ATM Limits

Need More Cash than your Debit Card Allows (Right Now)?

ATM Frustration
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Getting cash is usually as easy as finding the nearest ATM. But what if you need a lot of cash? Daily ATM limits often prevent you from withdrawing more than several hundred dollars within any 24-hour period (a $300 to $500 limit is common).

Those limits are helpful for preventing large losses due to theft. They protect the bank – as well as you personally, if unauthorized withdrawals go unnoticed for too long – because the odds of recovering stolen cash are slim to none.

But there are plenty of legitimate situations that require $500 or more of cash: you might want to buy appliances or “toys” on Craigslist, or you might need to pay cash for an inexpensive automobile.

During banking hours, you can always walk into your bank and withdraw as much as you want from a teller. But what about weekends, evenings, and (numerous) other situations when that’s not an option? If you use an online-only bank, there are no bank branches for you.

Ask for a Raise

If you have the ability to plan ahead, try calling your bank and asking them to raise your ATM limit temporarily. As long as they’re comfortable that you are who you say you are, they might be willing to bump it up as high as a few thousand dollars. You won’t always have success requesting an increase, but it’s worth a shot.

Most ATM limit increases are temporary, but if you commonly need more than the maximum, you might be able to get a permanent increase.

Some banks set this up for you over the phone, while others allow you to request a new setting while logged into your account online.

Visit a Different Bank

If you simply can’t get to a branch of your own bank, go to a different bank. Ask about using your debit card to get a cash advance. Some banks charge a modest fee for the service if you’re not a customer, so find out how much it costs before you pull the trigger.

Your own bank might also charge a fee, but it’s probably a lot less than you’d pay to make multiple ATM withdrawals over multiple days.

If you use a credit union, things will be even easier. Many credit unions participate in shared branching, which allows you to make free withdrawals from your account using other credit unions nationwide.

Cash advances in branches still have limits, but they’re generally higher than limits at the ATM. Note that any withdrawals you already made at the ATM will probably also count against your daily in-branch limit.

Cash Back at the Store

You can also try to get cash back at grocery and convenience stores. The standard example is to buy a stick of gum and get as much cash as possible. Most stores limit cash back to relatively small amounts – you’re not going to get $1,000 – but that amount combined with the maximum you can pull from the ATM might get you what you need. If necessary, you can always try multiple cash back transactions (at different stores, which will be a pain), until you eventually hit your debit card’s daily purchase limit – often several thousand dollars or more.

Debit Card Cash Advances

This page describes cash advances you make with your debit card, but some of the same strategies might work with a credit card.

Of course, with a debit card, the funds come out of your checking account so it’s essential that you have funds available in your account.

Overdrawing your checking account can create serious problems. You run the risk of missing important payments that get automatically deducted from your account and bouncing checks (potentially resulting in overdraft charges). Make sure to keep your account balanced, and only withdraw money that you can afford to withdraw.

Getting cash advances with your credit card might be another option, but it’s an expensive one. Typically you’ll pay hefty fees and higher interest on that money than you pay for standard credit card purchases (plus there’s no grace period to avoid interest charges).