Why ATM Eats a Card and How to Avoid it

Technology has changed the money and banking system. Previously, where ledger books were used for keeping the records of accounts and transactions have now fully replaced with computerized accounting. Similarly, checks (cheques) which are widely used for withdrawing or transferring money, a large part of this mean has got replaced with cash cards. Debit and credit cards have eased the handling of money. Today, these cards can be used in any part of the world to receive the cash instantly through cash machines or buying any products online or at shops. Online trading especially where buying is involved can not be possible without such modern facilities.

An ATM (Automated Teller Machine) which is also called by some other names like ABM (Automated Banking Machine), Cash Machine or Cash Point is a self-help electronic banking device which is networked with financial institutions and performs financial transactions for clients. Modern ATMs can perform a variety of functions including cash withdrawal, cash transfer, cash deposit, utility bills payment, balance inquiry, obtaining the bank statement etc. Despite of all the advantages, ATM cards, Debit cards or Credit cards which are used at ATMs may get swallowed by the machine. There could be several possible reasons for this trouble which I have discussed below.


1- Inserting the card wrongly
There is a way to insert the card in ATM. You can find an arrow on one side of the card which indicates in which direction you have to push it into the card inlet of ATM. But if you do not do that way, ATM might fail to read your card and swallow it instead of returning it.

2- Having no balance or insufficient balance in account
Some ATMs are configured to hold your debit card or ATM card if you have no balance or insufficient balance in your bank account. That is an unfair policy to hold your card for that reason but it’s happening.

3- Using a faulty or broken card
Every card has the name of account holder written on it in plus a magnetic strip on the back which carries necessary details which is machine readable only. If for some reason the name or magnetic strip fades away, the ATM will not be able to read the card and might hold it. Same is true in case of using broken or bent card. It might get stuck inside.

4- Using a card in wrong ATM
An ATM is configured to support certain services like Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Maestro, American Express etc. If you insert a card into such an ATM which does not display the logo of your service, your card might be eaten by the machine.

5- Using an expired card
This is a big issue about which people do not care. If the card has crossed the expiry date, the card becomes useless. Putting that into the cash machine might get swallowed by it.

6- Using the blocked card
If you lost your card, blocked it and later recovered it but didn’t unblock it or your card was blocked by the provider due to the violation of any term, using such blocked card will alert the ATM and it will simply eat up your card.

7- Use of reported card
A stolen card must be reported immediately. Such cards become useless even if you recover them. Using such cards will result into alerting the cash machine and holding your card.

8- Out of order ATM
This is one of the biggest issue which can create troubles for users. An out of order machine can swallow your card instead of returning it. The major cause for this problem could be the failure of any mechanical or electronic part inside the machine.

9- Entering PIN erroneously several times
When you use your card at an ATM, you have to enter the PIN before proceeding to services menu page. If you have forgotten the actual PIN and enter it erroneously several times, ATM will hold your card considering it a stolen card or a theft attempt. Sometimes, mistakenly entering wrong PIN more than once can result into the same.

How to Avoid this from happening
Here are few tips to stay safe from trouble:

1- Make sure to insert the card properly.
2- You must have some balance in your bank account. Do not use the debit card or ATM card if account is empty.
3- Check to make sure that your card doesn’t have faded name or magnetic strip. Avoid using bent or broken cards.
4- Before using ATM, confirm that you are at the right place and the machine supports your service. If it does not, then do not try to use the card.
5- Do not use expired, reported or blocked card. Get a replacement card instead.
6- If an ATM is faulty, the authorities display a note to alert the users. So, check for the displayed notices before using the cash machine.
7- Make sure to enter the correct PIN every time you use the ATM. If you have forgotten the PIN, call the service center and get it changed before using the card.
8- While travelling to some other country, carry enough cash with you in case the local cash machines do not accept your card for any reason, you will not face troubles. Try to avoid using your credit or debit cards abroad in ATMs if you intend not to stay for long. You might not get enough time to recover your held card.

How to retrieve held card
If it is the ATM of a bank, contact the respective bank in person to recover your card. If it is a public ATM, then you need to contact the local authorities of that ATM. You need to prove that you are the holder of that card by providing necessary proof of identity. Take your national identity card, driving license or passport with you to recover your card.

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