Based on our experience in the ATM business, we’ve developed a list of the 9 best locations for ATM machines. The list is ordered from locations that see the most transactions monthly to the locations that see less but that are still lucrative.
Let’s look at some numbers:
An ATM placed at a slow location could make a minimum of $180 a month. It would require that at least two people use it every day for a $3 surcharge. On average, you should expect your ATM to process 150-180 transactions a month. That’s 5 or 6 a day.
The point is, it’s very easy to run a successful ATM business. You just need to choose the right location. We can help.
The Importance of Choosing a Good Location
The bottom line is that your ATM machine only makes money if people use it. So think about where people need access to ATMs and what locations people frequent the most consistently.
Don’t give up right away if the locations you’re considering already have machines. A new machine is almost always preferred over an old one. Do some investigating and see if existing machines are in working order, outdated, and compliant.
If you find a poorly maintained ATM taking up prime real estate, see if you can swoop in with a better offer.
Choosing a “bad” location doesn’t necessarily mean your business won’t be profitable. It just means you might not be making as much as you could. It will take you longer to meet your ROI and you’ll make less revenue in the long run.
A poor location sees, in our experience, 2 or less transactions a day. That translates into a 25-30% annual return. That’s still a profit. If, after a while, you aren’t seeing the revenue you want, you can move the ATM to another location!
You’re looking, ideally, for an ATM location that sees 80-100 transactions a month. That equals about 40-70% ROI annually. If you find a location that earns more, great!
There’s no problem with trial and error when it comes to choosing a location. You can also consult with the ATM company or processing provider you work with. Someone who has been in the business a long time and personally operates ATMs on a daily business is the best advisor when it comes to discussing potential locations.
What Makes the Best Locations for ATM Machines?
Top performing ATM machines can be found where people spend large amounts of cash. Cash only establishments kind of encourage this behavior and therefore are perfect locations for ATM machines.
ATM machines are there for customer convenience. So you want to make sure your machine is clearly visible, easy to access, and safe to use. Locations with heavy foot traffic encourage more ATM transactions because of the number of people who see the ATM regularly.
The more people who pass by your machine, the more opportunities there are for transactions. And high traffic areas can make customers feel safer accessing their accounts because they are surrounded by witnesses.
Again, you want your machine to be where the people are. If you arrange to have your machine placed in a business that doesn’t get many consistent customers or has poor reviews, you’re missing out on revenue. Businesses that people enjoy patronizing and that get good reviews are where you want your machine. Because that’s where everyone is at!
Liquor stores and other locations where liquor is served are good locations for ATMs. Similar to convenience and grocery stores, liquor stores are one-stop-shops, if you will. Rather than have to make one more stop to get cash, it’s convenient to be able to do so from the place the customer is already shopping.
ATMs in liquor stores also typically have higher surcharges. So not only is the ATM market cornered in a liquor store increasing transactions, but you make more per transaction too.
Proximity to Other Machines
The closer your ATM is to other machines, the more competition you have. Will customers use your machine or the one down or across the street? You basically have to split customers.
There are only three instances where it would be advantageous for you to place your ATM in close proximity to another:
a. You offer a lower surcharge that gives users an incentive to choose your ATM over others
b. There’s just that much foot traffic that more than one ATM is necessary to avoid lines and overcrowding
c. The ATMs nearby are old, outdated, and/or frequently out of order
Again, when it comes to choosing a location for your ATM, consider the users’ needs. The biggest selling point of your ATM should be convenience.
Close to Your Home or Work
If you want to make the most profit from your ATM business, you need to minimize costs where possible. Traveling to and from your ATM is one place to start. If you place your ATM close to places you already go, you save time and money having to access it. Make sure your ATM is convenient for you, too. Otherwise, you don’t pocket as much revenue as you should.
You’ll need to regularly access your ATM to load cash, add receipt paper, clean the machine, and address any technical errors. Customers can’t use your machine and you can’t make money if your ATM isn’t in working order.
If you have a little experience running an ATM business already, it’s okay to venture out and maybe install an ATM farther away if you find a really good location. You might even hire someone to visit and load the machine for you if your ATM does really well and you can afford to do so.
9 Best Locations for ATM Machines
The numbers provided in this section are based on ATM Depot’s experience in the ATM business. There are many factors that contribute to a location’s success, most of which we covered above. However, there are seasonal and geographic factors as well.
