How To Use A Bitcoin ATM: A Useful Guide

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Last updated May 29, 2024 | 03:45 PM UTC

When we talk about ATMs, Bitcoin or crypto isn't the first thing that crosses anyone's mind. ATMs have always been synonyms with cash. You insert your card and withdraw your desired amount in a local currency. However, this concept evolved in 2013, when a Canadian coffee shop introduced the first ever Bitcoin ATM. 

But what's the purpose of a Bitcoin ATM? Unlike fiat currencies, you can't withdraw any physical form of Bitcoin. So what's the point? Why is it important? And how can you use a Bitcoin ATM? Let's find out. 

Introduction to Bitcoin ATMs

Bitcoin, the pioneering cryptocurrency, has transformed how people think about money and transactions. Its decentralized nature allows for secure, peer-to-peer transactions without the need for traditional banks. But by nature, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile. So, having a machine to buy and sell your digital assets for cash on the go can be really convenient. 

In short, Bitcoin ATMs are a convenient way for individuals to buy and sell Bitcoin using cash in their local currencies. These machines function similarly to traditional ATMs but facilitate cryptocurrency transactions instead.

Despite a decade of growth, the number of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide decreased by 11.1% in 2023. As of 1 January 2024, there were 33,628 Bitcoin ATMs globally, according to the data from Coin ATM Radar. This is down from 37,827 at the beginning of the previous year. 

This decline reflects shifting market dynamics, with the United States experiencing a 15.4% reduction in ATMs, although it still hosts 82% of the world’s Bitcoin ATMs​. 

Despite the recently declining numbers, Bitcoin ATMs offer several benefits, especially in regions where crypto wallets and exchanges often face heightened regulatory scrutiny. They provide easy access to Bitcoin for those who may not have bank accounts or prefer not to use online exchanges. 

They are also convenient for travellers and those seeking quick transactions without lengthy verification processes typical of online platforms.

Finding a Bitcoin ATM

Locating a Bitcoin ATM near you is crucial for seamless transactions. Several tools can help you find one easily. Coin ATM Radar is a popular resource that provides a comprehensive map of Bitcoin ATMs worldwide. By entering your location, you can find the nearest machines along with details such as supported cryptocurrencies and transaction fees.

When choosing a Bitcoin ATM, consider the following:

  • Reputation: Look for ATMs from reputable manufacturers like General Bytes and Genesis Coin, which dominate the market and are known for reliability.
  • User reviews: Check online reviews to gauge the experiences of other users.
  • Security features: Opt for ATMs with robust security measures such as encryption and secure identification processes.

Using these tips, you can ensure a secure and efficient transaction experience.

How to use a Bitcoin ATM

Setting up your wallet

A Bitcoin wallet is essential for storing, sending, and receiving Bitcoin. There are various types of wallets available, each with its own features and security measures. Here’s how to set up a mobile wallet:

  • Download a wallet app: Choose a reputable wallet app like Coinbase, Mycelium, or Trust Wallet from your device’s app store.
  • Create a new wallet account: Follow the app’s instructions to set up a new account. This typically involves creating a secure password and writing down a recovery phrase.
  • Back up your wallet: Securely store your recovery phrase, which is crucial for recovering your wallet if you lose access to your device. Never share this phrase with anyone.
  • Secure your private keys: Ensure your private keys are stored securely. These keys grant access to your Bitcoin, so keeping them safe is paramount.

