Are ATM receipts useful?

I always say “no” when the ATM asks if I want a receipt when withdrawing or depositing - it just clutters up my wallet, and I track my balances online so I don’t need the record. But is this a mistake? Would having a receipt actually help me if the bank messes up a transaction? It seems like the same system that records the transaction is printing the receipt, so if one is wrong, they both are.

My accountant says they are useful for tax documentation purposes. I go to swap meets to purchase stuff for resale and frankly the ATM receipt is the closest thing to a paper record I can get. I’ve never been audited. But my account says they are useful. YMMV.

I would say that deposit receipts are more essential than withdrawel receipts.

The Withdrawel receipts are for your records, and only useful if you use them to balance your checkbook. In most systems you are correct in that the record is kept with the same data and when one is wrong, so is the other. Each transaction is recorded at many levels like the account balance change and the change to the till in the ATM are seperate transactions that must match back up when the system is balanced later.

Deposits on the other hand are a different matter. The bank assumes you put the amount in the envelope you said you did, but there’s no proof anywhere as to the envelope’s contents. The receipt really only shows that you said you made a deposit at a given time. But if you really care about your deposits, you’re not making them at an ATM anyway.

The paper receipt gives you tangible evidence of your transaction. If there is a failure at another point along their bank system, you at least have this.

Obviously, for nickel-and-dime withdrawals like 60 bucks, I won’t bother. But if it’s a larger withdrawal or a deposit, I hang onto it at least until it clears into my account.

B of A ATMs have recently started scanning the check or cash for deposits and printing them on the receipt.

There’s no “proof”, but an ATM receipt indicating $X deposit has at least minimal evidentiary value.

So how does the paper receipt help? If the envelope doesn’t contain what I said it did, the receipt isn’t going to do me any good either.

I’ve checked online within 10 minutes of making a deposit, and it already shows in my account. It’s the same system, there isn’t some person checking the deposits before they get recorded in some master system. If I can print out the statement immediately online, what added benefit does the printed receipt have? In what circumstance could I use it to demonstrate a bank error?

There’s a difference between “showing” and “clearing”, you know?

Fair enough, you’re right. I guess my point was that if it’s already showing in my account, what could happen in between that time and when it actually clears, and how is the printed receipt going to protect me in this circumstance?

[I’m assuming John McClane will protect us in the case of terrorists erasing all financial system memory banks, so let’s ignore that scenario.]

It shows up in your account because the computer just assumes you entered the correct deposit in, so the bank is willing to loan you the money (if they make the money available to you) until they actually go and empty the ATM out and verify the deposits, and submit your deposited check (if its a check) to the payor bank.

If there is theft of the money, loss of the check, or just plain human error, you may have a dispute with your bank. In that case, the more paperwork the better. For all they know, an electronic error may have resulted in the post to your account.

I keep all my withdrawal receipts. This way when I look at the statement from the bank and it says I withdrew $X at this time at this place and I don’t remember having done so, and get overly suspicious that someone managed to withdraw cash from my account, I can go back and look at the receipts to verify it. No one else does this?

I use cash so infrequently that I can remember the last time I took money out of an ATM. Any other withdrawals would be immediately noticed

I save my receipts for checkbook entry later, but I recently found another use for them. My bank charged me an ATM fee because they said I used someone else’s ATM. The receipt showed that they were wrong as it had the ATM number on it, and they removed the ATM fee based on the receipt proof.

If it shows a high balance, they’re good for writing your phone number on and giving to women. You can even get fake ones for that purpose.

Deposit receipts are very useful when you’re depositing checks - many ATMs will give you the option of printing a copy of the check on the receipt itself. Helpful if the check is taking a few days to clear, and you want to ask the bank about it.

I do, but after 30 years I wonder why because I’ve never actually had this problem. I’ve never had any transaction fail to post properly to my checking account. I have had a handful of issues with credit cards, however, and watch those statements like a hawk.

In this case, the receipt is useful. But these are newer ATMS and not terribly common in many locations.

I check my bank transactions twice a day, or more. I figured in the age of having the internet, if you’re reconciling against mailed bank statements, your calculator may as well have a pull-arm. We’re in the 3rd Millenium, paper is so 2nd Millenium.

I keep all my ATM receipts and check them off against the monthly statement.

Having been the guy at the bank who helps you out when there is a mechanical failure to dispense currency after your withdrawal has been authorized by your bank, my answer to your second question is yes.
Your ATM receipt has both the terminal ID# for the ATM in question and the serial # of your transaction.
This can easily save your banker a substantial amount of time as he or she inspects records of your transaction on the bank’s end. That helps you get straightened out more quickly than it might otherwise.
That being said, I doubt it will change your outcome, but it may save you minutes or hours of your time, and potentially get your money credit to you TODAY rather than tomorrow.
An aisde:
There’s a little-known fact that banks are required to give you a provisional credit while they investigate your claim in this matter.
A second aside:
I can’t disclose exact numbers, but:
If you’re an average consumer your odds of experiencing a dispense fault that

  • results in a charge to your account but
  • no money or an inadequate amount of money being dispensed
    are low enough that you would have to live multiple lifetimes to experience a single event.

That being said, if you’re like one of my friends, you’ve had this happen 3 times at the same ATM next to your house.