How do I Choose the Best ATM Supplies?

Maggie Worth

There are two main factors to consider when purchasing ATM supplies: what type of machine you have and how much usage your machine gets. Modern ATMs typically need only one supply—rolls of paper tape. These come in a variety of widths and lengths, so choosing the proper width for your machine and roll lengths appropriate for your ATM's usage is important. Some tape also comes preprinted with advertising on the back, which can save you money, or even make you money in some cases. Paper quality also is a consideration, as higher-quality paper typically results in fewer receipt jams.

Customers may need deposit slips and envelopes to add money to their accounts from an ATM.
Customers may need deposit slips and envelopes to add money to their accounts from an ATM.

Most merchant-owned ATMs use thermal printers. As a result, most ATMs need only one consumable supply on a regular basis: paper tape. Paper tape comes in rolls and is changed out in a manner similar to cash register tape. Many ATMs have two printers: one for receipts and one for the internal journal, which is a record of all transactions and of balancing activity. Some ATMs use the receipt printer to print the journal each time the machine is balanced, while others use an electronic journal and print only the settlement details on paper.

Portable ATMs typically only need a power source to operate.
Portable ATMs typically only need a power source to operate.

The first consideration when choosing paper tape is the width of the roll. Different manufacturers and different models require different tape widths. Some standard widths include 2.75 inches, 3 inches, 3.125 inches and 3.15 inches (about 6.98 cm, 7.62 cm, 7.93 cm and 8 cm), but these may vary by country. Check the manufacturer's website or ask your salesperson about the paper width required by each of your machine's printers.

The length of the roll also is an important consideration. Most receipt rolls are 443 feet, 800 feet or 890 feet (about 135 m, 244 m or 271 m) long. Journal tape rolls are often much shorter because they are located in a smaller compartment. Journal tape is usually 100 feet or 190 feet (about 30 m or 58 m) long.

ATM supplies are produced based on the most commonly-used products, so shorter or longer rolls may be unavailable for certain machines. If you do have a choice, base your decision on the amount of usage your machine gets. For example, if your machine does a lot of transactions in a typical week, you may want to choose a longer tape roll so you do not have to change the paper as often.

Many suppliers also offer a choice between standard blank receipt paper or receipt paper that is pre-printed with coupons on the back side. Marketing companies specialize in selling ads to businesses and manufacturers, printing coupons onto special paper and selling the rolls to ATM owners. Depending on the marketing company, you may be eligible to receive free paper or even to make money using their receipt paper. Be aware that the coupons can affect any in-store branding agreements you may have and that some users have reported frequent jams because this type of paper is often slightly thicker than standard paper. It may be wise to ask for a trial roll before agreeing to a program.

It's also important to consider the company that is selling the ATM supplies. It generally is best to choose a company that has reasonable prices but also offers a quality product. Cheap paper isn't really less expensive if your machine is constantly down due to paper jams. In many instances, the vendor is as important as the product itself. Opt for a vendor whose minimum purchase quantity, delivery fee and return policy fit with your needs.

There are other supplies to consider aside from tape, but these typically are purchased infrequently. For example, you may need network signage and surcharge notification decals. Many companies that sell receipt and journal tape also sell these ATM supplies.

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