Consider learning how to start an ATM business if you want a low-maintenance side hustle offering a steady income stream.
An ATM business start-up if you can set it up in a location with decent foot traffic and transaction volume via surrounding shops.
If you don’t know how to open an ATM business, I’m here to help you.
I wrote this guide on starting an ATM business for beginners, where I’ll teach you how to own and operate an ATM for profit in ten easy steps.
How To Start an ATM Business in 10 Easy Steps
Calculate the costs.
Consider the profitability of an ATM business.
Create your ATM business plan.
Choose a location for your ATM.
Register your business.
Secure your finances.
Secure the tools and machines you need.
Set up your ATM.
Promote your ATM business.
Scale your ATM business.
What do you need to start an ATM business? Starting an ATM business takes money, time, effort, and knowledge, like any business venture.
Follow these steps to start your own ATM business and foray into the ATM industry.
1. Calculate the Costs.
How much does it cost to start ATM business?
ATM costs anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on whether you buy a used or new one. Although you may want to buy used machines to minimize cost, they are usually slower and look antiquated.
The type of ATMs (e.g., freestanding or countertop models) also affects the price.
Do you wonder how to invest into ATM machines? Prepare $3,550 to $11,100 for your initial investment.
Aside from the ATM business startup cost, you must also consider the maintenance and regular costs.
The total cost to start an ATM business will also depend on whether you want to add extra features:
Removable or multiple cassettes
ATM business insurance policy
These extras are nice-to-have features, especially the business insurance. While the law does not require ATM business owners to carry this insurance policy, having one is ideal to give you peace of mind.
You can opt for the most basic general liability, which typically costs $33 to $60 per month and provides up to $1 million coverage. This insurance coverage does not include the machine or the cash inside.
General liability typically covers bodily injury, legal defense, medical payments, and property damage.
However, you may want to opt for a more specialized insurance policy (which is more expensive) if you operate multiple ATMs across the city and want coverage that includes the machine and the cash inside.
(Source: National ATM Systems)
Even though your ATMs are new and are less likely to have technical issues, it’s ideal to set a little money aside each month for maintenance costs to put your mind at ease.
In addition, insurance premiums and wireless services are regular costs if you opt for them. However, there are regular expenses that you can’t avoid.
Receipt paper for the machines
ATM equipment is your biggest one-time cost, between $1,000 and $10,000. However, you should expect to pay around $2,200 to $3,000 for the machine.
You can avoid some one-time costs if you put in the work and have the skills and time. For instance, you can install the ATM and do the program installation.
You may also factor in the vault cash. You still own this money but can’t use it for anything else because it’s part of your ATM business operation.
2. Consider the Profitability of an ATM Business.
How much cash can you earn from this business? Well, multiple factors determine your revenue and profit.
Surcharge Fees (and other Transaction Fees)
As an ATM business owner, your only source of revenue is the surcharge fee, which costs $1 to $3 per transaction. Although it may sound like a paltry amount, note that one-third of US consumers use an ATM at least once a week.
ATMs process an average of six to ten transactions per day. So imagine that at a $2.50 surcharge fee per transaction, most small business owners can expect at least a daily revenue of $20 per ATM.
Assuming that your machine generates $20 daily revenue on average, it should pay for itself in less than a year.
For instance, you want to expand by increasing your ATM terminals to 20. At this stage, you can expect an annual revenue of around $220,000 and a clean profit of approximately $66,000, assuming they are in high-traffic locations and are functional 24/7.
3. Create Your ATM Business Plan.
An effective business plan should contain your objectives and the steps to achieve them. Think of it as a written road map that guides you in making finance- and marketing-related decisions.
These are the components of a business plan:
Executive Summary – A brief review of your business plan
Business Overview – A summary of your company’s vision, mission, goals, and ownership
Products and Services – A comprehensive description of your offerings
Market Analysis – Market trends, including demands, untapped opportunities, and competitors
Sales and Marketing – A comprehensive description of your company’s unique selling propositions
Management Team – A complete detail of the roles of each member
Operations Plan – A detailed plan involving your office location, main assets, and equipment procurement.
