by providing a convenient service to users. Users pay the ATM surcharge in exchange for the convenience of avoiding a trip to the bank. 

The surcharge is how you as an independent ATM owner makes a profit, but it’s also how you pay to operate your business. The ATM surcharge helps cover

  • The purchase of the machine
  • Parts costs
  • Maintenance
  • Signage
  • Receipt paper
  • Insurance
  • Etc.

Basically, the surcharge fee is how you make back your investment with the opportunity to profit.

On average, ATM surcharge fees are $2.50, but they can range from $0-$8. So how much are you going to charge your customers to use your ATM?

How to Set Your ATM Surcharge

There are many factors to consider when it comes to setting your ATM surcharge. Above all, you want to maximize your profit. But too high of a surcharge and you might lose traffic to lower-surcharge ATMs. 

Of course, you can adjust the surcharge fee based on activity. Try one strategy and monitor your traffic and transactions. Then make adjustments as necessary. Here are some things to consider:

Return on Investment (ROI)

Before you can profit from your ATM, you have to make back the cost of the purchase of the machine. One strategy for determining your ATM surcharge is to calculate how much you have invested and how much time you’d like to spend making it back.

Your investment might include the cost of purchasing the machine, any extra features or add-ons, signage, insurance, etc. Will you purchase an enclosure for the machine? Do you need to invest in extra security for an outdoor ATM machine? 

What about maintenance and up-keep? How much will you spend on receipt paper in a month? Do you live or work in close proximity to your ATM? If you will be refilling the machine yourself, you’ll want to reimburse yourself for the time and cost associated with travel. These are all factors to consider. 

Add up everything you spend to get your ATM up and running to determine how much you need to make back. You can expect your ATM to get about 5-6 transactions per day. That equates to 150-180 a month. Multiply that by your surcharge and calculate how quickly you can start making a profit.

You might want to start with a higher surcharge to make back your investment as soon as possible. Then you can lower the surcharge over time. But you don’t want to lose traffic, so you want to consider your customers as well when determining your ATM surcharge.

Customers

You will make more money by getting more traffic to your ATM. This might be a reason to start with a lower surcharge. It just depends on your competition. Is there another ATM close by? To introduce your new ATM to customers and entice them to use yours over others, you might offer a competitive surcharge fee.

You’ll want to consider demographics as well. Lower-income areas might require a lower ATM surcharge while wealthier communities might not blink at a higher than average ATM surcharge. You need to consider the average withdrawal amount, too. 

The average withdrawal amount is between $60 and $100. If the average withdrawal amount from your machine is on the higher end, you might consider a higher surcharge fee. And vice versa. It seems more reasonable to pay $3 to withdraw $200 than it does to withdraw $60.

There are also some locations that typically charge higher surcharge fees than others. Patrons of casinos and gentlemen’s clubs, for example, tend to spend large amounts of cash, so a $3.00+ surcharge seems small in comparison to the amount withdrawn.

If your ATM is located in a casino or gentlemen’s club, you also have the market cornered. The surcharge fee can be higher because of the added convenience. Customers of these establishments tend to stay a while and aren’t able to easily run to the gas station or parking lot just to take advantage of a smaller surcharge. 

So, it goes without saying that customers expect a small surcharge from ATMs in locations they visit during their day-to-day activities. This includes restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, etc.

Location Owner

Depending on your site location agreement (SLA), you may or may not be splitting the surcharge fee with the location owner. Sometimes store owners will be content to have the increased business and let you have the surcharge as your share of the profit.

Convenience stores, for example, experience 23% more in sales from ATM users than from non-ATM users according to ATM Marketplace. With the opportunity to see a 20% increase in sales with the installation of an ATM machine in their stores, store owners benefit from your machine by getting more traffic and sales alone.

However, if you are in partnership with a location owner who needs more incentive to agree to share the space, you might have to negotiate a portion of the surcharge fee. This will likely result in a higher ATM surcharge so that you are still able to make a profit that makes it worth your while.

And the location owner might have his or her own input regarding how much to charge. After all, the location owner knows the customers and competition best. 

The location owner will know what amount is convenient for the customers based on the average transaction amounts made in the store. But, he or she will want to maintain a competitive surcharge fee since the bulk of his or her incentive relies on increased traffic to and sales from the store. A higher than average number of transactions could make up for the loss of a higher surcharge.

Are there any other third parties you need to split the profit with? Will you hire a vaulter to load the machine for you? Do you have any business partners? If you will be sharing the profit, you might want to set a higher surcharge to make it worth everyone’s time.

Surcharge-Free ATMs

“Surcharge avoiders” will go out of their way to use a machine that doesn’t charge them to make transactions. As you can imagine, surcharge-free ATMs drive more traffic than most. But if you aren’t making any money per transaction, what’s the point?

If you own an ATM at a location owned by someone else, you probably shouldn’t offer surcharge-free transactions exclusively. Because the surcharge is where your profit comes from.

