12 Things to Know Before Buying Bitcoin at an ATM

12 Things to Know Before Buying Bitcoin at an ATM

Bitcoin ATMs, commonly referred to as BTMs, have revolutionized the process of acquiring Bitcoin, offering convenience and user-friendliness in the digital space. However, for first-time users and novice investors, grasping the intricacies of these ATMs is essential before engaging in Bitcoin transactions like “Buying Bitcoin” or “Selling Bitcoin”.

In this guide, we will provide a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know before purchasing Bitcoin at an ATM. 

Key Takeaways

  • Bitcoin ATMs allow users to buy and sell Bitcoin using cash, operating differently from traditional ATMs which connect to bank accounts.
  • There are unidirectional machines for buying or selling Bitcoin and bi-directional machines that support both functions.
  • Bitcoin ATM fees are higher than traditional ATM and online exchange fees, typically ranging from 7% to 20% per transaction.
  • Bitcoin ATMs are widely available in various locations; websites like CoinTime can help locate nearby ATMs and provide fee details.
  • Bitcoin ATMs facilitate crypto purchases by connecting to the Bitcoin network, often requiring identity verification for larger transactions.
  • To use a Bitcoin ATM, you’ll need a Bitcoin wallet, identification for larger amounts, cash or a card, and your wallet’s Bitcoin address.
  • Selling Bitcoin at an ATM involves entering the amount to sell, sending Bitcoin to a provided address, and then receiving cash once the transaction is confirmed.
  • Bitcoin ATMs can be targets for scams; users should be cautious of fraudulent schemes and ensure transactions are conducted securely.

Want to Use Bitcoin ATMs Near You?

Find the nearest Bitcoin ATM and dive into detailed insights on how they work. 

What are Bitcoin ATMs?

What are Bitcoin ATMs
What are Bitcoin ATMs

A Bitcoin ATM allows users to buy cryptocurrency by directly depositing cash into a machine. While these machines resemble traditional bank ATMs, they operate differently. 

A traditional ATM connects to your bank account to authorize cash withdrawals. Many Bitcoin ATMs, on the other hand, only allow cash deposits to purchase Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. 

Newer models may also enable users to exchange Bitcoin for fiat currency and dispense cash. Unlike traditional ATMs that complete transactions almost instantly, Bitcoin ATM transactions can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to finalize.

Types of Bitcoin ATMs

There are two main types of Bitcoin ATMs:

  • Unidirectional Machines: These one-way machines support either the purchase or sale of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but not both. Most Bitcoin ATMs fall into this category, with most only allowing the purchase of Bitcoin.
  • Bi-directional Machines: These machines support both the buying and selling of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Fees

Bitcoin ATM fees are generally higher than those charged by traditional ATMs or online cryptocurrency exchanges. 

While a regular bank ATM may charge a small flat fee, Bitcoin ATMs typically charge a fee based on a percentage of the transaction value. These fees can vary widely depending on the operator and location, ranging from 7% to 20% per transaction to cover for extra expenses such as renting, maintenance, security and conversion fees.

In contrast, online cryptocurrency exchanges often charge less than 1.5% per transaction for highly liquid currencies like Bitcoin.

Where to Find Bitcoin ATMs

With over 35,000 Bitcoin ATMs installed globally, finding Bitcoin ATM near you is relatively straightforward.

Bitcoin ATMs can often be found in various places such as cafes, gas stations, airport terminals, and specialty shops. 

a picture containing Coin time bitcoin atm map locator in USA
a picture containing Coin time bitcoin atm map locator in USA

To locate a Bitcoin ATM near you and check the fees they charge, log into the CoinTime website.

You will then enter your location and the website will automatically show the nearest Bitcoin ATMs, their address and give you directions to follow.

A photo showing the CoinTime Bitcoin ATM locator

How do Bitcoin ATMs Work?

Bitcoin ATMs, better described as Bitcoin kiosks, allow customers to buy cryptocurrencies by depositing cash. 

Unlike traditional ATMs, they do not dispense cash or connect to a bank account but instead connect to the Bitcoin network to facilitate crypto purchases. 

Most Bitcoin ATMs set transaction limits on the amount of cash that can be deposited. In the United States, operators must register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and comply with anti-money laundering regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). 

Jurisdiction

Total Amount With KYC

Total Amount Without KYC

Financial Authority

USA

$3,000 – $10,000

$300 – $900

FinCEN

CANADA

$5,000 – $10,000

$300 – $900

Fintrac

EUROPE

€3,000 – €10,000

€150

Depends on State

Australia

$3,000 – $10,000

AUSTRAC

Depending on the transaction size, users may need to verify their identity through a mobile phone number or a government-issued ID. Once verified, the user completes the purchase, and the cryptocurrency is sent to their digital wallet.  

