How To Get Cash When You Lose Your ATM Card

How To Get Cash When You Lose Your ATM Card

It can happen to anybody: you stick your card into an ATM machine to make a withdrawal, only to be greeted by a strange whirring sound or error message. Congratulations: your card has just been eaten. This is annoying at the best of times, but it can swiftly turn into a disaster if you’re overseas or about to enter a long weekend. Here’s a quick tip to ensure you’ll never be short of cash.

Cash picture from Shutterstock

The solution is criminally obvious, but then, most good life hacks are: simply contact your bank today and tell them your card is damaged. They’ll promptly send out a new one free of charge, meaning you now have a backup card in case of an ATM mishap. The card number will be identical and the old card will continue to work.

You could also use the same trick with your EFTPOS card as a safeguard against it getting lost, although with the advent of PayWave and other instant payment methods, this probably isn’t such a swell idea. At the very least though, it means you’ll be able to quickly withdraw a fist-full of cash before cancelling the card.


  • Yep, been doing this for about 10 years now. Works a treat. I call this method A (for this discussion anyway 🙂

    For Method B, you can also (with some banks) issue multiple ATM cards (with different card numbers) for the same account – meaning you still have a backup card, and if you do lose one, you can safely cancel it without being without an ATM card.

    Method B works with the older debit cards (the ones with approx 8-10 digits), but am not so sure about cards with Mastercard/Visa Debit facility.

    But method A is a tried and tested failsafe.

  • Or just go into your bank, provide a bunch of personal details, previous transactions from the account, an account number (this helps ALOT) and they will give you money.

    Just make sure your signature matches the one they av on record. This can be a pain.

    • This works only when the bank is open, and is generally difficult to implement when overseas, unless you’re with a bank that seems to be everywhere like Citi or HSBC.

      Trust one who’s been through this “the ATM ate my card” scenario on a Saturday morning in another country, where the bank wouldn’t be open again until the following Tuesday due to a public holiday. When they investigated wiring money, they found out they had a minimum amount they would wire that was above the balance in my account, so they couldn’t even wire me money in the meantime!

      You want a solution to this (read: a second card of some sort) BEFORE you require it.

  • Depends on your bank. I’ve had great experiences with BankWest and ING Direct, but if you’re using a stone-age company like ANZ you WILL have your old card disabled, need to ring up to activate the new one, and depending on the particulars of your account, may also end up with a new card number (need to change any auto billing against your debit card), a new internet banking login (another thing to remember or worse write down somewhere) etc

  • I can’t remember the last time i put my card “into” a machine.

    Every ATM I come across these days is a swipe in, swipe out one – your card never actually goes inside the machine.

    • Virtually ALL bank machines you still insert your card – sounds like someone is withdrawing a lot of cash at pubs and clubs with those swipe-style cash machines 😛

      • Motorized card readers are defiantly more prevalent. Dip and Swipe readers are becoming less used, especially with the switch over to chip-only security.

        • Dip readers are still fairly prominent. To support chip cards, they ask you to leave the card dipped until the transaction is finished, same way your typical EFTPOS terminal works with chip cards.

    • Agree. This is the best option.

      The method suggested in this article shouldn’t work, because banks are supposed to cancel cards when a replacement is issued, to reduce the risk of fraud. Personally, I would put a complaint to the bank if I recovered a card that I had replaced and it still worked.

      • While I agree that cards should certainly be cancelled if reported lost or stolen, if it’s damaged I’d still want to be able to use it online, for example.

        If you still have the card with you there’s no increased risk of fraud be sending out a new one, apart from the card being intercepted, which would be a risk even if the previous cards were cancelled anyway.

  • I lost my wallet while visiting family in Perth, and stupidly called ANZ to report it, trying to to the right thing. I lost all access to my money (reporting my card lost also meant that they froze my account in online banking so I couldn’t even transfer the money elsewhere).
    Went into a branch, and they refused to let me access my money without photo id. The fact that if I had photo id, I’d also have my card seemed to be lost on them.
    Luckily I found my wallet, and so could then go back in with license to withdraw money and wait for a replacement card to be sent.

    • ANZ need to do that to protect themselves. If they didn’t, then someone who reported their card lost, then still had online access, could blame the bank if that money went missing. The photo ID point is obvious.

  • I once figured out if i told my bank i’d lost my card then they’d charge me for a replacement, but If i said it was damaged/broken/unreadable then they’d replace it free of charge.. don’t know if this is still the case as I now always tell them it’s damaged/broken/unreadable.

  • I lost my card on the the week before Good Friday. Due to the public holidays I went almost a fortnight before it could be delivered. All it took to get money was to walk down to my local bank and produce my drivers license and provide a few minor personal details.
    While I admit, I had a lot of trouble around Easter due to banks been closed, it’s really not that hard to simply walk into a bank and get access to your own money providing you know your personal details.

  • Last time my Visa card stopped operating, my bank charged me $15 for the replacement card.

    The tips I offer are quite simple:
    – Have a cash reserve. If you get screwed over with no access to you bank account having a couple hundred dollars in cash at home, should be enough to tide you over for most things, until you can get to a branch or wait for the replacement card.

    – If you can’t make a cash reserve quickly, build it up slowly. I use a jar and all coins that make it home go into it. I built up $90 in 2 months. It also makes you rethink $1 and $2 incidental purchases every time you break a $5 note, then lose the change from that.

    – Jam a $50 note in with many of you collected membership cards, or drivers licence. Instant taxi fare, or 30L of unleaded or handy when the shops eftpos is offline. My local hospital has private doctors looking after A&E after hours. If you require their services, you are not admitted and you don’t have a concession/health care card, the gap payable on the consult is $50.

    – Finally, a secondary bank account with a separate card access, and a cash reserve in that. You may cop an ATM fee, but a least you still have access.

  • Here’s a tip if your credit card and debit card come from the same (Australian) issuer: get them to assign your bank account to the Chq or Sav key on your credit card. This doesn’t happen by default, but can usually be done immediately in a branch.

Log in to comment on this story!