However, if you are the store owner who wants to add an ATM to enhance your business and better serve your customers, the increase in traffic and sales in your store could bring in enough revenue for it to be worth forfeiting the surcharge fee. 

So what you have to consider at the end of the day is whether the surcharge-free ATM will attract enough new business to offset the loss of revenue required to cover the ATM overhead and surcharge profit. And this might depend on competition.

If there is another surcharge-free ATM nearby, you might not get enough new business to make that revenue loss worth it. If there isn’t another surcharge-free ATM nearby, you stand to gain a significant advantage over other ATM locations that do charge a fee.

Surcharge Fee vs. ATM Interchange

There are other fees associated with ATM operation as well. An ATM interchange fee, for example, is a fee charged by the network your ATM is connected to. 

Banks have to pay the networks (Plus, Cirrus, Star, NYCE, etc.) to route out-of-network transactions to the correct account. If you’ve ever wondered why you can usually withdraw funds from your bank’s ATM but are charged a fee at non-bank ATMs, this is why. Your card is in-network for use at your bank.

Interchange is typically how ATM processing companies and bank sponsors make money. Sometimes ATM owners are able to take part in a share of the interchange fee, but it depends on how your provider operates. You’ll want to work with them to get in on any interchange profits.

For the purpose of setting your surcharge, all you need to know is that surcharge fees and interchange fees are separate. You do not need to consider ATM interchange when determining how to set your surcharge.

Conclusion

The good news is that the ATM surcharge is completely up to you and your partners. The bad news is that there is a lot to consider to get it just right. Setting your ATM surcharge will require a degree of strategy. But again, you can test and adjust as necessary. See what works and what doesn’t to get the maximum profit. 

If you’d like to get an estimate on what a potential ATM location could make in profits, check out our ATM surcharge calculators. These calculators will help you determine if the surcharge you’re looking to set would satisfy your ROI.

When you work with ATM Depot, you keep 100% of your surcharge. Not all providers work the same way. So ask around and find a system that works best for you. If you have more questions, contact a representative today!

Starting Your ATM Business: ATM Business Contract and Other Documents

Do you need an ATM business contract to start your ATM business? What regulations apply to running your ATM? What do you need to do before you order your ATM machine? We’ve got the answers.

Making the decision to start an ATM business is a big step in and of itself. Completing the required paperwork can be a daunting next task. But don’t let it stop you from making money.

In this article, we cover the first steps in planning your ATM machine purchase. We want you to know what to expect so that you don’t waste any time and you avoid unnecessary stress.

As an independent ATM deployer (IAD), once you’re prepared, you can start making money with your ATM!

What is an ATM Business Contract?

An ATM business contract is a documented agreement between you—the ATM owner—and the proprietor or merchant where the ATM will be placed. This is also referred to as a contract agreement, placement agreement, or site location agreement (SLA).

Rather than retain sole ownership of the machine by renting or owning your own space, you create a partnership with the third party merchant when you use someone else’s business or space to house your ATM machine. 

So, depending on where you plan to place your ATM, you may or may not need one of these contracts or agreements. If you do plan to work with a third party, you will need more than a verbal agreement. 

An ATM business contract or SLA details the ins and outs of the ATM placement and operation. This protects you if you ever have any issues working with the third party.

Common clauses include

  • Where the ATM will be placed
  • Responsibilities of each party 
  • Length of time agreement is effective
  • Revenue split
  • Insurance
  • Maintenance

There are two ways we recommend getting one of these contracts:

First, you can work with a lawyer to draft a contract that lists the protections you need. However, as you can imagine, this is the costly route. Lawyers can cost upwards of about $1000.

Or, you can use a contract template. Again, make sure it lists all of the protections you need. You can find contract templates with an ATMDepot membership.

But, if you won’t be working with a third party, you can skip this altogether. However, choosing your ATM location is the very first step you need to take before ordering your machine. In the next section, we’ll tell you where to start.

ATM Location

Before you order your ATM machine, you need to have a location for it first. This will help you determine whether it will be indoors or outdoors, what size machine your location can support, and whether or not you need an SLA (more on SLAs below).

If you place the ATM in a business or location that you own, you don’t need a placement agreement or SLA. However, you will if you want to work with a third party merchant.

Document Checklist for Starting ATM Business

These are the forms you will need to complete and send to your ATM provider to make sure they have all of the information they need and that you are in compliance. 

You might not complete the equipment order form until everything else is finished, but deciding on equipment is an important step. It requires you to really think about your plan and your needs for your ATM, so we’ll start there.

Equipment Order Form

Once you have your location set, you can order your ATM machine. However, there are two more decisions for you to make before you can submit this form. 

First, you need to decide how much your surcharge will be. The surcharge is the fee associated with conducting a transaction (typically withdrawal transaction) on your ATM. Usually the fee is $2.50, but you want to make sure you keep up with other ATMs nearby. 

