How to use a Bitcoin ATM: the complete guide

This beginner’s guide details the full process of locating, understanding, and executing cryptocurrency purchases through convenient Bitcoin ATM kiosks using fiat cash deposits linked to digital wallets.

What is a Bitcoin ATM?

Bitcoin ATM kiosk machine

A Bitcoin ATM, sometimes referred to as a BTM (Bitcoin Teller Machine), allows consumers to easily purchase or sell cryptocurrency using cash or debit cards. They function similarly to traditional ATMs but are connected to the blockchain network instead of a bank account. Bitcoin ATMs enable quick and anonymous crypto transactions using physical kiosks located around the world.

How does a Bitcoin ATM work?

Diagram showing how a Bitcoin ATM facilitates crypto transactions

A Bitcoin ATM connects buyers and sellers directly rather than going through an intermediary like a bank or exchange. The machine is hooked up to the blockchain network to facilitate crypto transactions. Here is an overview of how Bitcoin ATMs function:
Scanning - The customer scans their wallet address using the ATM's QR code reader. This tells the machine where to deposit the purchased crypto.
Cash Insertion - Physical paper money is fed into the cash slot to fund the crypto purchase. Some ATMs accept debit card payments as well.
Selection - The customer selects the type of cryptocurrency they want to purchase and the transaction amount. Common options are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc.
Completion - With a few clicks, the transaction is executed on the blockchain and the selected crypto amount is deposited to the provided wallet address.
In essence, Bitcoin ATMs allow quick conversion between fiat currency and cryptocurrency using an automated, physical kiosk. They are simple to use for crypto beginners and do not require bank accounts or exchanges to transact.

Preparing to use a Bitcoin ATM

Before visiting a Bitcoin ATM to purchase crypto, there are a couple of important steps to take first to ensure the process goes smoothly. Let's look at how to choose a wallet and locate a nearby BTM.

Choosing a Crypto wallet

Since Bitcoin ATMs deposit crypto directly onto the blockchain, you're going to need a wallet address to receive the funds. Crypto wallets are software applications that store public and private keys and interact with various blockchains to enable sending, receiving, and securely holding crypto assets.
Popular crypto wallet options include Exodus, Coinbase Wallet, MetaMask, and Trust Wallet. For mobile Bitcoin ATM use, Coinbase Wallet or Trust Wallet work nicely as they allow convenient wallet address QR code scanning from the app. On your phone, access the "Receive" function to view and scan your necessary public wallet address. Make sure the wallet you choose supports the cryptocurrency you want to purchase.

Locating a Bitcoin ATM near you

Coin ATM Radar map interface showing Bitcoin ATM locations

According to, there are over 38,000 Bitcoin ATMs scattered across the world, but mainly concentrated in the United States. Luckily, the site offers a convenient map and tool to find a Bitcoin ATM near your location.
Enter your city and a list of BTMs are displayed on an interactive map. You can filter locations by distance, supported coins, one-way/two-way transactions, etc. Click individual location pins to view operator information, pricing/fees, and even user reviews. This ensures you visit a legitimate machine.
Aim to choose an established ATM with reasonable fees and solid user feedback. Avoid brand new or unreviewed ones where possible. Now let's walk through executing a cash purchase.

Buying Crypto from a Bitcoin ATM

We've located our Bitcoin ATM, got our crypto wallet ready - now let's walk through executing a purchase transaction.

Scanning your wallet address

First, we'll scan our wallet's unique public address to tell the Bitcoin ATM where to deposit the purchased coins. Open your mobile crypto wallet app and access the receive tab to reveal your BTC address QR code. Scan this code using the Bitcoin ATM's built-in scanner.
Double check that the address matches the one displayed on your wallet app screen. Some ATMs may require manually entering it.

Inserting cash into the ATM

Photo of a hand inserting paper cash bills into a Bitcoin ATM

Next, insert your paper money (bills) into the cash insertion slot. Many Bitcoin ATMs support various fiat currency denominations like USD and EUR. Some even take credit/debit card payments. Insert enough funds to cover your full crypto purchase amount plus any necessary fees.

Selecting your purchase amount

With cash funds added to the machine, you may now select the amount of cryptocurrency to buy. Choose your desired crypto type (Bitcoin, Ethereum etc) then input your purchase value amount.
At this step, the ATM will calculate an estimated amount of crypto you will receive for the entered fiat amount and confirm the totals.

Completing the transaction

Finally, complete the crypto acquisition by accepting the terms and conditions to finalize. This executes an on-chain blockchain transaction that delivers your purchased coins. Most Bitcoin ATMs issue a paper receipt you can use as a record for your transaction details and as proof of purchase.
And that's it - you've just conveniently bought crypto using an automated teller machine! Overall a very simple way for crypto beginners to enter the market.