Financial Plan – A financial plan, including startup costs, profit and loss estimates, balance sheet, cash flow, etc.
Appendix – Any additional documents
4. Choose a Location for Your ATM.
An ATM business is far from an easy, get-rich-quick scheme. As with any business venture, it comes with potential risks, including theft. Thus, choosing safe locations is paramount.
Aside from being safe, choose locations with high foot traffic.
Best Locations for ATMs
Observe your local area to identify untapped markets. Perhaps there are supermarkets and convenience stores with no in-house ATMs or streets lined with restaurants and shops with no nearby ATMs? Make sure you observe their foot traffic.
These are the other ideal ATM locations you may want to consider:
Many prefer paying cash for everyday items rather than using a credit or debit card.
Nightclubs and Bars
Installing an ATM is a great way to maximize your income if you own an establishment that gives nighttime entertainment.
Travelers usually need cash and appreciate the convenience of using ATMs at gas stations.
Hotel guests and visitors may not have access to their local bank and probably need an ATM if they use cash.
Many patrons need quick access to cash, making casinos excellent ATM location.
Guests need quick access to cash.
Since the cannabis industry is not yet federally legalized in the US, major banks refuse business owners to open an account. As a result, they rely heavily on cash transactions.
[Source: National ATM Systems]
Places with Old ATMs
Locations that look antiquated and worn are also good opportunities.
Factors To Consider When Choosing a Location
If you plan on placing multiple ATMs throughout your city, consider the logistics of operating and maintaining these machines.
Plan the route you will take to service your ATMs.
Estimate the frequency of your maintenance.
Negotiating the Rent
When looking for potential locations, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with a manager, owner, or anyone who has the authority to approve the placement of your ATM.
Next, set an appointment or arrive in person for the first contact, and ensure you’ve prepared your sales pitch.
It’s ideal to check out the location before starting the negotiation process. If you have an idea of the establishment’s layout, it’s easier to craft an effective sales pitch.
When making a sales pitch, emphasize the benefits the location will experience from having an ATM on its premises. For example, giving customers quick access to cash may encourage more cash transactions and in-store purchases.
After your discussion with the decision-maker, make sure you leave behind your contact number so your offer won’t get overlooked.
5. Register Your Business.
Although ATM providers typically register their companies in the state where they live, you don’t have to follow this route if you plan to expand. If expansion is part of your game plan, consider registering your business in a state with better tax advantages.
Once you decide where to register your own ATM business, the next step is to choose a business name and structure.
Choose a Business Name.
Choose a business name that reflects your objectives and services. Thus, always include words like cash or ATM. A good rule of thumb is to select a name that’s short and easy to remember.
Meanwhile, these are some things you have to AVOID when choosing a name for your ATM business.
Tricky spelling or pronunciation
Location-based name, which might hinder future expansion
Choose Your Business Structure.
Businesses come in several legal structures, directly affecting personal liability, taxes, and registration requirements.
Most small business owners choose this structure because meeting the requirements is easy. Conversely, the owners are liable for business-related debts, losses, and liabilities.
It’s similar to a sole proprietorship but for two or more owners liable for any business-related debts, losses, and liabilities.
Limited Liability Company or LLC
The owners are not personally liable for debts and losses under this business structure. It combines the characteristics of corporations and sole proprietorships.
This business structure creates a legal distinction between the company and its owners, who take profits through shareholder dividends. Meanwhile, the corporation pays taxes, while owners pay these on their dividends.
Secure Your ATM Business License.
You need licenses and permits to operate in the ATM industry. The permit requirements will depend on where you live and should not violate zoning codes.
Additionally, your city will inspect your location and ensure your business complies with the zoning codes and ordinances.
