5 Top ATM services and how to use them

Click to find out how to carry out common and popular ATM services like cash withdrawal, transfer money between accounts, pay bills, and more
Example ATM-Transaction types

The ATM technology has come a long way since its initial humble beginnings when it was mostly used as cash points, that is, to withdraw money. These days, banks have realised that the technology can be put to other uses, which are not only cost-effective but also able to generate revenue for the bank. Moreover, as financial institutions are always looking out for ways to increase their profit while offering better customer experience, banks are wont to offer more services to customers using ATM technology. This post describes five popular ATM services that banks offer and how to use.

ICYMI: Benefits of ATM: Why banks and people still use ATM

Common uses of the automated teller machine

Some of the most common services offered by banks through ATMs are:

  • Cash withdraw
  • Cash deposit
  • Mini statement/Check account statement
  • Transfer money to other accounts
  • Pay utility bills
  • Buy airtime
  • Update personal information such as your Bank Verification Number (BVN), phone number, etc.
  • Pay for phone subscriptions and bill
  • Pay for hotel reservations
  • Pay for airline tickets
  • Change your ATM PIN
Some-things-you-can-do-with-an-ATM by Zenith Bank
Examples of things you can do with the ATM

To carry out any of the above transactions, you need to have your ATM card and PIN. The processes are broadly similar and once you can perform one transaction, chances are that can perform the rest. This is how you do it.

How to use the ATM

  1. Place your ATM card in the card slot provided
  2. Enter your PIN when prompted
  3. Choose the type of service you want to carry out
  4. Follow the on-screen instruction and provide any information when prompted.
  5. Once your transaction is completed, press the End key and the machine will bring out your card.
  6. In some cases, the machine may ask if you want to perform another transaction, press the “Yes” key if you do or “No” if you don’t.
  7. If you press “Yes” in the above step, the machine may ask you to re-enter your PIN, otherwise, it will open a new window for you to select the transaction type that you are in interested in, and the process is repeated,
  8. If you press “No” in Step 6, the ATM will bring out your card
How to use an ATM – A step-by-step guide

I shall now explain how to use the technology to complete five of the ATM transactions listed above. As noted, if you can do any of these transactions, you can do the rest.

1. Cash withdrawal from an ATM

Cash withdrawal is the most common type of transaction carried out at an ATM. And the most common way to withdraw cash from an ATM machine is by the use of a bank card and your secret four-digit PIN code. A bank card can be a debit card or a credit card. The way you use them to withdraw money is the same and is described below.

Choose the amount of money you want to withdraw from the ATM display

1.1 How to withdraw money from an ATM with a card

  1. Place your card in the card slot provided. The machine will read your card information and you will see a welcome message, sometimes with your name, on the screen.
  2. Type in your PIN using the keypads. If you made a mistake, simply press the Correction button, which is yellow in colour.
  3. Press Enter or the green button after you have keyed in your PIN.
  4. Next, the machine will bring up a window that shows the list of available services. Select the button beside the withdrawal option
  5. In the next window, select your account type: Current, Savings or Credit
  6. The machine might ask if you want a receipt for the transaction; select “Yes” if you do, or “No” if you don’t
  7. Next, select the withdrawal amount. If the amount is not listed, select “Other”, and key in the amount you want to withdraw in the window that opens.
  8. That’s it. The machine will process the transaction and dispense the exact cash.
  9. If you change your mind at any point before entering the amount, simply press the Cancel button, which is the red button with an X boldly written on it, and the machine will abort the operation.
  10. Once the machine has brought out your money, you will be asked if you want to perform another transaction. Select “Yes”, if you do or “No” if you don’t. If you selected “Yes”, the machine may ask you to re-input your PIN and to select the service you want performed.

1.2 How to withdraw money from an ATM without a card

In this case, you do not need a card to withdraw money from an ATM machine. The transaction is initiated using your banks’ mobile app, internet banking or mobile shortcode. The bank automatically generates a reference code for you, which you can use to withdraw money from the ATM.

