Did you know that there are now over 39,000 Bitcoin ATM locations worldwide? Nearly 9 in 10 are in the U.S., with 34,299 cryptocurrency teller machines. Canada ranks second, accounting for 6.3% of the market, with 2,461 ATMs installed.
So if you’re in North America, you’ll likely find one or more of these electronic kiosks near your home or office. If so, and you’re part of the 61% of U.S. adults who want to buy crypto this 2022, now may be a good time to do so. After all, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) is still low after its all-time high in November 2021.
But how exactly do you use Bitcoin ATMs? How do you locate them, and what factors should you consider before using one?
Below, we’ll discuss the facts you need to know about Bitcoin ATMs. So read on, as you can use what you learn here to make the right choices and use these machines correctly.
1. Understand the Bitcoin ATM Lingo
When you use a Bitcoin ATM to buy or sell crypto, it will ask for your crypto wallet. And if you want to send crypto to another person, the machine will ask you for the recipient’s address. You then have to pay various ATM fees for each transaction you make.
Bitcoin ATMs may also have limits, depending on your transaction. Additionally, some of these machines are unidirectional, while others are bi-directional.
All those terminologies can be confusing, especially for a first-time Bitcoin ATM user. That’s why it’s vital to have some basic understanding of the jargon first.
All cryptocurrencies, including the ones you own, live on the blockchain. Crypto wallets are only digital wallets designed to store cryptocurrency records.
Crypto wallets give you access to your crypto balances. That then allows you to monitor your digital assets.
There are many types of crypto wallets, but if you plan to use Bitcoin ATMs a lot, go for a mobile wallet. That way, you can access your crypto anytime, as long as you have your smartphone. They also provide the Q.R. codes representing your cryptocurrency address.
Those are the same Q.R. codes you need to scan into Bitcoin ATMs. They allow the machines to send the crypto you buy to the correct address, which is your crypto wallet.
When choosing a crypto wallet, consider the software’s supported cryptocurrencies. Remember: BTC isn’t the only cryptocurrency out there; there are over 21,000 others. To expand your portfolio, consider using a mobile app providing support not only for BTC but also for:
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Tether (USDT)
- U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC)
- Binance Coin (BNB)
- Cardano (ADA)
- Solana (SOL)
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Shiba Inu (SHIB)
So even if you decide to invest in multiple currencies, you’d only need one crypto wallet to track all of them.
Recipient’s Crypto Address
A recipient’s address is another person’s crypto wallet.
For example, suppose you have a friend requesting you to send them BTC. They can generate a Q.R. code from their crypto wallet and send that to you.
Then, when using a Bitcoin ATM, you scan your friend’s Q.R. code. That ensures the machine knows where exactly to send the crypto.
Bitcoin ATM Transaction Fees
When you use a Bitcoin ATM, expect to get charged operator and miner fees.
Operator fees help Bitcoin ATM operators to cover their machines’ operating costs. These include hardware and software maintenance, compliance, rent, and support.
Miner fees are payments made to miners, entities generating new crypto. Miners own extremely powerful computers connected to the blockchain. They’re responsible for validating crypto transactions and ensuring they push through.
Considering that miners work constantly, they deserve fees for their services. That’s why they get paid for each transaction, such as whenever people buy, sell, or trade Bitcoin.
Bitcoin ATM fees vary widely; some charge as low as 4%, while others demand as high as 20%.
Bitcoin ATM Limits
Like traditional bank ATMs, Bitcoin ATMs also set minimum and maximum limits.
For example, some crypto ATMs may have a minimum of between $5 and $20. So if you use an ATM with a $5 minimum, your transaction must not be under $5.
Maximum limits are the highest transaction amount you can do in an ATM, usually per day. For example, some operators allow only a max of $3,000, while others let you buy or sell crypto worth up to $9,000 daily.
Many Bitcoin ATM operators let you bypass their max limits if you register with them.
Unidirectional vs. Bi-Directional Bitcoin ATMs
Unidirectional Bitcoin ATMs support one-way transactions, either buying or selling. However, most of these machines only allow you to purchase crypto.
Bi-directional ATMs support two-way transactions. You can use these to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. Since they allow sales, most also let you withdraw money by selling some of your digital assets.
You can also use bi-directional Bitcoin ATMs to send crypto to other crypto users.
2. Use Websites Tracking Bitcoin ATM Locations
Now that you know more about Bitcoin ATM jargon, the next step is to find machine locations near you. One of the easiest ways to do that is to use Bitcoin ATM location tracking sites.
A perfect example is Coin ATM Radar, which lists crypto ATM locations worldwide. It also lets you search using filters, such as specific countries and the crypto the ATMs support. It even allows you to locate unidirectional or bi-directional machines.
3. List ATM Operator or Manufacturer Names
Make a list of the ATM operators/manufacturers that Bitcoin ATM tracking sites give you. Then, visit their websites and use their provided online locator tool. Doing so allows you to further narrow down your search using your specific city.
For example, if you have a look at this site, you’ll see dozens of crypto ATMs in and near Chicago, IL.