Once your wallet is set up, you’re ready to use a Bitcoin ATM for transactions. Make sure your wallet app is easily accessible and has sufficient security measures in place.Bitcoin ATM Brooklyn New York

Verifying your identity

Verifying your identity is a crucial step when using a Bitcoin ATM. This process ensures the security of your transactions and compliance with local regulations. Here’s a detailed look at how to complete this step:

  1. Government-issued ID: Most Bitcoin ATMs require you to scan a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. Insert your ID into the designated scanner on the ATM. The machine will capture the necessary details and verify your identity against its database.
  2. Selfie for facial recognition: Some ATMs require a selfie for facial recognition. This step involves using the ATM’s camera to take a photo of your face. The system then matches this photo with the one on your ID to confirm your identity. Stand still and follow the on-screen instructions to complete this process.
  3. Phone number verification: Many Bitcoin ATMs ask for a phone number for SMS verification. Enter your phone number when prompted, and you’ll receive a text message with a verification code. Enter this code into the ATM to complete the verification process.
  4. Tips for security:
  • Ensure your ID is valid and not expired. An expired ID will not be accepted by the ATM.
  • Use a secure and private phone number. Avoid using public or easily accessible numbers.
  • Follow on-screen instructions carefully. Each ATM might have slightly different steps, so it’s essential to pay attention to the prompts.

By completing these steps, you ensure a secure and compliant transaction experience at Bitcoin ATMs.

Depositing cash into the ATM

Depositing cash into a Bitcoin ATM is straightforward but requires careful attention to detail. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Initiate the transaction: Start by selecting the option to deposit cash. This is usually labeled as 'Buy Bitcoin' or a similar term.
  2. Enter amount: Specify the amount of Bitcoin you want to purchase or the amount of cash you wish to deposit. The ATM will display the equivalent amount in Bitcoin based on the current exchange rate.
  3. Insert cash: Insert the cash into the machine’s cash deposit slot. Bitcoin ATMs typically accept a range of denominations. Feed the bills into the slot one at a time, ensuring they are flat and smooth to avoid jams.
  4. Confirmation of amount: Once you’ve inserted the cash, the ATM will display the total amount deposited and the equivalent Bitcoin amount. Double-check this information to ensure accuracy.
  5. Receipt and transaction record: After confirming the transaction, the ATM will provide a receipt. This receipt includes details such as the amount of Bitcoin purchased, the transaction fee, and a transaction ID. Keep this receipt for your records.
  6. Common issues and troubleshooting:
  • If the ATM rejects your cash, ensure the bills are not crumpled or torn. Try smoothing them out or using different bills.
  • In case of errors, follow the on-screen instructions or contact the ATM’s customer support.

By following these steps, you can efficiently deposit cash into a Bitcoin ATM and proceed with your transaction.

Buying Bitcoin at the ATM

Buying Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM is a convenient way to convert cash into cryptocurrency. Here’s how to complete this process:

  1. Select 'Buy Bitcoin' Option: Start by selecting the 'Buy Bitcoin' option on the ATM’s main screen.
  2. Enter purchase amount: Enter the amount of Bitcoin you wish to buy or the amount of cash you want to spend. The ATM will automatically calculate the equivalent Bitcoin amount based on the current exchange rate.
  3. Scan wallet QR Code: To receive the Bitcoin, you need to scan your wallet’s QR code. Open your mobile wallet app and display the QR code. Hold it up to the ATM’s scanner until it successfully reads the code. This step ensures the Bitcoin is sent to the correct wallet address.
  4. Insert cash: Deposit the cash into the ATM as described in the previous section. Ensure you insert the correct amount corresponding to the Bitcoin you intend to buy.
  5. Confirm transaction: Review the transaction details on the screen, including the Bitcoin amount, transaction fee, and your wallet address. Confirm the details to proceed with the transaction.
  6. Transaction processing: The ATM will process the transaction, which might take a few moments. Once complete, you’ll receive a confirmation on the screen and a printed receipt.
  7. Verification on blockchain: Open your wallet app to verify the Bitcoin has been received. The transaction should appear in your wallet, though it might take a few minutes to be fully confirmed on the blockchain.
  8. Tips for a smooth transaction:
  • Double-check wallet address – Ensure the scanned QR code corresponds to your correct wallet address to avoid sending Bitcoin to the wrong recipient.
  • Transaction fees – Be aware of transaction fees displayed by the ATM. These can vary significantly, so it’s essential to understand the total cost of your transaction.
  • Transaction limits – Some Bitcoin ATMs have minimum and maximum transaction limits. Ensure your desired transaction amount falls within these limits.