  1. Log in to your bank’s app or internet banking
  2. From the service menu, choose the cardless withdrawal option
  3. Complete the information required such as your mobile number, amount to withdraw, the account to be edited, etc.
  4. Answer any security question asked
  5. Confirm details of the transaction and click the “OK” or “Done” button.
  6. The bank generates a reference code, which is sent to your mobile number and/or email. You will need this reference number for cardless withdraw at the ATM
  7. At the ATM machine, select the Menu option
  8. Choose Cardless transaction, which can be found under Paycode, Quickteller or as a standalone option depending on the bank
  9. Key in the reference code sent to your mobile phone or email
  10. Enter any other information required such as the amount to withdraw, account number, etc.
  11. Confirm the transaction and collect your cash

Note: You can also initiate cashless withdrawal with a mobile phone. Most banks require the transaction to be completed using the mobile number associated with the account. You simply dial the shortcode for cardless withdrawal and follow the onscreen instruction to provide the required information. The bank generates a reference code, which you can use to withdraw money from the ATM.

2. Check your account balance/print mini statement using an ATM in Nigeria

This is common as a prelude to carrying out other transactions. For example, you might want to know how much cash is available to you for withdrawal. Or maybe you want to make a transfer and need to confirm the amount of money you have in the account. On the other hand, it may be that you were expecting money and want to check if your account has been credited. Or maybe you just want to know how much you have in your account for your sanity check. Whatever the reason, an ATM is a convenient banking technology that can allow you to do that. Here is how it is done:

2.1 How to check your account balance at an ATM and /or print mini statement

  1. Follow steps 1-3 as explained in the ‘How to withdraw money from an ATM’ section
  2. Select ‘Check balance’
  3. Select your account type
  4. Select if you want a receipt for the service
  5. Read off your account balance on the screen
  6. If you had pressed “Yes “for a receipt, the ATM will print out the balance for you.
  7. Next, choose whether you want to carry out another transaction or not

3. Transfer money within and between bank accounts

In Nigeria, it is also very common to use the ATM to transfer or send money to another account. Personally, this is my favourite use of the ATM because it’s pretty convenient and saves time. The only downside to it, in my opinion, is the limitation imposed by the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN, on the daily maximum transfer, which at the time of writing is set one hundred and fifty thousand (NGN150,000.00) naira, only. In a case where you need to make a higher transfer than this amount, you will need to visit a bank or use the online banking service of your banking institution.

Choose the receiving bank from the options displayed

3.1. How to transfer money to another bank account using an ATM

  1. Follow steps 1-3 as explained in the ‘How to withdraw money from an ATM’ section
  2. Select Quickteller in the Select Transaction window. This will open the Quickteller window showing available financial services
  3. The “Select The Destination for the Fund You Wish to Send” window opens. The five available options on a Zenith Bank ATM are My bank, Other Bank, Mobile Wallet, Send to Phone, Verve Prepaid Card. The options may be slightly different from your bank’s ATM
  4. Once you’ve selected the option, say Other Bank, you will be asked to select your account type: Savings, Current or Credit
  5. Next Select the Destination account type: Savings, Current or Credit
  6. Select the Destination Bank, that is the name of the receipt’s bank, for example, Zenith Bank
  7. Enter the Destination account number that is the account number of the person or entity to which you are making the transfer
  8. The next window will ask you to enter the amount you want to transfer. Do that
  9. You may see a window that reads, “Transaction in progress” as the ATM processes your request
  10. After the processing of your request, a new window will open, which requires you to confirm the details of the transaction, namely the name of the receipt, their account number, the amount of money you’re transferring and the name of the receiving bank. If the details are correct, press enter, otherwise cancel and restart the process
  11. If you confirmed that the details were correct, the ATM will complete the processing and you will see a notice that says: “Transaction completed. Do you want to carry out another transaction?” Press “Yes” if you do or “No” otherwise

4. Buy airtime for mobile phone from an ATM

Another common service that can be completed at an ATM is to top up a mobile phone. This is especially convenient if you had gone to use the ATM for another service such as cash withdrawal. You may just decide to top up your phone while you were there. Another benefit of using the ATM to top up your phone is the fact that you can top up any phone number, whether it is a Globacom number, an MTN, an Airtel or a 9 Mobile number. It doesn’t matter if the mobile number is yours or that of a friend or a dependent. You can top up for them without having to physically see them.

