What to do if the atm swallows your card


Incidents with ATMs are relatively frequent. Although the most common incident is finding one that is out of service, occasionally an ATM may take your card.

In 2018 158 complaints were lodged with the Banco de España in connection with this service.

Why would an ATM retain your card? The most common reasons relate to security and to technical issues involving the terminal itself, such as:

  1. Entering the wrong PIN repeatedly.
  2. Not removing the card from the slot in a specific time period (around 40 seconds). The dispenser detects that there is no activity and emits warning noises before retaining it. If you are trying to withdraw cash, the ATM will not dispense it because it would be giving you the money after retrieving your card.
  3. Your bank has issued an order to retain it because it has expired or has been blocked.
  4. Internal or external technical problems with the ATM, e.g. a sudden power cut.

If this happens to you, remember that your card is still active, so act rapidly:

  1. Notify the issuing bankAbre en ventana nueva without delay. Remember that according to current regulationsAbre en ventana nueva, a phone number should be clearly visible at the ATM to report any incidents. However, if the branch is open, the best option is to report the problem to any of the employees there.
  2. If you cannot contact your bank at that moment and you have online banking, block your card immediately if that option is available to you.
  3. Do not leave the ATM while you are dealing with the situation. The terminal might eject your card without any warning.
  4. Once the incident has been resolved, review your bank account statement to check if there have been any unauthorised movements.
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