Typically, UK banks offer free cash machines in their branches and some other locations, while fee-charging machines owned and managed by independent ATM deployers (IADs), for example Moneybox, Cardpoint and Hanco, tend to be located in petrol stations, bars, newsagents and other more remote locations. Non-bank providers charge consumers to use their cash machines.
By the end of 2004 there were 22,856 surcharching machines, representing 42% of all cash machines in the UK. Surcharging is broadly restricted to non bank-owned terminals although there are some surcharging cash machines owned by two banks.
However, surcharging cash machines handle only about 5% of the total number of withdrawals, which indicates that people are well aware of the charges and "vote with their feet" by using a cash machine that is free.
A notice on the outside of the cash machine alerts consumers to the fact that it charges a fee, typically about £1.50 per withdrawal. In addition, an on-screen message tells users that if they withdraw cash a fee will be incurred.
All cash machines in the UK access the LINK network. If you use a machine other than one owned by your own bank the transaction will be routed to the LINK network to obtain an authorisation from your bank. The organisation owning the cash machine you are using will subsequently be reimbursed for the money you have taken and your bank will be charged a small fee by LINK.
Irrespective of who owns the cash machine, or where it is located, it is your bank that will be able to follow up any disputes that you may have with a particular ATM.
The following tips will help to minimise the chances of becoming a victim:
- Put your personal safety first.
- Be aware of others around you. If someone close to the cash machine is behaving suspiciously or makes you feel uncomfortable, choose another.
- If there is anything unusual about the cash machine, or there are signs of tampering, do not use the machine and report it to the bank immediately.
- Give others space to enter their PIN in private — we recommend standing about two metres away from the user in front of you until they have completed their transaction.
- If someone is crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction and go to another machine.
- Do not accept help from strangers or allow yourself to be distracted.
- Stand close to the machine and shield the keypad to prevent anyone seeing your PIN.
- Once you have completed a transaction, discreetly put your money and card away before leaving the machine.
- If the cash machine does not return your card, report the loss immediately to your bank.
- Tear up or preferably shred your receipts, mini-statements or balance enquiries when you dispose of them.
- If I get money out of a cash machine that isn't owned by my bank when will these funds be debited from my account?
- The debit would usually take place the next working day, although your bank will have allocated funds for this debit at the time you made the withdrawal.
LINK Interchange Network Ltd operates the LINK cash machine (ATM) network in the UK. There is an ATM locator on their website (www.link.co.uk).