How to Start an ATM Business

Author Justin Gilmore

Whether you launch a side business to supplement your income or engage in business full-time, it’s always possible to generate good profits when starting an ATM business.

Consumers are constantly in need of cash, especially for brick-and-mortar retail stores, bars, restaurants, convenience stores and other types of small businesses. ATMs are fairly easy to set up, and when placed strategically, they provide an excellent source of passive income.

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For now, if you’re considering placing an ATM in your existing business or starting a standalone ATM business for yourself, here are a few basic steps to get you started.

To Own or Not to Own?

One of the first questions you’ll want to ask when starting an ATM business is whether or buy one or more machines outright or whether to let a third-party company place and manage your ATMs for you.

There are a number of reasons to consider purchasing your ATMs, not the least of which is that as an ATM owner you get to decide the surcharge and keep all the profits, and you’ll make more money per machine as a result.

The “downside” is that there’s more work involved in owning and managing your own machine, and you’ll need to learn a bit about ATM processing.

For this reason, some business owners find it more convenient to work with a turnkey ATM provider like National ATM. While the amount of profit per machine is less, it’s also a lot less work because the ATM company takes care of managing the machines and tracking the transactions. It allows you to enjoy the business benefits of ATM ownership without actually buying it — plus, it’s basically passive income for you since there’s little or no work involved.

Choosing the Right Type of ATM Machine for Your Business

Triton ATMThe next step is to decide which ATM machines would work best for your business. This decision hinges largely on where and how the machines will be placed.

ATM machines can be standalone, table-top, or permanently installed in the wall. They can be placed for outdoor use, and nowadays there are even wireless ATM machines available for locations where running a phone or data line would be inconvenient.

You may choose from a variety of models and types, depending on where the machines would best be placed. Our experts can help you make these decisions, as well.

Choosing the Right Locations for Your ATM Machines

When it comes to being a successful ATM operator, placing your machines is all about location, location, location. The better the location, the more ATM transactions you can generate, and the more money you can make. If people need cash and they can’t find or get to your machines easily, they will take their business elsewhere — usually to another ATM nearby.

Gas stations are a reliable place to find an ATM.
Gas stations are a reliable place for people to find an ATM.

You always want your machine to be situated in the easiest, most convenient place in the area to get to. When scouting locations, look for businesses with high foot traffic where people spend cash readily. For example, gas stations, convenience stores, bars, restaurants, and cash-only businesses are always great candidates for ATM placement.

In addition, choose ATM locations that are open to the public for as long as possible. A convenience store that is open 24 hours, for instance, is preferable to a gift shop that is open only part-time. (You can’t make money if customers can’t get to your machines.)

Of course, choosing the right business is just part of the equation; you also want to find the optimal location inside those businesses. Try to place each machine in a well-lit, high traffic area within each business, preferably near the checkout area or along a major walkway. You’ll need electrical access, and depending on the type of machine, you may also need access to a phone line. Here’s where you’ll want to develop good negotiating skills with business owners as to where and how you place the machines, perhaps offering them a percentage of the surcharge fee as a tradeoff for making room in a high-profile area of their store.

Big festivals often need mobile ATMs.
Music festivals and other big events often need mobile ATMs.

Another excellent business strategy for ATM placement is to place mobile ATMs in high traffic areas of large events — for example, trade shows, expos, fairs, music festivals, etc. Attendees of these events often need cash for vending, rides, merchandise tables, and so on, and they are more than eager to use the nearest ATM. (Some ATM operators find they can generate enough surcharge revenue from a handful of these events to carry them through the rest of the year.)

Deciding Transaction Fees

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make as an ATM business owner is the amount of your surcharge fee. While this might not seem like a huge decision, setting your transaction fees can be a real balancing act. Set them too high, and you could discourage people from using your machine, but set them too low, and you could cut into your own profits too deeply.

There is no set rule for how to decide the amount of your surcharge (and it may differ according to location), but the following factors may come into play:

  • The average transaction fees for your particular area (i.e., what ATM users are accustomed to paying)
  • What your competition is charging
  • Your own overhead costs (e.g., ATM insurance, ATM processing fees, etc.)
  • How many parties are getting a “cut” of the fee (for example, if you’re sharing a percentage with host businesses)

In the end, you want to set transaction fees at a “sweet spot” where they are attractive to potential customers while still helping you generate an acceptable amount of passive income.

Create a Business Plan

Every business startup should have a well-crafted business plan. As you make these and other decisions, make sure you put them down in a business plan that outlines the key strategies regarding your company: How you will be structured, why you are going into this business, how you plan to make a profit, and so on. This plan will not only serve as a compass to guide your future decisions — it will help potential investors understand how they will get a return on their investment.

Security Concerns

Because ATM machines are basically portable banks with cash inside, when considering how to start an ATM business, you always want to be proactive when it comes to security and preventing theft. For these reasons, we recommend the following safeguards, among others:

  • Place your ATMs in locations that are easy to monitor, either visually or by security cameras.
  • Use ATM machines that are equipped with EMV chip readers to give users added security.
  • Invest in ATM insurance to protect you against loss from direct theft, vandalism, or liability issues.
  • Choose an ATM from among the more reputable brands like HyosungTriton, or Genmega. We can also provide insights on the most secure ATM models so you can rest assured your investment is kept safe., LLC is ready to partner with you to help ensure your ATM business is a success, which is why we’ve developed a complete ATM business course that provides all the instruction you need to develop a 6-figure passive income with no capital outlay.

Click here to learn more about the course and to enroll. For more information, call us 1-866-295-2329.