By carefully following these steps, you can buy Bitcoin at an ATM securely and efficiently. This method provides a quick and straightforward way to enter the world of cryptocurrency, especially for those who prefer using cash for transactions.

Sending Bitcoin to your wallet

After purchasing Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM, it's crucial to ensure the cryptocurrency reaches your wallet securely. Here’s a detailed guide on how to send Bitcoin to your wallet:

  • Prepare your wallet: Open your mobile wallet app and navigate to the 'Receive' section. This will display your wallet’s unique Bitcoin address as a QR code and a string of alphanumeric characters. Both forms can be used to receive Bitcoin.
  • Scan QR code: At the Bitcoin ATM, select the option to send Bitcoin to your wallet. Use the ATM’s scanner to read the QR code displayed on your mobile wallet app. Ensure the entire code is visible and aligned with the scanner for accurate reading.
  • Manual entry: If the ATM fails to scan the QR code, you can manually enter the wallet address. Double-check the alphanumeric characters to avoid errors, as even a single incorrect character can result in losing your Bitcoin.
  • Confirm transaction details: After scanning or entering your wallet address, the ATM will display the transaction details, including the Bitcoin amount, transaction fee, and your wallet address. Verify all details carefully.
  • Initiate transaction: Confirm the transaction to proceed. The Bitcoin will be sent from the ATM to your wallet address. The ATM will process the transaction and provide a receipt with a transaction ID.
  • Verify transaction on blockchain: Open your wallet app and check the transaction history. The newly received Bitcoin should appear, though it might take a few minutes for the transaction to be fully confirmed on the blockchain. Use the transaction ID to track the transaction’s status on a blockchain explorer like or BlockCypher.
  • Secure your wallet: Ensure your wallet is secure by enabling additional security features like two-factor authentication (2FA) and biometric verification if available.

By following these steps, you can ensure your Bitcoin is safely sent to your wallet, ready for future use or investment.

Selling Bitcoin at the ATM

Bitcoin ATMs also facilitate selling Bitcoin, converting it into cash. Here’s how to sell Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM:

  • Select 'Sell Bitcoin' option: Start by selecting the 'Sell Bitcoin' option on the ATM’s main screen. The ATM will prompt you to enter the amount of Bitcoin you wish to sell.
  • Enter amount to sell: Specify the amount of Bitcoin you want to sell. The ATM will display the equivalent cash amount based on the current exchange rate. Verify the exchange rate and fees associated with the transaction.
  • Send Bitcoin to ATM address: The ATM will generate a unique Bitcoin address (displayed as a QR code and alphanumeric string) where you need to send the Bitcoin. Open your mobile wallet app, navigate to the 'Send' section, and scan the QR code provided by the ATM or manually enter the Bitcoin address.
  • Confirm transaction details: Before sending the Bitcoin, double-check the transaction details, including the Bitcoin amount and the ATM’s wallet address. Confirm the transaction to initiate the transfer.
  • Transaction processing: The ATM will process the transaction and verify the Bitcoin transfer. This step might take a few minutes as the Bitcoin network confirms the transaction. You can track the transaction status using the provided transaction ID.
  • Receive withdrawal code: After the Bitcoin transfer is confirmed, the ATM will generate a withdrawal code. This code is necessary to withdraw cash from the ATM.
  • Keep transaction receipt: The ATM will print a receipt with the transaction details and the withdrawal code. Keep this receipt secure until you complete the cash withdrawal.

By following these steps, you can efficiently sell Bitcoin at an ATM, converting your digital assets into cash.

