Access your account with your smartphone using cardless ATMs

Use your phone to withdraw cash from ATMs when you don't have your debit card.

Last updated:

Some of the top banks have found a way to make accessing your cash even easier. With secure apps installed on your mobile phone, you can access your digital wallet to withdraw the money from an ATM. Your phone is already at your fingertips – now your cash will be too.

As of 2019, cardless ATMs are not yet widely available in Canada. However, there is general interest in bringing this technology to Canada. Much of the information in this article has been based on how the technology was implemented in the US.

What are cardless ATMs and how do they work?

Cardless cash works by providing you with a unique code that you enter into an ATM to withdraw cash when you don’t have your card. This is beneficial if you’re on a run, at the beach, at an amusement park or anywhere else you don’t want to carry a card. You can even share your code with friends or family members so they can withdraw money when you’re not there.

Common questions about cardless ATMs

How do banks ensure cardless cash transactions are secure?

Generally, cardless ATM withdrawals can be even more secure than using a card. That’s because you not only have to enter a PIN number like you normally would with a card, but the app on your phone will usually require additional security measures for access, like a fingerprint scan.

It’s a good idea to double check your security settings. Test the relevant app and check what security measures are in place to ensure that no one else can use the app to gain access to your account.

How easy is it to use the app?

It is hard to beat the ease of sliding a card into a machine, entering a code and pulling out your cash. However, the app is easy in it’s own way because you don’t have to rummage through a stuffed wallet to find your card.

How extensive is the ATM network?

You’ll have to check with your bank to see which of their ATMs offer this technology. As this technology gets rolled out across Canada, more and more older ATM machines will be replaced with ones that are NFC (near field communication)-enabled. Since this app requires some pre-planning, you don’t want to get your code and then have no ATM to use it at.

Does your device work with the app?

This is something you’ll have to verify based on your phone type and software. You’re probably going to be ok if you have the latest software downloaded on a relatively new phone. If you’re unsure how to check your compatibility, you can always visit your cell phone provider.

Are there sharing options?

There will usually be an option for someone to pick up the cash on your behalf. In some cases, you just need to provide the app with the appropriate person’s mobile phone number.

Are there limits on cardless cash withdrawals?

You may be limited to the amount of money you can withdraw daily from your account.

Is a time limit applied?

Banks may impose a time limit as an added security measure. You’ll have to check for your own transactions how long the code is valid for after receiving it. Some banks only keep the code valid for 30 minutes.

What are the benefits of using cardless cash?

  • The convenience of traveling light. With cardless cash, you have the ability to travel light when the occasion calls for it.
  • In cases of emergencies. You can continue to access your cash even if you’ve left your wallet at home.
  • You can share it with your trusted family and friends. This makes it easier to give family members limited access to the account when they need it. Rather than paying for extra debit cards or worrying about how much they withdraw, you can control their spending by using the app.
  • No additional costs for using it. The app works the same as a debit card when withdrawing money. As long as you’re using ATMs in your bank’s network, you should not be charged any additional fees.
  • Increased security. In some ways, the app provides more security as the code is for one use only, rather than a debit card which prompts you for the same code each time you use it.

What are the drawbacks of using cardless cash?

  • If the ATM network is down, you will not be able to use the code to withdraw money until it is up and running again.

Security tips when using cardless cash

With any product or device that provides access to your money, either on or offline, you need to be careful about its security. To best protect your money when using cardless cash, avoid the following:

  • Protect your online banking details

Never share the password to your online bank account. With the password, people could gain access to your cardless cash details and make withdrawals without your consent.

  • Monitor suspicious transactions on your account

Although banks take precautions to protect your information, there is always the possibility of a hack. If you notice unauthorized withdrawals from your account using cardless cash, notify the bank immediately.

Read more on this topic

  • WHO recommends using contactless payments In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, it's important to be careful what you touch, including money, according to WHO.
  • A-Z list of chequing account reviews Check out this alphabetical list of Finder's reviews of Canada's big banks, apps, and challenger banks that offer chequing account products.
  • What is interest? Your guide to learning APR vs. APY Compare your options and learn how to find the most competitive interest rates.
  • Compare digital wallets Learn how they work, where they work and what devices they work on. Plus, compare the top digital wallets currently on the market.
  • Revolut vs. N26 We take a closer look at two of the major "challenger banks". Is Revolut or N26 the better bet?
  • Revolut app and debit card review Is Revolut's app-only bank the solution for you? We talk about the account, Revolut app. Read our review to get the low down on another challenger bank.
  • Mint app review Mint helps you keep track of your bills, budget and balances — learn how it works and see if it's a good choice for a personal financial tool.
  • N26 Bank Is N26 bank the right account for you? Learn how it works, what features it offers and how to get on the waiting list.
  • Compare digital banks in Canada A challenger bank is a newer type of bank that's 100% digital. Learn how it works, what to expect and which new banks are launching and growing in Canada.
  • Teen debit cards and bank accounts Many banks offer accounts for teens where they can get their own debit card and begin saving. See how these accounts work and compare options.

Ask an Expert

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Go to site