Do you keep ATM receipts?

I've occasionally heard some bank-insider's tips that say it's a good habit to keep the ATM receipts and check them against the online bank log.

Having a programmer background I cannot understand what could possibly happen since it's (supposed to be) an automated procedure that picks always the right amount of money from my bank account.


  • Should be CW, since it is a poll type question.
    – JohnFx
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 14:48
  • Punch "Byzantine generals problem" into your favorite search engine. Guaranteeing that a transaction appears once, and only once, is not trivial. Commented Jun 21, 2016 at 15:54

8 Answers 8


It is a good idea to keep the receipts. The reason being that the dispensation from the ATM and the debit to the account are async process. There are multiple handshakes during this process between the hardware of the ATM, the software controlling the ATM and the core banking software. like any software programming, there are chances of errors, ie amounts being debit wrong due to bugs, or duplicate of transactions being posted. Altough such errors would normally get caught during recon between the ATM software and the Core Banking postings, its advisable to keep the receipts and verify erroneous debits. In such cases, the receipts would provide additional information required by the Bank to rectify the errors promptly.

  • 3
    Good explanation. Just wanted to add that once you have reconciled the ATM transaction with your bank statement (or at the very least the transaction has been synced up with Mint/Quicken), there is little need to keep the receipt around anymore, unless you need to document something for tax purposes. Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 16:49
  • @msemack: Agree
    – Dheer
    Commented Dec 8, 2010 at 9:12
  • Thermal papers don't last anyways. They will completely fade in about 4-6 months.
    – Nelson
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 0:50

I've found it's just simpler to keep all of my receipts rather than debate which receipts to keep and which to throw away.

I shove all my receipts from August in an envelope labeled August. Then, next year (12 months later) I shred the envelope. That way, if I see a bank error, need to find a receipt to do a return or warranty work, etc. I have all of them available for a year. Doing 1 envelope per month means I only have 12 envelopes at any time and I can shred an entire envelope without bothering to sort through receipts inside the envelope.

  • 1
    That sounds pretty organized and disciplined. I wish I had done that with a dead DVD player recently.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 16:01
  • Alex, has this served you well in the past? Did you spot some inconsistencies with your account balance that you could prove with the receipts?
    – Lorenzo
    Commented Aug 23, 2010 at 20:37
  • 1
    @LDeLeo I have caught mistakes before. The two most recent uses were to return something I bought 60 days ago and to prove my purchase date and send something in for Warranty Repair that I bought 6 months ago.
    – Alex B
    Commented Dec 7, 2010 at 18:10

It's a good idea to keep them, just until your statement arrives. As a programmer you know its supposed to be automatic, but glitches do happen. Keeping the receipt till your statement is probably not necessary 99.999999% of the time, but it might save your butt one time, which would be worth it.


As a programmer*, I expect the ATM and counter receipts to have an error and look hard for it. If I don't find the error I usually cram it in my pocket which is the same as throwing it away.

I should keep them, but I also look at my online balances for almost all of my accounts several times a week so I (perhaps foolishly) don't worry about paper receipts too much.

*Maybe I should be a tester.

  • I check my online balance daily and on the few times I have found discrepancies the bank was quick to fix the problem without asking me for proof. With fast catches they can pull the logs before they get buried too much.
    – Wayne
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 18:29

I carefully file them in my wallet so I can reconcile them with my bank statement at the end of the month. Then when my wallet starts getting to cluttered I trash them all.

For the record, I never get around to reconciling them either.

  • Hey, you copied my strategy!
    – bstpierre
    Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 1:17

Having the receipt at least for a little while does make it easier to correct a mistake, if and when it does happen. I had an error happen to me some years ago trying to withdraw money from an ATM in a 7-11 somewhere while on vacation (receipt came out, money didn't).

Having the receipt made it easier to correct the mistake when I got back from vacation.


I think it's interesting that the other answers here all focus on the possibility of a software glitch or other unintentional error in the ATM behaviour.

Personally, I keep ATM receipts so that if I spot a withdrawal I don't recognise, it sways it in favour of being fraud (as opposed to memory failure) if I also don't have a receipt for it.

I also always withdraw the same amount and it is not one of the default amounts presented on the screen. Again, just a way to make any fraudulent transaction stand out on my statement.


So that when a suspicious transaction appears on your statement, you will note it.

ex. You have 5 transactions each $100 dollars each. You keep the receipts. At the end of the month, online shows 6 transactions at $100 each. Without actually reconciliation, you will likely not remember off the cuff, if all 6 transactions are valid.

Yes, anecdotally this has happened to myself, both with credit cards (skimming) and atm (???).

Without reconciliation at the end of the month, I certainly will not remember if I went to the ATM six vs five times.

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