For example, a surcharge of $2.50 might not be wise if the ATM across the street only charges $2.00. Alternatively, if the ATM across the street charges $2.50, you might want to charge $2.00 to increase traffic to your machine. 

Second, you need to know what cash denominations your ATM will dispense. The standard is 20s, but you might want 10s if your ATM is located in a low-income neighborhood. This way you accommodate the needs of customers who might have lower account balances.

You will need both surcharge and denomination to complete your equipment order form. You will also need to decide if you will do the installation yourself or if you will have it professionally installed.

Finally, you’ll need to link a bank account. 

ACH

An ACH form documents your account information. You will need to provide account and routing numbers and give permission to have funds electronically transferred to your account.

When you open this account, or if you change an existing account, there are some requirements the bank has to meet to get your account set up for your ATM business.

The USA Patriot Act was passed in 2001 in order to vet bank account owners. This act applies to you as an ATM business owner because you will be under scrutiny for its anti-money laundering provision. 

Additionally, because running an ATM machine means you are conducting money wire transactions for other people, you are not allowed to operate this type of business if you have committed a felony or financial crime.

Section 326 of the USA Patriot Act requires your financial institution to obtain, verify, and record information about you and your business before setting up an account for your business. Therefore, you will need to provide them with your name, address, date of birth, and other identifying information.

The bank will need your driver’s license to identify you, and you’ll need to provide a copy with your ATM purchase documentation.  

Driver’s License

Your ATM processor will need a copy of your driver’s license for many of the same reasons as your bank. You will have to pass a basic background check to be approved for owning and operating an ATM machine. A copy of your driver’s license is the best way to verify your identity.

Voided Business Check

A voided business check verifies the legitimacy of your linked account. Your linked account must be a checking account, not a savings account. And it must be a check—with account and routing numbers—not a deposit slip.

ATM Operator Agreement and Application

Your ATM application is also known as the ATM Operator Agreement. This form tells banking partners who they are working with and makes sure all federal regulations are met.

W-9 Form

Since you will be earning revenue from your ATM machine, you will need to complete a W-9 form to report residuals for tax purposes.

ATM Processing Agreement

The ATM processing agreement lists your rights and obligations as the ATM owner as well as the rights and obligations of the ATM processor. This will be the legal contract between you and the ATM processor that runs your ATM machine program. This contract also ensures your payment as agreed upon.

Other Applicable Documents

These documents depend on your specific needs and situation. Check with your local courthouse to see if you need any special licenses or permits before operating your ATM. And remember, you only need an SLA if your ATM will be in a location that someone else owns.

Business License and Permits

While you can operate your ATM machine as a sole proprietor, LLC, or corporation, you might need to check with your local government about specific requirements. The most common route is to register as a sole proprietor under a “doing business as” business name. Then, you can open your bank account under that.

Some ATM processors will license you the rights to use their name as part of your company name. This might be an option for you as well. It will of course require additional paperwork and a fee for usage rights. However, the nominal fee is often worth the instant credibility and trust you get by associating your business with one that’s more established and well-known.

So you don’t need a specific license to operate an ATM business. When you are ready to purchase your ATM, you will simply complete the ATM Operator Agreement form which serves as the contract between you and the ATM processor. 

Placement Agreement or Site Location Agreement (SLA)

This also refers to the ATM business contract we opened this article with. It’s a good idea to have this to protect you against any potential disputes. The SLA makes your agreement legal and binding before you install the ATM machine. This is a win-win for you and the location owner.

You can work with a lawyer to create a personalized contract or agreement, or you can use one of our templates on ATMDepot.com if you are a member. You can also find scripts here for pitching and selling your idea to business owners you’d like to work with to get them on board!

ATM Insurance

Purchasing ATM insurance is not mandatory, and you can purchase it on your own timeline. It might be a good idea to get insurance once you have your machine set up and filled with cash. There are coverage options for equipment and cash or one or the other.

When searching for insurance companies, look for ones that are associated with the ATM Industry Association (ATMIA). That way they can better guide you toward a policy that meets your specific needs.

Keep in mind also that if your ATM location is owned by someone else, that party might have insurance requirements for you to follow. And you might opt out of insurance altogether if your ATM location is open 24 hours or if it’s under constant security. 

Wireless Agreement

Completing this agreement allows the ATM processor to send you a wireless modem which converts your signal from Internet to cellular. This provides a faster connection speed.

Conclusion

There are a number of steps necessary to get started with your ATM business. However, they are all relatively simple. Use this article as a checklist to prepare and make the process as seamless as possible.

Getting the ATM business contract, or SLA, and setting up your account with your bank are the two steps that will take the most time. That’s only because you have to coordinate with those other parties. Everything else is up to you to fill out and submit. Check out our article on choosing the right ATM equipment here. You can even speak with a representative if you still have questions. ATM Depot has everything you need to start your ATM business today!