Keeping your money in a bank account — as opposed to under your mattress — provides the protection of federal insurance and the benefit of earning interest, but you don’t need to visit a branch bank teller to get your bills and checks where they need to go. If you deposit cash into an ATM, you can skip the hassle of working around bank business hours.

Here’s our easy guide to using an ATM to get your money into your bank account.

How to deposit cash in an ATM, step by step

Confirm whether you can deposit money into a particular ATM. While many bank ATMs allow withdrawals from noncustomers (often for a fee), you’ll typically need to use your own bank’s ATM system to make deposits.

If you have checks to deposit, prep them by signing the back. You don’t want to hold up the line at the ATM by digging for a pen to endorse your check. If checks are the only thing you’re depositing, see if your bank offers free mobile check deposit, which lets you use your smartphone to deposit checks from the comfort of your own home.

» MORE: Best banks to avoid ATM fees

Insert your debit or ATM card into the card reader and enter your PIN. This security step acts like a password for accessing your funds.

Tell the ATM which account you want to deposit into. If you have multiple checking and/or savings accounts, the ATM will ask where you would like your cash to go.

If the ATM doesn’t require an envelope, stack your bills and/or checks together and insert them. Most modern ATMs from major banks have scanning technology that can differentiate between bills and checks and can detect the total amount of money you’re depositing. Many major banks allow you to insert dozens of bills and checks at a time; there’s no need to feed them in individually or fill out a deposit slip. The ATM will tell you to insert the stack of bills and checks you want to deposit into the appropriate slot.

If the ATM does use envelopes, put your bills and/or checks inside and insert the envelope. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an ATM that uses envelopes for deposits these days, but if you do, you’ll have to put the bills and/or checks inside, seal the envelope, write the total on the envelope and manually enter the amount you’re depositing into the ATM. It may take a couple of business days for your funds to become available since the bank must confirm the deposit amount.

Verify your deposit at the machine. The last step before you finish up at the ATM is to make sure it registered the correct deposit amount into the right account. The ATM will display a message asking if the total amount you deposited is accurate; you must OK it before the funds are processed into your account.

Wait for your deposit to clear. Instantaneous access to your cash is becoming the norm, but if your bank has a waiting period, keep an eye on your accounts over the next few days to make sure the full deposit lands.

Depositing money with an online bank

If you want to deposit cash in an online-only bank account — which is becoming more popular, thanks to their high rates — you may have some extra hoops to jump through. Many online banks participate in shared ATM networks like Allpoint, which allow customers to deposit cash without surcharges. Other options may be to deposit cash in a traditional bank account, if you have one, then electronically transfer it into your online-only bank account; or buy a money order and deposit it with your online bank mobile app.

» MORE: This is what the ATM of the future will look like

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