Yesterday when I mentioned Alliant Credit Union as having one of the best checking accounts, a reader described one benefit. She's able to both withdraw and deposit money at ATMs at her grocery store. Alliant Credit Union is one of many credit unions that has partnered with the ATM CO-OP Network, and this gives the credit union members access to many deposit-taking ATMs across the nation.
The ATM CO-OP Network gives credit unions an advantage over several internet banks which do not allow deposits to be made via ATMs. One of these internet banks is Ally Bank. Even though Ally Bank will refund all ATM fees for its checking account customers, it does not accept deposits from ATMs. This isn't mentioned on the Ally website. I had to verify this via the online chat service.
Another major internet bank that doesn't accept ATM deposits is ING DIRECT. Unlike Ally Bank, ING DIRECT doesn't refund ATM fees. Instead, it's part of the ATM Allpoint Network. The inability to make deposits at ATMs is mentioned at ING DIRECT's help section.
Alliant Credit Union is one of many all-access credit unions that has partnered with the CO-OP Network. Some of the other ones include Agriculture FCU, Air Force FCU, Consumers Credit Union, Digital Credit Union and Provident Credit Union.
Many of the deposit-taking CO-OP network ATMs are Vcom units in 7-Elevens. You can see the transactions that can be done in this 7-Eleven Vcom page at CU Service Centers. Note, it lists check deposits, but it doesn't list cash deposits.
These Vcom ATMs can do a lot, but I'm not sure how they compare to the new ATMs at large banks. Chase has its DepositFriendly ATMs and Bank of America has its Deposit Image ATMs which can deposit cash and checks without envelopes.
The ability to make deposits at ATMs can be convenient, but there's always the risk that the machine will malfunction. Then you'll have to figure out how to resolve the issue with the bank and hope your deposit doesn't get lost. You don't have this worry when you make a deposit using a teller at your local branch. Once the money has been deposited in your local bank or credit union, it's easy to transfer the money to your internet bank using its ACH transfer service. That's still my favorite way to deposit cash or checks. However, if banks and credit unions start cutting back on branch locations and if free checking accounts become less popular, deposit-taking ATMs may become more important.