A handful of us have been victims of our ATM cards being seized by the Automated Teller machine and when this happens, it leaves us devastated.

(I highlighted some words for those who are ITKs. They won’t read in between lines but jump into conclusion).

I would also call on Professionals in the banking sector to add to these points being highlighted so that we too can learn. Before I will start, let’s have a brief Introduction about the ATM. Some of the points were culled from blogs.

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 client.

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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.

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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 lose 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.

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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.