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Big bank ATM withdrawal restrictions suggests cash no longer king

Alex Ritchie avatar
Alex Ritchie
- 4 min read
Big bank ATM withdrawal restrictions suggests cash no longer king

The payment behaviour of Australians has changed significantly over the last five years prompting banks to now request customers call ahead if needing to draw large amounts of cash.

The decrease in need for cash public transport services, increase of ride share services, and popularity of contactless payment services has meant the need to carry cash has dwindled.

The latest Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) data show ATM withdrawals from debit cards have dropped by 23% in the last five years while the number of ATM withdrawals has dropped by 40% in the same timeframe, in seasonally adjusted terms.

‘High cash users’ – defined by the RBA as those who use cash for 80% or more of their in-person transactions, now represent only about 7% of Australians – a number that halved between 2019 and 2022.  

Cash not as popular, but still in regular use 

While cash may not be the dominant form of payment for Australians, it is a long way off from being removed entirely. Data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority found that in the month of April 2023 alone, a total of $8.5 billion was withdrawn from ATMs in over 29 million transactions. 

However, all banks have limits on how much cash you can withdraw from an ATM, EFTPOS facility or Australia Post terminal for security purposes. For example, CommBank’s maximum daily withdrawal limit is $2,000 (certain cards are lower) while ANZ’s daily ATM limit is typically $1,000. Westpac debit cards have a default setting of $1,000, however customers can typically set their limits up to $2,000.  

Digital lenders can have slightly higher limits – for example, online-only bank ING lets customers access $2,200 per day via an ATM or other terminal. 

Large cash withdrawals need to be planned ahead

While most banks will still offer cash withdrawal services, it pays to check your local branch and, in some cases, call ahead if you are needing to withdraw large amounts.

Cash withdrawal limits and services for big four banks 

Max withdrawal limit - ATM

Max withdrawal limit - branch

Cash withdrawal available at counter for all branches?

CBA

Up to $2000 (depending on the card)

No limit – call ahead for large amounts

Yes

Westpac

$2,000

No limit – call ahead for large amounts

Yes

NAB

$2,000

No limit – call ahead for large amounts

No

ANZ

$1,000 (up tp $2,500 on request)

No limit - advised to make appointment for amounts over $10K

No

Source: RateCity.com.au. Note, NAB does not offer cash withdrawals at the counter for its Expert Centre or Tellerless branches. Data accurate as of 07/07/2023.

What’s safer - cash or card?

The RBA noted that the increase in concerns over privacy and cybersecurity has spurred a drive for Australians to withdraw and safekeep their cash. While hiding it under the mattress may seem the best option, it still runs a risk of being stolen and means any potential interest earned from a decent savings account is lost. 

Cybersecurity threats are and will continue to be a serious concern, however strong passwords, spending alerts on your phone, strict daily limits and vigilance against scam emails and texts, can all help keep your money safe in the bank. Additionally, the federal government will guarantee your money in the event of a bank collapse by up to $250,000 per person, per institution. 

It’s no secret that the way we handle cash has changed – fuelled by the COVID pandemic, a rapid increase in touchless technology and the options we have to pay for things. Many people are customers of major banks because of the benefits the branches hold, including being able to take out larger than usual amounts of cash when they might need it.

However, it is challenging to think that some customers may not be sure if their local bank can hand you your own cash over the counter. If you’re not sure, make sure to go online, or check ahead of any large withdrawals you may need.

Cash is likely to become even less popular as time goes by. Knowing how best you can secure your money in a bank is the best way to manage it moving forward. 

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This article was reviewed by Public Relations Manager Eden Radford before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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Product data updated on 26 Feb 2024