Keep in mind that these numbers are averages. The best rule of thumb is to gauge a business’s popularity and success. If a business is busy, regularly draws in customers, and has a good chance of staying around for a while, your numbers are going to be higher than a location with minimal success.
In terms of revenue, the following locations have the highest profit potential. However, they are usually supplied with ATMs from the beginning, so it’s difficult to get started in these locations unless you know someone and have an in.
ATMs in large casinos see around 1,500-3,000 transactions monthly. And we’ve seen casino ATMs with upwards of 3,000 transactions monthly. Small casinos see around 30-800 transactions monthly.
Not only do these ATMs get a lot of traffic, surcharge fees are also typically quite high. High traffic plus high surcharge equals great profit.
While casino ATMs get the most transactions of any other location, they are difficult to obtain. You’ll often see bank-controlled ATMs in casinos, but that isn’t always the case. The best way to get access to this money-making location is to rely on preexisting relationships.
Is there a service you already offer a casino? Do you know someone in charge at a casino? Is there another service you could add to your ATM machine pitch that would incentivize a casino owner to partner with you?
Because casino ATMs are so necessary and lucrative, you’ll rarely find a location in want of one. You might, however, be able to negotiate a better deal than the current ATM owner. Keep in mind that all of this is easier to navigate if you already know someone in the casino business.
2. Gentlemen’s Clubs
We offer the same advice for seeking out a gentlemen’s club as a location for your ATM machine. Gentlemen’s club ATMs see around 300-800 transactions monthly but are so coveted that competition to get in is high. Unless you know the owner of a club, you’d have to be a pretty good salesperson to get the attention of someone who’s already set up with ATMs.
But again, it’s not impossible or unheard of. If you’ve been in the ATM game for a while, you might be ready to pursue these high-demand locations. If you’re new to the business, though, check out the rest of our list.
The following venues are more easily attainable. So, rather than expend all of your effort trying to get started in the hard-to-get locations, you could already be making money by aiming for an easier target.
Traffic to hotel ATMs depend on hotel occupancy, of course. The more people staying at a hotel, the more potential for ATM transactions. So while small hotel ATMs see around 100-150 transactions monthly, medium hotels 100-200, and large hotels over 200, these numbers might depend on the success of the hotel itself.
A medium, non-branded hotel with great reviews might bring in more guests and get more ATM traffic than a large, well-known hotel that people don’t enjoy staying at.
And it depends on the geographic location, too. What hotels do people have to choose from in your area? What’s the competition look like? Where do people like to stay when they come to your town? Are hotels downtown busier?
These are all things to keep in mind when gauging which locations have the potential for the most revenue.
4. Nightclubs and Bars
Nightclubs and bars are typically cash-heavy locations. They see around 250-500 transactions monthly. Patrons don’t want to risk losing their cards or having them stolen, so they might opt to use cash instead. Many clubs and bars require cash-only cover charges, too.
And then there’s tipping. It’s quicker and easier to slide your favorite bartender a few bills than having it charged to the card. Cash tips are more profitable for bartenders as well since card charge fees aren’t taken out of cash tips.
5. Convenience Stores and Gas Stations
Convenience stores and gas stations should provide customers with as many goods and services as possible. That’s what makes them convenient. Customers want to stop at these locations for as much of their needs as they can because it’s quick and easy.
C-stores and gas stations are easy to find and small enough that customers don’t have to spend a lot of time looking for what they need. ATMs at these locations are also preferred by customers because they offer a greater sense of security. There’s almost always an attendant monitoring the activity.
You can expect your ATM to get 200-400 transactions monthly in a convenience store or gas station.
Here again we have the tipping factor. Charge tips are automatically recorded and reported for taxes while cash tips can be estimated and sometimes unreported altogether making them more profitable. Therefore, servers and bartenders typically prefer cash tips.
There is also a charge to run a card. Sometimes, this charge is taken out of the servers’ tips. They leave at the end of their shifts with the tips they earned minus the fees for the number of customers who paid with a card.
Smaller restaurants might be cash-only for this reason or charge the fee to the customer’s transaction. In these cases, it ends up being cheaper for the customer to pay in cash.
