How do I Choose the Best ATM Signs?

wiseGEEK Writer

In the simplest definition, an ATM sign is attached to an automated teller machine, and these can convey different information to consumers about types of ATM cards accepted, while also providing eye-catching details that make people more likely to locate and choose a specific machine. In many more cases, what is meant by ATM signs is the symbols that may be printed on cards that signify which financial institutions other than the principal bank accept the cards. It is this second definition that most concerns both consumers and financial institutions, and requires some choice.

A large, clear sign should be used to mark the location of the machine.
A large, clear sign should be used to mark the location of the machine.

In places like the US, people may be used to seeing various symbols on their cards like the Plus®, Star® or Cirrus® symbols. These correlate to a network of financial institutions that will accept these cards, at minimal or no fee. Such symbols can be especially useful to choose for both banks and consumers. They expand the service of the bank to a much wider network.

If people are traveling in an area with no local branch of their bank, they’ll have to find another ATM machine that takes their card. By possessing different ATM signs or symbols, they’ll essentially be able to use any other bank-owned or private ATM that shows a matching symbol. This isn’t always free, though some banks do have free ATM use for any customers using a machine in a specific network.

Another couple of symbols that may be used almost anywhere are Visa® and MasterCard® ATM signs. With this insignia, most people use their ATM cards like credit cards at any vendor that accepts Visa® or MasterCard®. This is a very common feature of the modern ATM card and significantly increases its functionality. It’s well worth looking for a card with this feature.

As for determining which additional symbols might be useful, it can help to get a list from a financial institution of other banks and ATM machines that also employ this symbol. This gives people a good sense of how big the network is that they can access.

If people travel to specific locations regularly, they may want to view the number of available machines or banks in those locations associated with different ATM signs. This could help people determine which bank is most attractive, based on the types of ATM signs offered. Many banks offer more than one association to make it as easy as possible for consumers to find a cash machine, no matter where they are.

An additional insignia can represent that the bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance, which reduces fees associated with withdrawing money in many foreign countries. Those who travel outside of their countries may want to choose banks with this association in order to save money, and this may make it much easier to find and withdraw cash without international fees being assessed. This doesn’t mean that other fees like per use or currency exchange fees won’t be charged.

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