From new products to strategies to increase sales leads, business owners should always be on the lookout for ways to make more money. Some businesses owners look to ATMs (automated teller machine) to increase passive income.
Brick-and-mortar businesses, such as restaurants, gas stations or nail salons, may benefit from having an ATM. It can attract more customers and make money for your business. But how profitable is an ATM?
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How to make money with an ATM machine
When people use an ATM, they typically pay a small fee between $2 and $3, and that's how businesses make most of their money through ATM.
"When a business allows an ATM to be placed at their location, they have the opportunity to earn a commission," said Paul Carriere, attorney at Favret Carriere Cronvich. "The simplest way to conceptualize earning a commission is when a person uses an ATM, there is a 'surcharge,' a fee for using the ATM."
However, business owners typically don't receive the whole fee. If you rent the ATM machine, the business that maintains the machine (fills it with cash, repairs it, etc.) receives some of the money. "There are a number of variations on the split, but the business earns money based on the surcharge transactions," Carriere added.
While businesses can make money through the fees, some business owners look for other ways to use ATMs to make money and are running ads on them.
"Companies are placing screens on top of ATMs and selling ads to run on those machines," Carriere said. "This can increase revenue for ATM operators and locations."
Expenses associated with ATMs
It's not free to operate or own an ATM – you can rent or buy one. While it's more expensive to buy an ATM, you receive a higher commission per surcharge transaction.
Buying an ATM: ATMs can cost anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000, depending on if you buy a used or new machine. While buying a used machine is cheaper, they're usually slower and look older, and because of that, many people might not use the ATM, believing it is untrustworthy.
When purchasing an ATM, there are different types to consider, such as a countertop or freestanding model. The type also affects the price of the machine. If you're interested in buying an ATM and want more information, read this ATM buying guide on our sister website Business.com.
However, if you buy your own ATM, you're responsible for maintaining it, including keeping it loaded with cash and making sure it's working properly. "Someone can buy the ATM outright … and place [it] in a location they own," said Brad Daniel, chief executive officer of America's ATM. "They can load money from their business into the ATM, cutting out a third party, which reduces costs."
Daniel said self-service or buying your own ATM is very profitable, and between 15 and 30 transactions a month yield a high return. "[It's] a great secondary source of income that could equal between anywhere between $20,000 and $30,000 extra per year," he said.
Full-service programs: If you don't want to buy an ATM or worry about maintaining it, you can participate in a full-service program where a retailer maintains it, but this costs money.
"The ATM is put in a retail location, then cash is loaded," Daniel said. "The largest cost associated with this is rent to the retailer. The rent is usually a percentage of the service charge. That is the retailer's 'rate' or 'commission.'"