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Can You Enter Any Bank After Hours With Credit Cards?

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One day I was going to the Bank of America ATM after hours to make a deposit when I pulled out my debit card to swipe it at the door. It made the familiar clicking sound, I went in and stuck my card into the ATM. When I entered my PIN, the machine told me it was wrong and spit my card back out. That’s when I realized I had put my Citi mtvU card, which, when you only view the bottom quarter centimeter of the card in a wallet, looks remarkably like the Bank of America debit card; into the ATM. This also meant that I had swiped the front door with a credit card not affiliated with Bank of America. I went back and tried it again with a couple other credit cards and even a card with my fiancee’s name on it (we share a Discover Gas card), all of them worked!

This could’ve been a matter of the card reader scanning the card, processing the customer data and matching it with their database; in which case all would be well. Unfortunately I can’t test my theory out on Bank of America because I have an account there and I don’t have a credit card belonging to someone who doesn’t, but I can try to swipe at a local SunTrust after hours to see if my credit cards worked there. However, if any of you have local banks that have card readers and you don’t have an account there, try one of your cards to see if you can get access and please let us know. Maybe we’ve uncovered some hidden security flaw…

{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “Can You Enter Any Bank After Hours With Credit Cards?”

  1. Catrijn says:

    This is the way these systems are designed – the default behavior is exactly what you described. They’ll allow access to anyone with any kind of banking card – there’s no reason to prevent non-members from using your ATM, especially with the associated fees. The swipe is mostly to keep out homeless people and (try to) prevent vandalism.

  2. Emily says:

    I don’t think it’s a flaw. You can use any debit or credit card at any ATM to get a cash advance (and the owner of that ATM gets to charge you a fee for it), so it makes sense that the bank would open its doors to anyone holding any kind of card, whether a regular customer at that bank or not. In fact, it’s probably better for them to have people who DON’T have accounts there coming in because they can charge higher service fees.

  3. Catrijn says:

    This is well known, it’s always been this way. No need to check since the ATM areas are secure, and they are happy to let another banks cards be used in the machines (=fees) even credit cards have pins. So as long as you have a card, you can get in.

  4. Patrick says:

    I think the previous comment sums it up best – the banks want ATM fees. Any card should get you access to the ATM because a bank is a business and anyone with an ATM card is a potential customer. At $1-3 per transaction, that can add up very quickly!

    An ATM kiosk would make a great shelter for a homeless person, so that is another great point.

  5. Klarla says:

    Maybe they just log the name on the card to a DB. If there’s trouble, they have a list of “persons of interest”. Of course, it wouldn’t help if the card is stolen.

  6. Brent T. Dukes says:

    I think you can use just about any credit card because you can use a normal credit card in the ATM if you’re really desperate for cash :)

  7. Catrijn says:

    BofA ATM machines are connected to other ATM networks like Cirrus, STAR, Plus!, etc.

    Chances are, your Citi mtvU card supports one of those networks. So, since you could have legitimate business with the ATM machine even though you are not a BofA customer, you were allowed to come in.

  8. ming says:

    Any credit card works. That’s how you can get cash advance from the CC.

  9. Curtis says:

    I don’t see any reason why banks wouldn’t let you in with a credit card — if you aren’t a customer, they get to charge you the “foreign” ATM fee for the transaction, and if it’s that bank’s card they get the cash advance fee too. It’s probably quite lucrative to allow credit card holders into ATM vestibules.

    Also, I can imagine a potentially negative story for banks that read something like this: John Smith was in dire need of cash and only had a credit card. There was a Big Bad Bank ATM nearby, but he couldn’t get to it because his credit card wasn’t accepted by the card scanner — the bank only lets its OWN customers use its ATMs. Mr. Smith died (or had something else really bad happen to him) because Big Bad Bank wouldn’t let him get a credit card cash advance at their ATM….

    :)

  10. MoneyFwd says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s just to keep the homeless out and to keep out unintelligent vandals and criminals.

    It’s also possible that a driver’s license with a magnetic strip will work, although I’ve never tried it.

  11. Mike says:

    The bank will likely allow you to gain entry as long as you have a card that is valid in any of the networks their ATM is part of. With the prevalence of fees on non-customers these days, it would be a bad move to keep someone out who is an in-network, non-customer. And I’m sure they log every time you swipe in as well. Another piece of information they have if damage occurs, or what not.

  12. Anything with a magnetic strip will work. I used to use my student ID to get in since that was usually the first thing I could pop out of my wallet. It doesn’t care what you use; just htat you use something.

  13. Punny Money says:

    Heh, I read the title and thought you were jimmying open the bank door with your card.

  14. Tyler says:

    I’ve seen people open those doors with gym membership card as well as student/employee ID cards. Not sure if this is true of every bank or not.

  15. Jim says:

    What Blaine said is correct. Any bank/atm simply requires a card of any sort with a magnetic strip. License, Debit/Credit, Movie Theater Card, etc. They all work.

  16. some guy says:

    Needing a card is indeed simply to keep out the homeless. Not that it works very well.

  17. Tim says:

    i concur, this has been reality for a very long time if not since inception. in fact, when i was in college and went to NYC for the weekend, we use to crash out in the atm rooms for an hour or two.

  18. Marilyn says:

    I have tried the driver’s licence with magnetic strip and it works too. Back in the early 90s, my self defense teacher taught us to use ATMs in stores only because isolated ATMs admit anyone with any card with a magnetic strip. Conversely if you go into a store to use the strip, anyone with criminal intent does not know if you went into the store to make a purchase, get directions, or use the ATM (so always stop by the counter), they may not see you use the ATM, they don’t know how much of the money that you withdrew has been spent inside the store etc…

    Besides if you use that isolated bank ATM they may record any crime on cameras but they aren’t live monitored so no one will come to your rescue. It will only help with the prosecution.

    If safety is your concern, go to a store with an ATM.


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