What you need to buy Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM

To buy Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM, you usually need the following:

  • Bitcoin Wallet: A digital wallet is essential to store the purchased Bitcoins securely. You can use a mobile wallet app or a hardware wallet device for this purpose.
  • Identification For Larger Amounts: For larger transactions, some Bitcoin ATMs may require identification for verification purposes. A valid form of photo ID and address may be necessary to complete the transaction.
  • Payment Method: You’ll need cash or a debit/credit card to purchase Bitcoin at the ATM. Insert the cash or card into the machine to initiate the transaction.
  • Bitcoin Address (QR Code): To receive the purchased Bitcoin, you’ll need to provide your wallet’s public address. This address is usually displayed as a QR code, which the ATM will scan to complete the transaction.

How to buy Bitcoin from a Bitcoin ATM – Buying Bitcoin Guide

The first step is to locate the closest Bitcoin ATM to you. Visit the CoinTime website and enter your location. From here, you will receive directions to get to the closest Bitcoin ATM. Then do the following:

  1. Step 1: Choose the ‘Buy Bitcoin’ Option:  Once at the BTM, you will see a welcome screen with several options. For this case, select the ‘Buy Bitcoin’ option on the ATM screen.
  2. Step 2: Provide a Bitcoin Address:  This is the address where the purchased Bitcoin will be sent. You can provide this address in two ways either by scanning the QR code on your mobile Bitcoin wallet or using a public address from a paper wallet.
  3. Step 3: Input Cash:  Insert the cash or swipe your card on the ATM. The screen will display the amount of Bitcoin you will receive for the cash deposited.
  4. Step 4: Confirm Transaction: Review the transaction details displayed on the screen. If all the details are correct, confirm the transaction.
  5. Step 5: Get a Transaction Receipt:  Once the transaction is processed, the Bitcoin ATM will print a receipt. This receipt includes transaction details and can be useful if there is an issue.

How to sell Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM – Selling Bitcoin Guide

If you are looking to sell Bitcoin, the process is quite similar to buying, but with the exemption of receiving cash by selling your Bitcoin at the Bitcoin ATM:

  1. Step 1: Enter the Amount to Sell: On the welcome screen, press on the “Sell Bitcoin” option. Once you decide how much Bitcoin you want to sell, enter the amount and press Enter. 
  2. Step 2: Send Bitcoin to the Provided Address: The Bitcoin ATM will generate a Bitcoin address for your transaction. Scan the QR code of the provided address using your Bitcoin wallet app and send the Bitcoin to that address.
  3. Step 3: Take Your Cash: Once the Bitcoin ATM receives the Bitcoin, it will dispense your cash. Note that this generally takes a few minutes.

You can monitor the status of the transaction using your Bitcoin wallet app to ensure the process is completed.

How to Increase Limits at Bitcoin ATMs

To increase the transaction limits at Bitcoin ATMs, consumers typically need to provide additional information to comply with regulatory requirements. 

Here’s a breakdown of the steps and information needed to increase these limits:

Basic Transaction Limits

For transactions at or below the basic limit, consumers usually need to provide minimal information such as their name and undergo phone verification.

Intermediate Transaction Limits

To increase the limit, customers can provide additional personal information. This typically includes:

  • Government-issued ID
  • Date of birth
  • Occupation
  • Social security number

The company may also conduct wallet risk scoring before approving the increased limit.

High Transaction Limits (Up to $50,000 or more)

For significantly higher limits, such as transactions up to $50,000, customers must provide more comprehensive information, including:

  • Annual income
  • Overall net worth
  • Source of funds

The operator will verify the customer’s address before completing the transaction.

Scams Involving Bitcoin ATMs

Bitcoin ATMs have become targets for various scams due to the irreversible and largely unregulated nature of blockchain-based payments. 

One common type of scam involves online marketplaces where scammers advertise items for sale at significantly discounted prices on platforms like eBay, Craigslist, or Gumtree. 

Typically, scammers direct buyers to deposit funds into a Bitcoin ATM and send the crypto to the scammers’ wallet address. Once the transaction is completed, the scammers vanish, leaving the buyers without the purchased goods.  

Another prevalent scam involving Bitcoin ATMs targets individuals seeking employment. Scammers offer trial work opportunities, where they send money to the victim’s bank account and instruct them to withdraw the funds. 

The victim is then told to convert the withdrawn money into Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM and transfer the cryptocurrency to the scammers’ address. However, a few days later, the money sent to the victim’s bank account is reversed because it originated from a stolen account. This leaves the victim’s account with a negative balance.  

Are Bitcoin ATMs Safe?

While Bitcoin ATMs offer convenience and accessibility for users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, they also pose certain risks.  

Scammers, fraudsters, cybercriminals, and money launderers may exploit the anonymity and ease of use provided by Bitcoin ATMs to carry out illicit activities.

Due to the limited identification verification requirements, individuals can anonymously convert fiat currency into Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies at Bitcoin ATMs. This anonymity makes it challenging to trace and monitor transactions, increasing the risk of money laundering and other financial crimes. 