These are some of the most common license and permit requirements for ATM businesses:
A sign permit from the Department of Transportation if you will install ATMs in parking areas, pedestrian malls, and highways
A Class C liquor license if you install your ATM inside an establishment selling alcoholic beverages
A development permit from the Department of Environmental Quality
You also need a contract outlining the responsibilities and revenue share between you and the merchant (or the location owner). You may need the help of a lawyer to draft this contract.
Register for Taxes.
You must get an Employer Identification Number or EIN to register for taxes. You can file this online by visiting the IRS website. Alternatively, you can file this by mail or by fax.
If you choose sole proprietorship as a business structure, you can use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you must choose your tax year, a 12-month period that can start any month. You can visit the IRS website to access their taxpayer’s checklist and pay your taxes online.
Consult an accountant or professional who can help you with your taxes and ensure your business complies with all legal requirements.
Get a Business Insurance.
Although it’s tempting to skimp on your business insurance to reduce costs, this is vital for your long-term success as an entrepreneur. It protects you from unexpected events and losses that can have a devastating impact on your business.
These are some of the most common types of insurance you’ll need to have a successful ATM business:
This comprehensive insurance covers many business elements, such as bodily injury and property damage.
It provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
This coverage compensates employees in the event of a job-related accident.
It covers your physical space, whether an office, storefront, or cart.
It protects your business against claims from clients who say they suffered a loss due to an omission or error in your work.
Commercial Auto Insurance
It covers your company-owned vehicles.
Business Owner’s Policy (BOP)
This coverage acts like an all-in-one insurance policy that includes the coverage above.
6. Secure Your Finances.
It’s ideal to keep your business finances separate from your account to simplify tax filing, loan application, and cashflow or income tracking.
Business Bank Account and Credit Card
Follow this step to create a bank account in your ATM business’s name:
Contact the bank and ask about their rates and features.
Gather and present all the required documents to open a business bank account. They usually include proof of address, articles of incorporation, passport, etc.
Fill out the bank’s application form.
Meet with a banker to discuss features and services your business may need.
Once you have a business bank account, ask your banker if you can apply for a business credit card.
Credit cards provide you with funds to purchase equipment and supplies and help you build your credit history, allowing you to secure future loans and additional credit lines.
Although bootstrapping has merits, it isn’t easy to fuel growth using your savings or the cash your business generates. If you need to purchase major assets like ATMs and company vehicles, you’ll likely need external financing.
Here are some of the most common methods for financing a successful ATM business:
Although they offer many benefits, including tax-deductible interest, they are hard to qualify.
Small businesses find it easier to qualify for this type of loan.
They are free; you don’t have to pay them back.
You can fund your business using your savings or selling assets.
Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like WeFunder and Fundable enable multiple investors to fund your business.
Friends and Family
These people can help you cover business expenses. However, asking for legal advice is ideal because SEC regulations still apply.
7. Secure the Tools and Machines You Need.
Starting an ATM business requires these equipment and tools:
Your first ATM (or multiple machines)
Currency notes from different countries
Debit card processing account
Tools for routine maintenance
Find an ATM Processor.
Your ATMs won’t work without a processing company that connects these machines to multiple card networks.
Many companies that sell ATMs also provide processing services, which include making sure your machines meet the legal requirements.
Determine the Machine You Need.
ATMs come in all forms and sizes. These are the most common types:
Online ATMs provide real-time transactions and monitoring because they are connected to the internet.
Offline ATMs have fewer functions than online ATMs because they only connect to the bank’s database.
White Label ATMs are those operated by non-bank entities.
Offsite ATMs are operated by third parties that place them in hospitals, malls, and other public places with high foot traffic and transaction volumes.
Onsite ATMs are the ATMs you can find in banks and retail outlets.
Standalone ATMs have limited services because they are not connected to any bank network.
Network ATMs are connected to the ATM provider’s network.
Mobile ATMs are located in sporting events, local fairs and festivals, and other major gatherings where there is a temporary intense demand for quick access to cash.
(Source: Goldstar ATM)
Review Machines and Suppliers.
