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If you suddenly find yourself in need of cash but don't have your debit card, don't despair. There are a number of ways to withdraw money from a checking account without a debit card. Most of the solutions revolve around having a smartphone and a mobile app at your disposal, but that doesn't mean you can't get cash without a smartphone; it's just slightly more old-school. 

Debit card-free options

 Living without a debit card is completely possible. Whether you choose not to carry a traditional wallet, or you accidentally left your debit card at the restaurant last night, you have both digital and traditional methods to complete what you might think can only be done as a debit card transaction.

 

Digital options for a cardless cash withdrawal

 

You can use a safe and secure cardless ATM to get a cash withdrawal via smartphone apps that are connected to your bank account. Cardless ATMs may check your identity through a QR code, biometric identification, or a text message confirmation code.

 

The latest smartphones have near-field communication (NFC) capabilities, and mobile wallets and banking apps will make accessing your cash much easier.

 

Peer-to-peer platforms like Cash App® or Venmo® let you access cash without a debit card. Digital wallets, or mobile wallets, like Apple Wallet® or Google Pay®, are also quite popular, and you can also simply use your bank or credit union's mobile app.

 

Many of these options may include relying on a friend or reputable business to receive payment from you to withdraw cash to facilitate the money movement.

 

Checking account transactions without an ATM or a debit card in hand are a growing trend. You can get cash back at a point-of-sale location, too, using your digital wallet.

 

Traditional options to access your cash

 

A teller may allow you to access cash without a debit card during regular banking hours at your financial institution. There are multiple options at your bank or credit union depending on how much money you need to withdraw.

 

Use your checking account information to send money to yourself when you don't have a debit card, smartphone, or mobile app. This can include transferring money between accounts at multiple financial institutions (just keep in mind it may be easier to use your digital tools for such transfers).

 

Accessing cash with your smartphone

 

The quickest and most effective way to access the cash in your checking account is to use a smartphone coupled with a mobile wallet or money app. To set this up, you'll need to select a phone application that supports electronic transactions like Cash App or Google Pay.

 

After installing the app on your phone, you'll need to create an account and add your debit card information. Once everything is ready, you can simply tap your phone against the NFC symbol on a cardless ATM or NFC terminal, and a secure connection will be created.

Cardless ATMs

This is a unique method of getting cash from your checking account without your debit card. You can actually use your phone at the ATM instead of a card.

 

To begin the process, you simply open the mobile wallet on your smartphone and tap your phone over the ATM's NFC symbol. You'll then put your debit card PIN into the ATM's numeric keypad and can immediately take out cash from your checking account.

 

Although the technology is expanding, check with your bank to see whether cardless withdrawals are available to you. You may have checking accounts with cardless ATM access and not know it.

 

Many major banks offer cardless cash withdrawals. It might be helpful to compare checking accounts with cardless ATM access, paying particular attention to their withdrawal limits. You can do so by looking at the bank's mobile app or website, or by visiting a nearby branch.

NFC terminals

 In order to get cash from a cardless ATM, you must have access to NFC technology. Near-field communication is a method of wirelessly transferring data between devices in close proximity. This is the same technology you use when tapping your smartphone against a register to pay for your items.

 

Without an actual debit card, you can get cash from any compatible ATM with the NFC symbol. Plus, your security is not at risk when you withdraw cash with your phone instead of a debit card. 

 

NFC technology uses encryption when sending and reading sensitive banking information to keep your transaction secure. Remember that smartphones already have other security features built in, like passcodes, fingerprint access, and face ID, so you can withdraw cash with the assurance that your personal banking information is protected.

 

The latest smartphones support NFC technology, but if you have an older model, go to your settings and search for NFC to ensure it's enabled. If a result pops up, you are likely already connected. If you don't see access, simply search for something like "NFC easy connect" and set it up.

Digital wallets 

Withdrawing cash from your bank account through NFC requires not only a smartphone, but also that you set up a secure digital wallet with it: for example, Google Pay, Apple Wallet, or Samsung Pay®.

 

Some banks and credit unions offer their own versions of mobile wallets. These will authorize you to set up a secure link to your online bank account services and use NFC technology without setting up a specific profile within a separate mobile wallet. You may already be using smartphone wallets to pay for purchases on the go, so you know the technology makes it easy to access your money without a debit card.

 

If digital wallets are new to you, to get money out of your checking account without your ATM or debit card (or visiting a branch in person) you will need to use a mobile application. 

 

You will need your current account number, your routing number, and perhaps some additional bank account information. You'll then be able to take advantage of app-based cardless cash options. While applications provide various ways to withdraw money without a debit card, they must all use information that has already been set up in your mobile wallet or app.