After the Bitcoin ATM purchase

You purchased some shiny new cryptocurrency using physical cash and a slick Bitcoin ATM - but what happens now after walking away? Let's discuss transaction status checking and wallet transfers.

Checking the transaction status

Soon after executing the acquisition, the Bitcoin ATM broadcasts the details onto the blockchain network. However, it takes some time (approximately 10 minutes per confirmation) before the coins are fully usable in your wallet.
I always recommend checking your crypto wallet app periodically to monitor incoming transaction progress. Most wallets denote when the deposited funds are fully confirmed on the network and spendable. If an hour passes without any confirmations, contact the ATM operator to rule out potential issues.

Transferring funds to your wallet

By default, your newly bought crypto remains in the wallet address you scanned into the Bitcoin ATM. But for optimal security, many users transfer the assets into a separate wallet after around 6 confirmations.
This allows complete control - especially if you utilized a mobile wallet's address just for convenience at the ATM itself. Make sure to leave enough crypto to cover the wallet-to-wallet transfer fees assessed.
In summary, purchase follow-up involves monitoring transfer confirmations until safely received then optionally moving to your personal secure storage solution.

Bitcoin ATM tips

When visiting a Bitcoin ATM for your crypto purchase, keep these useful tips in mind to optimize the experience:

Verifying machine legitimacy

Unfortunately, some Bitcoin ATM listings are outright fake or simply non-functioning units. Before heading to the location, vet the legitimacy by calling the operator and verifying the machine's existence through reviews or social media tags. This avoids wasted trips and frustration.

Understanding fees

Crypto bought physically through ATMs typically incurs higher fees compared to online trades because of the specialized service conveniences they provide. Fees range from 5% to 15% of transaction amounts.
Compare rates across various operators in your area and aim to choose reasonable ones. Many Bitcoin ATMs display current fees directly on-screen or through posted signs.

Setting the transaction speed

Bitcoin ATMs give users some control to dictate the speed of confirmations by adjusting the mining payment fee assessed. Higher fees incentivize faster blockchain confirmations since transactions become more lucrative to verify for miners.
If needing crypto funds instantly, crank up the mining payment fee for near instantaneous transaction speeds. If you can wait up to an hour, reduced fees work fine. This helps optimize costs.
By following these tips, your experience purchasing from a Bitcoin ATM can become smoother and more cost-effective overall.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let's review answers to some top questions surrounding Bitcoin ATM usage below:

Are Bitcoin ATMs anonymous?

In the early days, Bitcoin ATMs facilitated private, anonymous transactions since collection of user data was rare. However, now to comply with anti-money laundering regulations, operators require a form of identification for larger transactions typically. Small purchases under €1000 may only need a phone number.

Are there purchase limits?

Yes - maximum purchase amounts span between €1000 to €5000 per individual transaction. Daily cumulative limits range from €5000 to €15000 as well depending on geographical jurisdiction and compliance factors. Selling crypto also carries capped thresholds in similar bounds.

Can i also sell Crypto?

Select Bitcoin ATM units support two-way transactions, enabling both buying AND selling cryptocurrencies for cash. To sell crypto from an ATM, you'll need to scan your external wallet address (typically via QR code) that contains the funds rather than providing the machine a receiving address.
If new to crypto, locate a device with robust customer reviews explicitly confirming reliable performance for supported transaction types.
Hopefully this overview helps provide answers to some common questions people have around effectively utilizing Bitcoin ATMs.


Bitcoin ATMs provide crypto beginners an intuitive way to enter the market using traditional cash instead of undergoing lengthy online verification procedures. Units popping up across major metropolitan cities make finding one quicker than ever.
We discussed critical first steps like choosing a wallet and locating legitimate devices in your area. During the Bitcoin ATM process itself, we covered address scanning, cash insertions, inputting amounts, and reviewing key machine tips.
While Bitcoin ATM transaction fees average higher than online alternatives, the increased privacy, convenience, and accessibility can outweigh the premium costs depending on personal preference and location.
In summary - Bitcoin ATMs now allow practically anyone to conveniently convert physical fiat funds into digital assets 24/7. However, always conduct due diligence first before utilizing. I recommend starting with a nominal test amount if unfamiliar.
As the cryptocurrency ecosystem progresses, expect the Bitcoin ATM adoption trend to continue flourishing across the world in coming years thanks to useful applications like hassle-free cash conversions.
I hope you found this guide valuable. Let me know if any questions pop up in your Bitcoin ATM experience!

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