[Source: Goldstar ATM)
|Hyosung ATMs (FORCE / HALO II)||$1,795 – $6,000||For FORCE:|
– Wireless mounting bracket
– Brightness control on the topper
– Light in the vault
– Optional camera
For HALO II:
– Customizable LED lighting around the keypad
– Ergonomically designed keypad and cash exit
|Genmega ATMs||$2,450 – $7,809||For Genmega 2500:|
– Optional energy-efficient LED toppers
– High-resolution LCD touchscreen
For Genmega C600:
– 15-inch LCD touchscreen
– 2K cassette
– Microsoft Windows CE™ 6.0 operating environment
|Hantle ATMs||$2,000 – $7,300||For 1700W:|
– High-resolution 7-inch LCD screen
– Through-the-wall design
|Triton||$1,200 – $7,300||For ARGO:|
– Larger screen
– Easier-to-read touchscreen and keypads
– Printer-less model
Should You Lease or Buy Your Equipment?
The decision to buy or lease an ATM depends on your business. However, buying the machine outright is better if you have the capital and plan to use it for a long time than leasing one.
8. Set Up Your ATMs.
Follow this guide on how to set up an ATM.
You can install the ATM yourself or hire a professional. Just ensure the space is ADA-compliant, which means that people with disabilities should have no problem using and accessing it.
Generally, an ATM’s buttons should not be over 48 inches from the ground, while the ground space must be at least 30 x 48 inches (or 10 square feet) to accommodate wheelchair users.
Your ATM also needs a power supply to function. Ensure you use a dedicated 110/115 15a outlet (no major appliances should be used).
Connect your ATM to a wireless communication device to monitor its location.
Purchasing a pre-programmed ATM is ideal because you only need to bolt it down and plug it. However, you can also install the program using videos and instruction manuals from your ATM provider or hire a professional technician.
Preparing the Cash
The cash your ATM can hold depends on the cassette you select. Cassettes are either fixed or removable and typically hold between 700 and 2,000 notes.
You can refill removable cassettes in an alternate, secure location. By contrast, you can only refill fixed cassettes onsite.
Generally, load your machine with $2,000 to $3,000 in cash. You can use your own money to vault the machine.
Next, monitor the activity to see if you need more or less and determine which denomination serves most users.
Although the standard denomination for an ATM is 20s, you may want to use lower denominations (5s or 10s) if your machine is near a laundromat/carwash or in a low-income neighborhood.
If you have partnered with merchants (e.g., retail stores), you may ask them to do the vaulting using their cash. Although this strategy saves you time, this extra responsibility means the merchant should have a bigger share of the ATM revenue.
Vaulting frequency depends on how much cash a machine can hold and how much activity it generates. Use a real-time online ATM monitoring app to predict better when and how much to load.
If you do the vaulting yourself, following an irregular schedule is ideal. You don’t want anyone to predict when you load the machine with cash.
Operating the ATM
Place your ATM in a well-lit space with no obstructions, and use video surveillance to deter thieves from installing skimmers.
You can do some maintenance yourself or delegate this to your partner-merchant. Here are some easy tasks that even a non-technician can perform:
Restocking receipt paper
Addressing certain error codes
However, some maintenance and repairs require more advanced diagnostic tools and support from a service technician.
9. Promote Your ATM Business.
Although a good portion of your business will come from casual passers-by, you should still invest in traditional and digital marketing to boost customer and brand awareness.
You need a website to showcase your business online 24/7. To maximize this platform, use chatbots to automate your support processes without hiring a customer service staff.
Also, make sure your website has these elements:
Company information (About Us)
Clean and mobile-friendly user interface
Theme that reflects your business’s branding
Meanwhile, you need a web hosting service provider for your website, databases, or any system. Think of them as companies that provide a rental space to store and power your site.
For hosting plans, we recommend BlueHost and HostGator.
Aside from digital platforms (website, social media, etc.), consider using these traditional marketing strategies:
10. Scale Your ATM Business.
Once you learn more about the ins and outs of the ministry, you may want to consider these business ventures.