 

It's a simple process, but should be done in advance of your needing to withdraw money. Here are the steps to set up a digital wallet:

 

  • Open your wallet app on your smartphone  

  • Add your personal details to your wallet app 

  • Scan your debit card or manually enter its data 

  • You're done 

Peer-to-peer payments

Another way to obtain cash without a debit card is through secure mobile applications that authorize peer-to-peer, or P2P, payments. This means you can use your checking account to instantly send money to a friend who can then give you the cash. Peer-to-peer payment applications include:

 

Besides your own bank or credit union's mobile banking app or online banking site, you will need to download and set up your preferred application before you can transfer money this way. Your friend will need to be using the same application for a seamless transfer to occur.

 

Try to select and set up an app that your friends and colleagues are already using, or that send money without too many additional steps. You may need to know their phone number or email to set up the transfer.

 

Accessing cash without a smartphone

 

If you find yourself without your debit card or a smartphone — or you still have yet to get that digital wallet set up — there are still a number of ways to access your checking account funds. Your local community bank teller or member service representative at your credit union can help you with a variety of options.

Visit a bank branch

Withdrawing money from your checking account without a debit card or ID may feel problematic if you rely on your debit card. This type of customer service is pretty standard at most financial institutions.

 

This might also be a necessary option if you encounter an ATM withdrawal limit while using your debit card or smartphone.

 

If you go to a bank teller and explain that you do not have your debit card, they will likely ask to see some form of identification. If you have no government ID (especially if you don't have your wallet), be prepared to answer a series of security questions. This, however, would be time-consuming and must be done during business hours.

Write yourself a check 

What else can you do if you have no debit card and no smartphone? If you still use paper checks, you already know can write a check to yourself. If the process is new to you, it's still possible to write a check to yourself at a check-cashing establishment and get your money that way.

 

Similar to the digital P2P option, a friend can write you a check, which you can then cash if you don't have access to your smartphone and its mobile apps.

Wire transfer to an external account

You can transfer money from one account to another without an ATM card at your bank branch, and sometimes by phone. You can request a wire transfer to your own or someone else's external checking or savings account. Once again, you will need some form of official identification, or to verify your identity by phone. Even between your own accounts, wire transfers usually include a fee to move money from one account to another.

 

You can always use your online banking to move money around between your own checking or savings account. These services may have a transfer or withdrawal limit but are generally more flexible regarding methods of accessing your money, often without additional fees.

Western Union®

This method is available almost everywhere, most notably local pharmacies, drugstores, and post offices displaying the Western Union name or symbol. Western Union allows you to send and track money all over the world. Although there are fees from Western Union, this is a common option for people who send money internationally.

 

If you don't have your debit card, you can still obtain money from your checking account by accessing Western Union's website, contacting a representative by phone, or visiting a location near you to start the process.

 

As long as you have your bank account information or a credit card available, you can follow the same steps in person, online, or over the phone. You will select a location for pickup, and once it is ready, you can walk to the location, present your ID, and pick up your cash.

Money order

Friends or family members can send you money using money orders for a small fee. These are available from banks, but also from the post office. Once you receive your money order, you can cash it in just like a check. There are many businesses, like MoneyGram® or Western Union, that offer this service, or you can cash your money order at your personal bank instead.

 

Because money orders require cash to purchase them, they may be more likely to be accepted than a personal check.

Prepaid debit card

If you have the time to wait (or plan ahead) you can get money from a prepaid debit card. Assuming you're using a previously loaded card that's connected to your checking account, you can use this prepaid card to access your own money if you don't have your official debit card with you.

 

If you have previously loaded a prepaid debit card with cash from your checking account, you can use that to access your own money if your actual debit card is not with you.

Credit card cash advance 

While not an ideal option, if your find yourself without a debit card but you do have a credit card, you can get a cash advance from many ATM locations. It will reduce your available credit by the amount of the withdrawal, plus a possible ATM fee. You may need your credit card PIN number, too.

 

It's important to know that most credit cards begin charging interest, often at a higher rate, from the date you take out the cash advance. There is no grace period until the end of the billing cycle as there are with purchases.

Emergency cash service at banks or credit unions

If you have lost your debit card, report it immediately. Some banks allow you to access your checking account funds on an emergency basis. Contact your community bank or credit union to receive a security code, which you can use to make an ATM withdrawal.

 

Many banks let you withdraw cash to cover expenses while you wait for a replacement card. Other banks may allow you to access their emergency cash service if you simply don't have your card with you.

 

Some banks and credit unions can even generate a new card on-site in minutes, sometimes for a fee.

 

Plan for a future of cardless cash withdrawal

 

Even if you don't think you'll ever need to withdraw cash from your bank account without your debit card, you should prepare for the unlikely event by saving your card in your smartphone's mobile wallet. Similarly, you should set up at least one payment app to open up more possibilities.

 

Once you use any of these advanced options, you will no longer need your physical debit card to take money out of your checking account.

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