Furthermore, the lack of stringent regulatory oversight and compliance measures at some Bitcoin ATM locations exacerbates these concerns.

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Advantages and disadvantages of Bitcoin ATMs

Advantages of Bitcoin ATMs

  1. Accessibility: Bitcoin ATMs are easily accessible in various locations, including regions with limited access to online cryptocurrency exchanges.
  2. User-friendly Interface: The user interfaces of Bitcoin ATMs are designed to be intuitive, making them suitable for newcomers to cryptocurrencies.
  3. Privacy: Some Bitcoin ATMs allow users to purchase Bitcoin with minimal personal information, providing a degree of privacy.
  4. Speed: Buying Bitcoin through a Bitcoin ATM can be faster than through online exchanges that require identity verification and account setup.
  5. Payment Options: Users can buy Bitcoin with cash or credit/debit cards, eliminating the need for a bank account.
  6. Availability: Bitcoin ATMs operate 24/7, providing access to cryptocurrencies at any time.
  7. Cash Conversion: Users can convert physical cash into digital assets conveniently.
  8. Wallet Creation: Some Bitcoin ATMs provide the option to create a cryptocurrency wallet, offering added convenience.
  9. Increasing Adoption: As Bitcoin adoption grows, more Bitcoin ATMs are appearing worldwide.

Disadvantages of Bitcoin ATMs

  1. Limited Availability: Bitcoin ATMs are not as widespread as traditional ATMs, limiting accessibility in some areas.
  2. Higher Transaction Fees: Bitcoin ATMs often charge higher transaction fees than online exchanges.
  3. Transaction Limits: Bitcoin ATMs often limit how much users can buy or sell in a single transaction.
  4. Security Concerns: Some Bitcoin ATMs may be susceptible to theft, fraud, or tampering, posing security risks to users.
  5. Regulatory Restrictions: Some regions may impose strict regulations on Bitcoin ATMs, affecting their availability and usage.

Final Thoughts

Bitcoin ATMs offer a straightforward and expedient method for purchasing Bitcoin, catering to those seeking quick access to the leading cryptocurrency. 

Despite their convenience, users should be aware of the associated high transaction fees and security considerations inherent to Bitcoin ATMs. 

As with any financial transaction involving cryptocurrencies, conducting thorough research and selecting a reputable service provider are paramount to ensure a positive and secure experience.

FAQs

Typically, you’ll need a Bitcoin wallet address to receive the purchased Bitcoin and cash to deposit into the ATM.

Depending on the ATM’s operator and local regulations, you may also need to provide identification for verification, especially for larger transactions.

First, locate a nearby Bitcoin ATM using a service like CoinTime.

Then, approach the machine and follow the on-screen instructions to select the “Buy Bitcoin” option, provide your Bitcoin wallet address, deposit cash, confirm the transaction details, and collect the receipt.

Some disadvantages include higher transaction fees compared to online exchanges, limited availability in certain regions, potential security vulnerabilities, and the requirement for cash transactions only.

Depending on the ATM’s operator and local regulations, you may or may not need to provide identification.

For smaller transactions, you might only need to provide a phone number for verification, while larger transactions may require photo ID and additional personal information.

Bitcoin ATM fees vary depending on the operator and location. Typically, fees range from 7% to 20% per transaction.

For a $1,000 transaction, you could expect to pay around $70 to $200 in fees.

To buy Bitcoin with cash at a Bitcoin ATM, simply follow the instructions displayed on the machine’s screen, which typically involve selecting the “Buy Bitcoin” option, providing your Bitcoin wallet address, depositing cash, and confirming the transaction.

Bitcoin ATMs are primarily used for buying Bitcoin rather than sending money. However, some ATMs may offer the option to send Bitcoin to another wallet address.

You would need to select the “Send Bitcoin” option, enter the recipient’s wallet address, and follow the prompts to complete the transaction.

Bitcoin ATMs primarily facilitate buying and selling Bitcoin rather than traditional cash withdrawals.

However, if you’re selling Bitcoin for cash at an ATM, you would follow similar steps to buying Bitcoin, but in reverse.

You’d select the “Sell Bitcoin” option, provide the necessary information, send the Bitcoin to the ATM’s address, and collect the cash.

Bitcoin ATMs in the USA primarily facilitate buying and selling Bitcoin rather than sending money directly to individuals.

To send money using Bitcoin, you would need to purchase Bitcoin from an ATM, transfer it to the recipient’s Bitcoin wallet address, and then they could convert it back to cash if needed.

Ahmed Yousuf is a cryptocurrency content creator with over 6 years of experience. He combines his SEO expertise and crypto knowledge to write informative articles for both beginners and crypto pros.

Anwar is a digital marketing consultant with deep cryptocurrency knowledge and a successful background in the Bitcoin ATM industry. He leverages his 10+ years of experience to provide valuable insights on BTMs trends & regulations.

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