Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are a quick and easy way to access the cash in your bank account. But there are limits on how much you can withdraw. Obviously, the most important limitation is the amount of money you have in your account. But there are additional limits set by your bank, the bank that owns the ATM and the construction of the machine itself.
You are unlikely to withdraw more than a machine has to give you, but it can happen--especially with a small machine that is nearing its regular service date. Most entry-level machines can hold between 700 and 100 bills while larger machines can hold up to twice that amount. The number of bills will vary based on the condition of the bills (brand new bills take up less room, but are more likely to cause a jam or to dispense incorrectly). The ATM owner must also choose what denomination of bills to stock. Having 700 £13 bills means more cash is available for customers than 700 £6 bills. The owner may not fully stock a machine based on past usage, and some machines are serviced once per week or less.
The bill presenter on an ATM machine, the little slot from which your money appears when you make a transaction, can only hold so many bills. This "stack limit" is usually 10 to 25 bills. This is another reason ATM owners prefer £13 to £6 bills: the machine can eject twice as much money per transaction. So, for a machine that dispenses only £13 bills, your transaction will be limited to £130 to £325 based solely on how many bills the machine can actually present at one time.
Per Transaction Restrictions Set by the ATM Owner
The ATM owner can set a restriction on the amount of money a customer can remove in a single transaction. Usually, this amount corresponds to the stack limit. Some machines, particularly merchant-owned machines (those owned by the store owner rather than a bank) carry lower limits so that more customers can be served. In most cases, the owner must set the withdrawal total at the machine itself, but more sophisticated machines can be changed remotely. So, if a machine shows that it is almost out of cash and it is not due to be restocked yet, an owner can lower the withdrawal limit to reduce the chances of the machine running out of cash completely.
Per Transaction Limits Set by Your Bank
Most banks limit the amount that you can withdraw from your account in a single transaction. This policy exists chiefly to protect the customer in case his card is used by an unauthorised person. It also limits the amount that a customer can be forced to withdraw in a criminal event. Per transaction limits are usually the same for every customer, except that you can't withdraw more than you have in your account, regardless of the maximum transaction amount allowed. This limit usually corresponds to the maximum amount of money the bank's own ATM machines can physically dispense at one time.
Total Restrictions Set by Your Bank
Your bank probably also limits the sum total you may remove during a given period of time (usually 24 to 48 hours). Again, the primary purpose of this restriction is to protect your money in the event that your ATM card is lost or stolen. A less important reason is to keep ATMs from running out of money. Some banks will allow a customer to increase the total withdrawals allowed per period or may even lift the restriction entirely at the customer's request. However, the bank may inform you that such action limits its liability in case of theft.