Personal Finance

The all-in-one avatar of an ATM

Bhavana Acharya | Updated on July 16, 2011 Published on July 16, 2011


The plain-Jane ATM is no longer a simple cash-dispensing machine; it has blossomed to become a mini-bank of sorts.

Have you ever despaired going to your bank for routine transactions because of interminable queues or indifferent bank tellers? Or have you discovered at the last minute that you haven't paid your credit card bill and thus cannot pay through a cheque?

If that's the case, fret not, and look to your bank ATM. The plain-Jane ATM is no longer a simple cash-dispensing machine; it has blossomed out to become a mini-bank of sorts. ATMs now offer a bouquet of other services in addition to withdrawing cash in an effort to cut down on visits to the bank. ATM banking mimics internet banking in terms of features offered, making it especially useful for those with debit cards but who have not, for whatever reason, registered for netbanking. Since ATMs are open all hours and all days, it's quite easy and rather convenient to transact through ATMs. Here's detailing a list of all that you can do with just your debit card in your bank's ATM machine.

Regular services

Besides withdrawing cash, the ATMs of most banks offer a standard set of services. These include change of your PIN and details of your account balance. You can even get a miniature account statement, which details the past few transactions – anywhere between five to 10 transactions, depending on the bank. These transactions can also be carried out at ATMs of banks other than the one that you have an account with. But as per latest guidelines, up to five transactions per month will be free of charge, after which banks will levy charges on transactions. These charges vary across different banks.

There are other routine transactions that could be specific only to your bank's ATM only. Requesting account statements or a new chequebook is among these. A few banks such as Royal Bank of Scotland go a step ahead and allow cheque tracking and ‘Stop cheque payment' facility at their ATMs. Banks also offer drop-box facilities for cheque and cash deposits. Clearing times for such drops are displayed in the ATMs.

Payment services

Regular transactions apart, banks offer additional services in a vein similar to that of internet banking. For starters, you can make bill payments through your ATM. Bills which can be paid range from mobile recharges to insurance payments.

Bill payment works in a manner similar to that of online bill payment services. Banks tie up with service providers which range from insurance to telephone and electricity bills. The range of bills which can be paid in each bank depends on the providers they have tied up with. All banks allow payment of credit card bills issued by them. A few permit payment of credit cards of other banks as well. With an IndusInd ATM card, for example, you can pay any Visa credit card bill by linking it to the debit card. But some banks may levy charges on such transactions.

Prepaid mobile recharges can be made by keying in the mobile number and desired amount. Telephone and electricity bills can be paid, but for this service, you need to go and register with the bank first. You will have to fill out of a form detailing the billers and providing copies of the bills. Payments at the ATM can be made from the next billing cycle. Note, however, that payment of electricity bills vary from one State to another. Payment of insurance premiums can also be done but this almost every bank has a different rule for it. With State Bank of India, for example, you can pay premiums of SBI Life only. HDFC Bank on the other hand, permits premiums of Kotak Mahindra Old Mutual Life Insurance, Max New York Life, Reliance Life etc. in addition to HDFC Standard Life to be paid.

Fund transfers

ATMs also provide instantaneous fund transfers to other accounts. Here, however, the application is mixed and may not be useful for all users. Some banks, such as ICICI Bank and Axis Bank, allow transfers to accounts held in the same bank as well as other banks. Others, such as HSBC, on the other hand, allow transfers only to accounts in the same bank only.

For transfers within the bank, the process is as simple as keying in the required account number and amount. You do not require prior registration of service or account, allowing you the freedom to effect quick transfers.

However, transfers to other banks, when allowed, cannot be made on a whim. The account has to necessarily be linked to your card. You have to first register the payee account through internet banking, which makes this service rather redundant. Still, it helps those who do not have easy or quick access to a computer. Banks can also restrict the number of accounts that can be so linked. HDFC Bank, for instance, limits it to 16 accounts per card.

Unique services

All this aside, a few banks have introduced fairly unique services, a world apart from regular banking. State Bank of India, for example, allows its customers to donate to temple trusts and government relief funds through its ATMs! You can make select mutual fund investments through Axis Bank. With ICICI Bank, you can open a fixed deposit for 390, 590 or 990 days.

Published on July 16, 2011
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