How to start an ATM business? Legitimate or Fraud? (2024)

Written by: Parth Parth
Last Updated by Roci­o Somoza: January 4, 2024
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You might want to move out of your office job and start a business or just earn some passive income from an ATM business. Let’s look at how you can do so if you want to.

What are the costs of starting an ATM business?

Starting an ATM business should not be an expensive proposition like it might be for some franchises. The sample fees for starting one ATM are given below:

Sample cost breakdown for a new ATM business

ATM Machine cost (indoor)$2,100
Programming for the business$49
Merchant Application$99
Stock Cash in ATM$1,500
Estimated total$4,000

These fees vary depending on where you get the ATM from, whether you buy it used or new from a manufacturer, etc.

This does not include other costs that you are going to incur like rent for the location, the cost of incorporating a Limited Liability Company (LLC), and other administrative and legal fees that are associated.

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

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. These cost between $2000  –  $3000.

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 safer. They’re more expensive as they have to weather the elements of nature and be sturdier to remain protected from theft. As such, they are closer to $10,000 in cost.

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.

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Where should you put your ATM business?

Look to place your business in high-traffic retail environments. Some examples would be convenience stores and markets, bars, concert halls, transportation and tourism hubs, etc. The idea is to look for foot traffic that would attract transactions. These are locations that anyone would want to target and might, thus, be harder to get a headstart in but will turn a bigger profit.

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

You should consider whether or not you are going to own the location. Buying a location in a commercial market might be expensive and drive your business into the ground if you do not make expected profits, but people might not want to rent out only a small portion of their land for a standalone ATM when they have bigger stores. If you do partner with a store, make sure it is one that gets high footfall and has a good reputation.

An uncommon thing to do is have a mobile ATM that you can bring to locations like concerts, festivals, etc. Those are times when people need cash very quickly. You can also charge a higher surcharge of $3 – $5 when you look at these locations. Music festivals are also a good venue.

What are the physical requirements for an ATM business?

  1. Power: Your location should have power. After all, an electronic machine cannot operate without electricity.
  2. A communication line: ATMs need to connect to the network of cards, banks, etc and a landline or cellular connection is generally needed.
  3. Space constraints: Check how big your machine will be (or machines if you’re placing multiple in the same location) and leave some space for the customer.
  4. Security coverage: You might want to consider investing in security cameras. ATM theft is hard and rare but still a very real possibility.

How do ATM businesses make money?

ATMs make money on the surcharge they charge you. Ever been to an ATM and asked to accept a $3 fee to get cash from there? That fee goes to the bank if it is a bank-owned ATM or the business owner if an entrepreneur or such business owns it.

Revenue for an ATM can be calculated using the simple formula of transactions – surcharge. It is imperative to make sure that you adjust your surcharge so that you are not driving people away. After all, no one wants to pay $20 in fees for a $100 withdrawal.

Depending on your ATM’s location, you can make anywhere from $10 – $100 on a given day. The average ATM in a retail location sees about 6 – 10 transactions per day. Assuming you retain $2.50 (after ISO fees) per transaction, you will see between $15 – $25 every day. That translates to $450 – $750 per month.

What are the ongoing costs of running an ATM business?

Outside of the commission a merchant might charge you, there are a few costs you will incur:

  1. Receipt Paper, Parts, and Repair: this is highly variable depending on the location, use, repair schedule, age of the machine, etc. A case of Receipt paper with 8 rolls costs approximately $50. A medium to high volume location should go through no more than one roll per month.  Slower locations might go through one roll per quarter.
  2. Fuel: This is highly dependent on the kind of vehicle you use to deliver cash and the route you take. Also, gas prices in your location might change due to external factors.
  3. Communication costs: These costs are for communicating with the network and are not major. They should be less than $30 – $50.
  4. Vault costs.
  5. Vehicle maintenance costs.

What are common scams related with an ATM business?

As this business is less regulated than franchises are, you are more likely to encounter scams. Therefore, you should do your due diligence before entering this business. One of the common scams in this business is a Ponzi scheme. Some investors in 2009 caught themselves in the middle of this when they invested huge sums into an ATM business. At first, the scammers kept the cash flowing from newer investors who were being recommended the business by people they knew. That is one way in which Ponzi schemes work where someone who is getting “profits” recommends it to other people.

If you do business with a company that promises you a package, you should look over all the legal documents before signing anything or giving anything away. A lot of the time, businesses will promise you a package that includes a location. What they do is sign an agreement with a merchant somewhere with no land being in your name. You end up paying several thousand dollars for machines that go on the market for less than $500.

Another type of common scam is when businesses tout their ATM packages as get-rich-quick schemes. Basically asking you to hand over all of your money to them in return for you to have to put no work into the business, letting them handle everything. Companies like this usually are gone by the time they promise your profit will be in your hand.

Once again, read all the paperwork you sign, look over the prices of things you are sold, do your research, and remember that if something seems too good to be true, it most likely is.

Things to keep in mind

  1. Do not forget to file for a limited liability company. When you file and run your business through an LLC, you cannot be held liable for things like injuries caused to people in your place of business, etc.
  2. Get business cards printed. When you go to different companies, banks, etc. you might need to leave your information with someone for them to call you back. Business cards provide a professional look and bode over better than a piece of paper.
  3. Do not choose a location that might get very less footfall. Since your profit rests solely on people withdrawing cash from your ATMs, you should try to make sure that it will happen.
  4. This article is meant to be indicative and informative but we recommend talking to a lawyer about what paperwork you need to file to run your business. The finance industry is heavily regulated to protect from fraud and you do not want to get caught in the middle of missing paperwork.
  5. Make sure to document everything that you own and that a merchant owns (if you are placing your ATM in someone’s business) so that in case of any legal disputes, you are in the clear.
  6. The more machines you have, the more money you will make. Also, as your network expands, bigger firms will become more interested in buying a business that is already established, raising its valuation.


ATMs can be a very profitable business if your location is right and we hope that this gives you an idea of what you need to start an ATM business of your own. If you want to explore other businesses and franchises, look over Vetted Biz.

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