Withdrawing cash from the ATM

Once your Bitcoin sale is confirmed, you can withdraw cash from the Bitcoin ATM. Here’s how to complete this process:

  1. Enter withdrawal code: Return to the ATM with your receipt. Select the 'Withdraw Cash' option and enter the withdrawal code provided after your Bitcoin sale. This code is essential for authorizing the cash withdrawal.
  2. Verify transaction: The ATM will verify the withdrawal code against the transaction records. If the code is correct and the transaction is confirmed, the ATM will proceed with the cash dispensing process.
  3. Collect cash: The ATM will dispense the cash amount equivalent to the Bitcoin sold. Collect the cash promptly and ensure you have received the correct amount.
  4. Check for transaction fees: Some ATMs might charge additional fees for cash withdrawals. Check the receipt or on-screen details to understand the total cost of the transaction.
  5. Secure your cash: After collecting your cash, ensure it is stored securely. Avoid counting large sums of money in public places to reduce the risk of theft.
  6. Troubleshooting common issues:
  • If the ATM reports an incorrect withdrawal code, re-enter the code carefully. Ensure there are no typos or errors.
  • If the ATM cannot verify the transaction, wait a few minutes and try again. Blockchain confirmations can sometimes take longer than expected.
  • In case of mechanical errors or cash dispensing issues, contact the ATM operator’s customer support for assistance.

By carefully following these steps, you can smoothly withdraw cash from a Bitcoin ATM after selling your Bitcoin. This method provides a quick and convenient way to convert cryptocurrency into fiat currency, making it accessible for everyday use.

Final thoughts

Overall, using a Bitcoin ATM provides a convenient and secure way to buy and sell Bitcoin, making cryptocurrency accessible to a broader audience. Despite the recent decline in the number of Bitcoin ATMs, these machines remain a vital part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, especially in regions with significant crypto adoption like the United States.

Bitcoin ATMs offer several advantages, such as ease of use, quick transactions, and the ability to operate without a traditional bank account. By following the detailed steps outlined in this guide, you can efficiently locate a Bitcoin ATM, set up your wallet, verify your identity, deposit cash, buy Bitcoin, send it to your wallet, sell Bitcoin, and withdraw cash. Each step is designed to ensure a smooth and secure transaction experience, whether you are a beginner or an experienced user.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sell Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM?

Yes, you can sell Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM. These machines facilitate both buying and selling of Bitcoin. To sell Bitcoin, you need to select the 'Sell Bitcoin' option on the ATM. You will be required to send the Bitcoin to a wallet address provided by the ATM. Once the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain, the ATM will dispense cash equivalent to the Bitcoin sold. Remember to keep the transaction receipt, as it often contains a withdrawal code necessary for completing the cash withdrawal.

How do I find the nearest Bitcoin ATM?

Finding the nearest Bitcoin ATM is straightforward with the help of online tools. Coin ATM Radar is one of the most popular resources for locating Bitcoin ATMs globally. You can enter your location on their website or app to find nearby ATMs along with details like the supported cryptocurrencies and transaction fees. Other tools like Google Maps can also help you locate Bitcoin ATMs by simply searching for 'Bitcoin ATM near me'. Always check for user reviews and security features before choosing an ATM.


Are there fees associated with using a Bitcoin ATM?

Yes, there are fees associated with using a Bitcoin ATM. These fees can vary depending on the ATM operator, the transaction type (buying or selling Bitcoin), and the amount of the transaction. Typically, Bitcoin ATMs charge a percentage of the transaction amount as a fee, which can range from 5% to 15% or more. Some ATMs may also have a flat fee in addition to the percentage-based fee. It's essential to check the fee structure displayed on the ATM before proceeding with a transaction to avoid any surprises.


Written by

Mohammad is an experienced crypto writer with a specialisation in cybersecurity. He covers a wide variety of topics spanning everything from blockchain and Web3 to the retail crypto space. He has also worked for several start-ups and ICOs, gaining insight into the mindset and motivation of the founders behind the projects.