Why ATM Eats Cards 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 are 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 or internet banking. 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 for buying any products online, paying at shops, restaurants, service stations and places where cards are accepted. Online trading especially where buying or selling is involved can not be possible without such modern facilities.

An ATM (Automated Teller Machine) which is also called by 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 like banks 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 or captured by the machine. There could be several possible reasons for that which I have discussed below.


1- Inserting the card wrongly
There is a proper way of inserting 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 will 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 number, expiry date and name of account holder written on it (depending on bank policy name may not be mentioned on some cards) plus a magnetic strip on the back which carries necessary details which is machine readable only. If for some reason magnetic strip and other details fade away, the ATM will not be able to read the card and might capture it. Same is true in case of using broken or bent card. It might get stuck inside ATM.

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 may trigger machine to capture that.

6- Using 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 grab your card and won’t return it. Usually a card once blocked becomes useless and can not be activated again due to safety reasons. You should order new 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 that can cause 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 electrical 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 of ATM. If you have forgotten the PIN and enter wrong PIN several times, ATM will hold your card considering it a stolen card or theft attempt. Mistakenly entering wrong PIN more than once can also do the same.

How to Avoid this from happening
Here are few tips to stay away 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 information 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 or out of order, the authorities display a notice to alert the users. So, check for the notes on door, walls or machine before using it.
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 to not 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 bank, contact that bank in person to recover your card. If it is a public ATM, then you need to contact the authorities managing 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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