Cryptocurrency ATM: Everything to know

  • January 13, 2023
  • 2 Min Read

Why use a Crypto ATM?

A crypto ATM is a kiosk-style machine that allows you to buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum instantly and deposit them directly to your crypto wallet on the go. The ATMs use a QR code scanner to connect to your crypto wallet. You can use cash or a card to deposit money into the machine which is used to purchase cryptocurrency. The purchased crypto is then deposited into your crypto wallet.

Crypto ATMs have been around since 2013 and initially just provided Bitcoin services. The types of cryptocurrencies supported by these ATMs have since expanded and crypto ATMs are now available in every state in the US and all over the world. Crypto ATMs are generally considered the best way to buy crypto using cash.

Pros

  • Buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on the fly using just your phone and the ATM
  • There are close to 40,000 crypto ATMs all over the world
  • Buy crypto using cash or a card

Cons

  • Fees are not usually published anywhere so you don’t know how much you’ll pay in fees until you’re using the ATM
  • 95% of all ATMs are in North America. If you live in another part of the world, you may not have as much access to crypto ATMs
  • Using the ATM can be a complex process, especially for those new to crypto

How Do Crypto ATMs Work?

Crypto ATMs connect to a cryptocurrency exchange and use your deposited fiat funds to purchase crypto through the exchange. The funds are then deposited into your crypto wallet. You can connect your crypto wallet by either scanning a QR code using the wallet app on your phone or by entering your crypto address through the crypto ATM’s touchscreen interface.

Most crypto ATMs allow you to purchase Bitcoin while some ATMs support other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Dogecoin.

Others have features such as allowing you to print a “voucher” to claim your crypto funds. This voucher works by displaying a QR code that you scan and then use an exchange on your phone to complete your crypto purchase (rather than going through the exchange the ATM is connected to). Some ATMs even allow selling cryptocurrencies using the ATM, in addition to just purchasing.

  • How Do You Buy Cryptocurrency Using an ATM?

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    Step 1: Use Coin ATM Radar or Google Maps to find an ATM near you.

    Step 2: Once you’re at the ATM, use the touchscreen interface to select the cryptocurrency you would like to purchase and indicate how much you would like to buy.

    Step 3: Most ATMs will require you to perform some verification option — such as providing a phone number, email, or both.

    Step 4: Once you authenticate your credentials, you will be asked to create an account. Follow the on-screen instructions to enter your phone number and email address to create an account. You will then be able to use this account any time you visit another ATM from the same company.

    Step 5: To enter your wallet address into the crypto ATM, you have two options: Use the on-screen keyboard provided by the ATM to type in your address character by character, or use the QR code option. For the latter, you'll need to access your wallet app (such as Metamask) on your mobile device, and navigate to the "QR code" option. Once you have your wallet's QR code displayed on your phone, hold your phone up to the ATM's scanner to scan the code. This will connect your wallet to the ATM and allow you to complete your transaction.

    Step 6: Finally, you will deposit cash or swipe your credit/debit card to deposit the fiat funds that you will be converting. Once this amount is deposited, confirm the transaction on-screen and the ATM will convert the funds to your selected cryptocurrency and deposit them into your wallet.

What Cryptocurrencies Can You Buy from an ATM?

Almost all ATMs support Bitcoin. Some other cryptocurrencies that may be supported include:

  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Ethereum
  • Litecoin
  • Dogecoin
  • Zcash
  • Tether
  • Ripple

What are Crypto ATM Fees?

Crypto ATM companies are generally quite secretive when it comes to their ATM fees. In fact, these fees fluctuate constantly and the only sure way to know how much the fees are at any given time is to go to an ATM in person and attempt a transaction.

However, crypto ATMs are generally known for charging high fees for transactions. The fees for using a crypto kiosk to make a transaction are typically much higher than those charged by traditional exchanges such as Binance and ByBit. It is not uncommon for the fees charged by a crypto ATM to be double, triple, or even higher than those charged by traditional exchanges.

According to reporting from crypto outlet Coin ATM Radar, most crypto ATMs charge fees of around 15% of the total transaction when buying crypto. Up-to-date fee information can be found here.

Where Can You Find Crypto ATMs?

The best way to find your local Crypto ATMs is through the Coin ATM Radar website. Their “search by address” feature allows you to enter your address and find the nearest crypto ATMs from a wide range of companies.

Crypto ATM Map

Services like Google Maps also provide crypto ATM locations. Keep in mind, however, that these locations may not be as current as those shown by dedicated crypto ATM providers, such as Coin ATM Radar.

Google Maps Crypto ATM
  • Who are the Main Crypto ATM Companies?

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    1. Bitcoin Depot: As the largest ATM network in North America, Bitcoin Depot has close to 7,000 locations across the US and Canada.
    2. CoinCloud: The second largest ATM provider, CoinCloud has 5,500 locations across the United States and Brazil.
    3. CoinFlip: CoinFlip is an ATM network that services the US and is known for its low fees compared to competitors.
    4. Bitcoin of America: The fourth largest ATM provider in the US is Bitcoin of America. Despite their name, they also offer other coins such as Ethereum and Dogecoin.
    5. Bitstop: At just over 2,000 US locations, Bitstop is the fifth largest ATM network. The Bitstop kiosks only provide Bitcoin services.

Crypto ATM Risks

  • Complex Interface: Compared to a traditional ATM, crypto ATMs are quite a bit more complex to use. To use a crypto ATM, you must have a wallet installed on your mobile phone and be familiar with how to generate a QR code from it. You must then follow the steps accurately and ensure you don’t make any mistakes — one wrong character and you could end up sending the money to the wrong crypto address. There is no guarantee of fund recovery if you make a mistake along the way.
  • Uninsured Transactions: The crypto ATMs do not reveal the exchanges they are using to complete the crypto purchase and you will be responsible for keeping the funds safe in your wallet. You are liable for any security faults or mistakes made during the process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are crypto ATMs legit?

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    Yes.

    It’s important, however, to use an official crypto ATM location service such as Coin ATM Radar or Google Maps to locate the crypto ATM you would like to use. This helps ensure that the ATM is indeed legitimate.

  • What is the best crypto ATM?

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    Most crypto ATMs provide similar services — buying and selling cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin for a fee. There is no “best” crypto ATM and your provider will mostly depend on whichever crypto ATM is closest to you.

  • Are crypto ATMs profitable?

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    Running a crypto ATM can be a profitable business. Many of the companies mentioned above offer franchise options for those looking to open their own ATM.

  • How do crypto ATMs execute transactions?

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    Crypto ATMs connect to an exchange in order to purchase crypto. They then deposit this purchased crypto to your indicated wallet address. This process takes place on the blockchain, so it’s as safe and secure as buying crypto through every other method.

  • How long do crypto ATM transactions take?

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    Since crypto ATM purchases utilize the blockchain, it may take a little while for your transaction to complete. The exact amount of time depends on the blockchain you are using (Bitcoin vs. Ethereum, for example) and also on how congested the network is — the busier the blockchain, the longer confirmation can take.

    Many ATMs will offer paper receipts that confirm that your transaction has been processed. For peace of mind, you may want to hang around the ATM until you receive confirmation that your transaction has been processed.


Contributors

  • Avatar of George Hristov

    George is a tech writer interested in web3 startups and communities. In the dynamic world of crypto, he stays plugged in to the day-to-day headlines, deep dives, and industry commentary.

  • Avatar of Gary Anglebrandt

    Gary Anglebrandt is a US-based editor, copywriter, and communications consultant with a background in business and international news. Beyond the US, he has worked from Seoul and Beijing, and continues to work with professionals based around the globe.