This is a follow-up of Why don't ATMs give you cash before your card?

As shown in the linked question, whether an ATM give you cash first or card first will make users tend to forget the other. So why not both? Why can't ATMs spit out both cash and card together and show on screen "Please take your cash and card"?

4 Answers 4


Serial beats parallel: only focusing on your card and then only focusing on your cash is physically and cognitively easier.


  • a) Literally trying to take your card and your cash at the same time
  • b) Taking your card and then reminding yourself that your cash is already waiting or vice versa

The downside of parallel tasks is, I think, increased pressure to complete any given task more quickly than you would otherwise because one or more tasks are already waiting.

If you were to withdraw a large amount of cash, you might feel uncomfortable with it hanging there in the ATM slot; on the other hand, logic would dictate you take your card because it's more important. Why rush and why choose?


A senior bank manager (too long ago for me to remember the source) once told me that this was actually done on purpose (and user tested in the field), with more or less the following background/logic:

  • By far the largest percentage of ATM use cases is people doing a single transaction = get cash
  • The purpose (and therefore focus of the user) is on his/her endgoal = cash.
  • So users think "got cash, = completely done".
  • Which (in case of cash-first flow) lead to many forgotten cards.
  • Giving card-first (NB: you must take your card, otherwise you do not get cash) helps to keep user in dialogue with ATM.

PS: In another thread (link) I found a similar answer to similar question, which explains it in more detail, and includes references.

  • BofA now has you just dip your card into the machine so it doesn't keep it at all. The issue they then deal with is someone leaves without being 'done' and someone else does a transaction. You can probably fix that with computer vision using the security camera to detect someone left... Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 19:18

Do they ever give cash first? In my experience, they always give card first, because it's the easier item to forget.

Card Received First:

User's thoughts: I'm here at the ATM to get cash.

If user receives cash first: Objective complete, let's leave. (Card is forgotten)

If user receives card first: I see the card, I take it, I am still waiting to complete my objective of getting money. (Waits for cash to dispense, then takes it)


Worst-case scenarios

Cash Received First:

If forgets card: Oh no, this is a huge hassle, will this fraud get cleared or will it ruin my credit?

Card Received First:

If forgets cash: Oh no, I have lost a few hundred dollars max since that's the max withdrawal, but my bank acct is still safe


What is more expensive for the bank? For the user to forget to take cash (because card comes out first), and lose money for their own mistake, or for users to lose credit card, claim fraud, then fraud must be investigated and possibly the bank must pay for all charges in ADDITION to fraud investigator salaries.

So, the worst-case scenario is worse for both users and bank, so banks dispense cards first because it's much more painful for both parties to lose than the cash.


  • 1
    If you forget your money (and no one else takes it) it will be retracted after a few seconds and reversed to your account. Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 5:54
  • Learnt it the hard way: used to "card first", trip to location with "cash first, keep card, ask if I'd like another transaction", withdraw money, see bus coming, grab money, run for bus. -- Fortunately, "remote" also means getting your card returned after two days because "the guy collecting it comes back tomorrow".
    – peterchen
    Commented Nov 13, 2015 at 8:46

Stealing would be easier if both the card and money are dispensed at the same time. Especially if you only have one hand free, holding a phone, bag, food, etc.

Most people put the card and the money in different pockets in their wallet so it is actually easier getting them separate.

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