List of available mobile networks

There is also the added advantage that all the mobile networks offer some bonus airtime for topping up using an ATM. I don’t know the rationale behind this practice. Maybe the mobile companies are saving money somewhere when customers recharge their phone from an ATM or maybe it is the banks that give bonuses, which is unlikely. Banks obviously earn some commission from mobile companies for selling via the ATM but I don’t know if the percentage is high enough for them to give customers bonuses for topping up their mobile phones via the ATM. Whatever may be the case, the bottom line is that customers benefit as well. Win, win, win, for all parties making this a popular ATM service for bank customers.

How to recharge (i.e. top-up) your phone from an ATM

  1. Follow steps 1-3 as explained in the ‘How to withdraw money from an ATM’ section
  2. Select Quickteller in the Select Transaction window
  3. Select Airtime recharge
  4. Select your bank account type (Current, Savings or Credit)
  5. Select the phone network you want to purchase( Airtel, MTN, Glo, Visafone, 9Moble or Others)
  6. Select the airtime amount you want to purchase. If the amount is not listed, select Other and input the amount in the new window that opens
  7. Next, “Enter the phone number you wish to recharge”
  8. You will be asked to confirm the “Details of your transaction”, i.e. phone number and the amount. If these are correct select “Proceed” otherwise, select Clear and re-input the correct figures.
  9. If you had selected “Proceed” in the last step, a new window will show “Transaction completed. A notification will be sent to you shortly”.

5. Pay bills using an ATM

Did you know that you can pay several types of bills such as electricity bills, mobile postpaid, etc. as well as purchase various types of tickets using an ATM? Yes, those are some of the services that banks offer via an ATM.

Select the service you want from the available options

In the case of an electricity bill. You can either pay your old bills if you are using a postpaid meter or you can buy electricity credits if you are using a prepaid metre. This functionality makes it very convenient to take care of your bills at any time of the day. It eliminates the need to visit your electricity company’s office or the bank, which frankly are open only during their operational hours, which would probably be the time you need to be at your place of work and hence could prove to be an inconvenience. But with the service available at any banks’ ATM, you can pay your electricity bill or buy credit at your convenience. You don’t even need internet data to be able to do that. Another win.

5.1 How to pay electricity bills at the ATM

  1. Follow steps 1-3 as explained in the ‘How to withdraw money from an ATM’ section
  2. Select Quickteller in the Select Transaction window
  3. Select Pay Bill
  4. Select Electricity in the new window
  5. Select the Electricity Package you wish to pay for, i.e. Postpaid or Prepaid
  6. Select your Distribution Company, e.g. Enugu, Benin, Eko, etc.
  7. Next, enter your Meter Number
  8. Press Enter and your transaction will be processed.

The Case for voice-activated ATMs

There are popular transactions that you can carry out at the ATM, such as paying for your cable tv subscriptions, changing your PIN, depositing cash, paying a merchant, purchasing airline tickets, even paying for your Lagos Concession Company (LCC) tolls, and more. All these transactions follow the same pattern. You start by entering your PIN code or PIN number, as some people call it. Next, you select the service that you want, provide any required information and confirm service.

The good thing is that using the machine is quite intuitive; all you need to do is to follow the instructions displayed and provide the required information when asked. However, this also presents a challenge for people who are not very literate. If one were unable to read, then using the ATM machine to carry out transactions will be quite challenging. In that case, the person may need someone to actually guide them. An ATM with voice activation is a preferred option in such a case. I know they exist, so banks can consider investing in voice-activated ATMs for a more inclusive service, otherwise, they continue to alienate a section of their customers who are less literate.


In this post, I described five popular services that you can benefit from via an ATM. These are cash withdrawal, check account balance, transfer to another account, airtime recharge and pay a bill using electricity bill as an example.

I also mentioned that there are other services besides the five I discussed that can be completed using the technology. They basically follow the same pattern. That is, input your pin and select the service that you are interested in, and the machine will guide you to complete it.

The final point that I raised was the need for banks to invest in voice-activated ATMs to better serve their less literate customers.

From the many available ATM services, it is easy to see why ATMs are popular. They make our financial lives easier so that we can focus energy on other areas. Definitely, some of the reasons the technology is so well popular among users and banks continue to innovate to chain us to ATM services. But the good thing is that we are loving it.


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