ATM Site Locator
As a site locator, you negotiate with location owners on behalf of ATM operators. You can request a share of the surcharge from the ATM owner or a flat rate in exchange.
Some merchants, like convenience store owners, prefer having their ATM to working with an independent atm deployer (IAD). This is where an ATM vendor or salesperson steps in.
You can partner with other IADs and offer them cash vaulting services. The task involves visiting each machine and stocking it with cash.
As an ATM vaulter, you can charge a flat rate or create a customized fee based on the distance and travel time.
What Is an ATM Business?
The time you spend managing your ATM business depends on the number of your machines and your skill set. They must always be in working order and have enough cash to dispense 24/7 (ATMs require at least $2,000 weekly).
Here are some other things to help you better understand how the ATM business works.
How It Works
As an ATM operator, checking your machine daily is ideal to ensure it works properly. If you operate multiple machines and have a staff, you can divide your team’s time between administrative duties and building relationships with vendors and banks.
ATM owners can expect an average annual return of 35% – 70%. The more people use your machine to withdraw cash from their checking or savings accounts, the more money you make.
For example, imagine you have a location that handles five transactions daily on average. Using this computation, a single machine generates around $450 a month. Now, imagine you have multiple ATMS spread across your city.
Largest ATM Fleets
These banks operate the largest ATM fleets in the US:
JP Morgan Chase & Co. (17.5%)
Bank of America Corp. (15%)
Wells Fargo & Co. (12%)
PNC Bank (8.5%)
US Bancorp (5%)
Other banks and entities (42%)
Should You Own an ATM Business?
Here are the pros and cons to help you decide if ATM business is right for you.
|Passive income stream||High liability|
|Steady and predictable income||Monotonous work|
Passive and steady income: This business model requires little effort despite giving long-term steady gains.
Low maintenance: You don’t need many (or any employees) and don’t have to dedicate much time to operate your business.
Scalability: As you learn about the ins and outs of your business, you can ramp up the number of your ATMs to benefit from the economies of scale.
Flexibility: As an ATM operator, you can choose where you place your ATMs and who you work with.
High liability: Since your business deals with large amounts of money, there is a high risk of theft and property damage.
Limited strategy options: No amount of marketing strategies can help locations with low foot traffic. Simply put your success largely boils down to your ATM’s location.
Security threats: Criminals can easily use ATMs with no up-to-date software.
Varying regulations: You must meet local legal requirements to operate your ATMB business. For instance, if you want to start an ATM business in NYC, you may have to provide locking doors, video surveillance, and nighttime lighting.
ATM Business FAQs
Now that you know how to run an ATM business, these FAQs highlight the most important industry trends.
Are ATMs Profitable?
Is ATM business profitable? Yes. There is a consistently high demand for ATMs. On top of that, its maintenance and upkeep are relatively low, allowing you to keep a good portion of your revenue.
How Much Does It Cost To Start an ATM?
The initial investment for an ATM company costs $3,550 to $11,100 on average.
Which ATM franchise Is Best?
If you want increased scalability and lower overhead costs, an ATM franchise from these companies is a good option.
What Is the Future of ATM Business?
Despite the widespread use of mobile wallets and other digital banking methods, ATM ownership is far from obsolete. Their modern designs give them more functionalities.
Deposit and withdraw cash
Recharge prepaid mobile phones
Is It Hard to Start an ATM Business?
As with most businesses, starting an ATM requires some learning curve. However, in terms of the initial startup cost, it has a relatively low barrier to entry.
Do You Need an LLC for ATM Business?
Not necessarily. However, a limited liability company or LLC is a legal business entity that can protect your assets if your company faces a lawsuit from an unhappy client.
The Bottom Line
I hope my guide has taught you how to start an ATM business.
Remember to follow the steps in my guide to increase your chances of success and make the process smoother and easier.
If you don’t have the budget for an ATM business, consider starting an Amazon dropshipping business, which requires only minimal capital.