ATMs in and around fast food restaurants see around 75-150 transactions a month. Quick service restaurant ATMs see around 100-150 transactions a month. And you can expect 150-200 transactions a month from an ATM in close proximity to cafes, diners, and luncheonettes.
So consider the type of restaurant you’re looking at and determine whether or not it gets enough patrons to earn you as many transactions and revenue as possible.
7. Barbershops and Hair/Nail Salons
Similar to bars and restaurants, barbershops and salons are tip-heavy locations and usually charge customers extra to pay with a card because of the charge fee.
These locations typically pass the fee on to the customer rather than taking it out of employee wages, so it ends up being cheaper for the customer to pay in cash. Without the fee, customers are more likely to tip more, so these locations strongly encourage cash payments.
Barbershop and salon ATMs see around 250-300 transactions a month.
This category kind of encompasses any new or trendy location. They bring in a lot of customers because of the novelty. People want to check out shiny, new locations especially if they’re bored with their previous options. These are also places people like to hang out.
If a location draws a lot of people, you want all those people to pass by and use your ATM.
9. Parking Lots
Parking lots and parking garages are common in densely populated areas. That means that many people will be around regularly to see and use your ATM. Downtown areas and locations with a variety of shops and activities bring tourists and locals alike to spend cash all year round.
What all of these locations have in common is that they are places where people prefer to pay with cash and they are places many people like to go on a regular basis. The combination of traffic and need make ATM businesses successful in these areas.
Of course, your experience will vary. You know your town better than anyone else, so use our list of What Makes the Best Locations for ATM Machines to guide your search.
Site Location Agreement (SLA) and Revenue Split
Each of the 9 locations on our list of best locations for ATM machines will likely be owned by someone other than you. This means that you’ll have to talk to business owners to create a partnership for running the ATM.
Convenience stores get about 23% more in sales from ATM users. But while an ATM machine in itself can bring more sales to the location therefore benefiting the store, location owners will be most likely to let you use their space for a share of the ATM revenue.
So when choosing the best location for your ATM, make sure the contract between you and the site location owner is a win-win. You want to make as much profit as possible, so you’ll have to weigh the number of transactions you expect against the percent of revenue split between both parties.
Other Locations to Consider
A Retail Store You Own
If you own a retail store and are considering adding an ATM machine, you can add to your monthly profits. As long as you advertise it and make it visible to passers-by, an ATM machine could bring in more customers or at least more foot traffic in and past your store.
Encouraging cash payments could lower your credit card fees, and you can offer coupons on ATM receipts to push sales. Additionally, about 30% of the cash withdrawn from an ATM in a store is spent in that store. At the very least it encourages impulse buys.
So adding an ATM service to your existing business could be very profitable for you.
The Office Where You Work
This only works if your office meets the following criteria:
a. There are 100s of employees
b. There is a cafeteria or someplace to spend cash
The more employees there are, the more opportunities there are for ATM transactions. Before placing an ATM in your office, make sure there’s a good balance between the amount of traffic and need for the service.
Large shopping centers are typically supplied with ATMs by banks, but smaller ones might not be. If you already know the owner of a commercial building, see who if anyone is providing them with ATM service. There might be an opportunity for you.
Here again you have to consider the amount of traffic in addition to the need for ATM service. If there is a condo complex with many units and nearby locations to spend money, you might consider placing an ATM in a condo complex. Keep in mind that you will need to speak with HOA to get approval.
The Best Locations for ATM Machines
When scouting locations, look for high-traffic areas, cash-only locations or locations with a high rate of cash paying customers, and locations where other ATMs are scarce. You also want to look for places customers will feel safe using the ATM such as locations with lots of foot traffic.
Be aware of new businesses that might not have ATMs yet and locations where ATMs are old, outdated, and frequently out of order. These all make for great opportunities to get your foot in the door and ask about starting a partnership to run your ATM.
You can check out liquor stores, bars, restaurants, convenience stores, shopping centers, and parking lots. For your first ATM, it’s a good idea to choose a location close to home or work until you get used to the process. You can even look into setting up your ATM in the office or building where you work if there is enough of a demand for it.
If you haven’t set up a location yet and are nervous about approaching businesses, check out our article How to Get Your First ATM Placement. It covers how to borrow authority to give yourself credibility and what to say so that you can get other business owners to trust you and convince them to join a partnership with you.
Remember, the location of your ATM could make or break your success.