ATM Withdrawal Limits

Woman using ATM
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It's increasingly rare to use cash but sometimes you will, and you might need more than the automated teller machine (ATM) daily withdrawal allowance (typically $300 or $500). In many cases involving private purchases from an individual, cash is the only accepted way to pay. Planning ahead can spare you headaches and inconvenience.

Reasons for Withdrawal Limits

At most banks, requests to take a large sum of cash out of the ATM present a problem because they only keep a fraction of their total deposits on hand in cash. Banks also limit ATM withdrawals in case someone steals your ATM card, knows your PIN, and tries to clean out your account. Federal law protects you to a degree, but requires prompt reporting of a theft or unauthorized activity. If the account were wiped out on the first day, it could be devastating.

Which Accounts Have Limits

Most people can access both their checking and savings accounts through an ATM, but banks only apply the withdrawal limits to checking accounts. You can take larger amounts out of an ATM from your savings, although savings accounts have a federally-mandated limit of just six withdrawal transactions per month. Some accounts, such as student accounts, may have even lower limits as a way to help students manage their spending.

Maximum Daily Withdrawal Limits Vary

If you often need larger sums of cash, it pays to ask about daily ATM limits when choosing your bank. Wells Fargo Bank, for example, only allows $300 daily cash withdrawals. On the other hand, Bank of America allows up to $1,000 per day, and Citibank allows up to $2,000 per day in ATM withdrawals.

Ways to Get More Money

You can bypass the withdrawal limit if you go to a bank, and, instead of using your debit card, use a credit card for a cash advance. You don't even have to go to your own bank; any bank can accommodate you, although they may charge a fee for this service. It's expensive to use a credit card to get cash because most card issuers start to charge interest immediately—at a higher rate than for purchases.

You may have a few other options, including requesting cash back at a grocery store or gas station.

Be aware that debit cards often have daily limits on in-store transactions as well. If you attempt to receive a large amount of cash back at a store, and even if you want to make a large purchase directly from the store, you might find you're still subject to certain limits on how much you can spend.

To prevent yourself from getting in a tight situation in the future, you can ask your bank to raise your ATM withdrawal limit. Of course, this depends on the maximum that your bank allows.

It's a good idea to find out your bank's daily ATM withdrawal limits long before you need cash quickly. If you anticipate getting caught in a cash squeeze, switch to a bank that meets your needs.