In this guide, we’ll introduce you to bitcoin ATMs, with step-by-step instructions on where to find them, and how to use them. You will also learn what transaction fees you can expect when using a bitcoin ATM to exchange cash for bitcoin, and vice versa.
What is a Bitcoin ATM?
A bitcoin ATM is an automatic teller machine that allows users to purchase bitcoin instantly, using cash. Bitcoin ATMs are generally found in retail stores or cafes that have embraced the idea of bitcoin — though the number of bitcoin ATMs is growing every day (see map above).
There are two types of bitcoin ATMs:
- One-way bitcoin ATMs allow users to exchange cash for bitcoin. In other words, you put cash in the ATM, and you receive bitcoin in your mobile wallet. (These are called “Fiat -> Crypto” on the map above, meaning fiat currency into cryptocurrency.)
- Two-way bitcoin ATMs allow users to buy bitcoin with cash, and exchange bitcoin back into cash. With a two-way ATM, you can easily “cash out” of your bitcoin investment. (These are “Crypto -> Fiat” on the map above.)
How to Buy Bitcoin at an ATM
The process of buying bitcoin varies slightly from ATM to ATM. In general, the process works like this:
- Input the amount of bitcoin you want to buy.
- Provide your bitcoin address by scanning your mobile wallet’s QR code.
- Insert cash into the ATM.
- Confirm the transaction and receive bitcoin in your mobile wallet.
How to Exchange Bitcoin for Cash
If you are using a two-way ATM because you want to exchange your bitcoin for cash, the process is as follows:
- Input the amount of cash you want to receive.
- Send the bitcoin equivalent of that amount to the QR code you are given by the ATM.
- Take out the cash from the ATM.
Some bitcoin ATMs also require user verification, using mobile phone number validation or fingerprint scanning. This is dependent on the operator, and is usually only the case for larger transactions.
Bitcoin ATMs are also referred to as bitcoin kiosks or bitcoin vending machines because they are technically not ATMs, since they are not linked to a bank account. Instead, they are connected to an online bitcoin exchange where the currency conversion occurs.
What Are Typical Bitcoin ATM Fees?
As with traditional cash machines, bitcoin ATMs charge fees: currently an average fee of 7.5 percent. Bitcoin ATM fees are the difference between the current prevailing price of bitcoin and the price you are being charged when you buy or sell the digital currency using cash.
For example, if the price of bitcoin is currently at $1,700 and you want to purchase bitcoin using a bitcoin ATM, the ATM may charge you $1,800 per bitcoin.
Conversely, if you want to exchange bitcoin for physical cash, the bitcoin ATM may give you an exchange rate of $1,620. In this example, that would mean that the ATM is charging you a 5.88 percent purchase fee and a 4.71 percent sell fee.
Therefore, while purchasing bitcoin though a bitcoin ATM may be the most convenient way to get your hands on bitcoin, it is definitely not the cheapest.
Where Can I Find Bitcoin ATMs?
The world’s first bitcoin ATM was launched in Vancouver, Canada in October 2013. Today, however, Bitcoin ATMs can be found in most major cities around the world.
The easiest way to discover the bitcoin ATM closest to you is to use the bitcoin ATM map above, which currently lists over 1,000 bitcoin ATMs in 58 countries (thanks to Coin ATM Radar). To find a bitcoin ATM near you, simply allow the map to read your location, or drag and zoom the map manually. We’ll list ATMs near you, along with whether they’re one-way or two-way ATMs, and the price at which you can currently buy bitcoin.
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