Many operators also let you search for ATM locations using your specific address. Just key in your complete address, hit search, and you should get a list of all the crypto teller machines near you. Most of these results also link with Google Maps to give you directions to get there.
Look up reviews for each ATM operator/manufacturer, too. In particular, check their general credibility and uptime reliability.
Remember: Bitcoin ATMs are electronic and must remain connected to the Internet. Thus, if their locations always have power outages, they’re also prone to being offline. The same problem can occur if their Internet connection is unreliable.
4. Check the Bitcoin ATM Operators’ Requirements
Contrary to popular belief, cryptocurrencies aren’t 100% anonymous; they’re pseudonymous. That’s because your crypto wallet address serves as an alias during transactions.
Bitcoin ATMs must still verify your identity, which is for your security. Since it requires identity verification, it’s not entirely anonymous.
For those reasons, most trustworthy Bitcoin ATMs require users to have a valid I.D. with a photo. They accept government-issued I.D.s, such as a driver’s license or a passport.
Many Bitcoin ATMs only allow cash transactions, so you must bring fiat currency. Bring extra for the teller machine’s fees. Otherwise, the ATM may deduct the charges from your transaction amount.
For example, suppose you want to purchase $100 worth of BTC, and the ATM fees total $15. In this case, you must deposit $115 into the machine’s cash receptacle. If you only place $100, the ATM will only let you buy $85 worth of BTC.
You should also prepare your mobile wallet app to generate your Q.R. code. Again, you’d need to scan this to “tell” the machine where to send the crypto you’re buying. If you’re selling, this code tells the ATM the address from which it must take the crypto.
5. Check Crypto Prices Before Using ATMs
Cryptocurrencies are very volatile, so their values can rise and fall every hour. Take Bitcoin as an example; at one point, its price plunged by 30% in just a single day. It then rebounded within the same day, closing with a 12% decrease in value.
If you live near Bitcoin ATMs, lucky you, as you can take advantage of those fluctuations. For example, if the value of one of your cryptocurrencies drops, you might want to buy more. Remember: A rule of investment is to buy when the prices are low.
Conversely, you might want to sell some of your digital currencies if their values rise. That way, you can get more cash for selling a smaller fraction of your cryptocurrencies.
6. Compare ATM Fees
As mentioned above, Bitcoin ATMs charge operator and miner fees each time you use them. However, some ATM operators shoulder the miner fees, while others have hidden fees.
So before transacting with a Bitcoin ATM, review its displayed fee breakdowns first. If another teller machine is near you, check its pricing list, too. Then, compare the two to see which offers you more crypto for the same amount.
7. Look for Bitcoin ATMs With Offers
Bitcoin ATM operators often allow their hosts to give discounts to their users. Hosts usually own the spaces or places where you can find crypto teller machines. They’re typically businesses such as retail stores, shops, taverns, restaurants, or malls.
The hosts, in turn, usually provide discounts on Bitcoin ATM transaction fees. It can range from as low as 3% to a whopping 50% for first-time users.
So before transacting with any Bitcoin ATM, check for available offers first. That lets you save on cryptocurrency transactions and buy more crypto instead.
8. Use Small Business-Hosted Bitcoin ATMs
The United States is home to 33.2 million small businesses, accounting for 99.9% of all U.S. firms. Between March 2020 and March 2021 alone, 1.1 million new small businesses opened. But, unfortunately, 965,995 also closed.
Lack of sales is one of the most common reasons small U.S. firms fail and go bankrupt. Another is that they struggle to compete with big-name brands.
So, why not use small business-hosted Bitcoin ATMs to help out these firms? You’re doing them a favor because a portion of the ATM operator fees you pay go toward paying their rent. That rental payment, in turn, goes to the host, which in this case, is the small business.
Then, after completing your Bitcoin ATM transaction, check out the store’s offers, too. For example, if the host is a restaurant, why not have something to eat there? Or if it’s a convenience store, consider buying something, even if it’s just a small item.
9. Save on Costs by Using Cash
Although most Bitcoin ATMs only accept cash, some allow you to buy or send crypto using a credit card. However, doing so further defeats the purpose of remaining “pseudonymous.” It also comes at an extremely high price in the form of exorbitant cash advance fees.
Credit card issuers usually charge a 3% to 5% fee per cash advance transaction.
For example, suppose you buy Bitcoin worth $500 using your credit card. Let’s also say your credit card company charges 5% per cash advance. In this case, the total amount payable would be $525.
Cash advances also have no grace period, unlike regular credit card purchases. That means you’d have to pay interest from when you took out the money.
If you fail to pay your balance in full, your interest charges will grow monthly. All that makes your initial cash advance for a crypto purchase all the more expensive.
You can avoid all those extra expenses by using cash to buy or send crypto using a Bitcoin ATM. If you don’t have money, withdraw some from one of your bank’s ATMs. Avoid using out-of-network bank teller machines, as they also charge fees.
Use Bitcoin ATMs Wisely
Now you know that finding Bitcoin ATM locations is a breeze if you use web-based locators. You also learned about critical ATM jargon, how to choose and use these kiosks, and what you can do to save on fees.
So, why not use your newly gained knowledge to buy, sell, and trade crypto today?
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