How to Cash in Your Change For Free with a CoinStar Machine

Coinstar_No_fee_gift_card_rolls_of_changeI’m sure you’ve seen CoinStar machines at your local grocery store and some of you may already use their services, but the hefty fee has always kept me away.  I typically pay for all my purchases with my Barclaycard, but for some reason I still seem to accumulate quite a bit of change.

When I was younger, I actually enjoyed rolling up change and cashing it in at the bank.  One year, I got an electric change counter for my birthday and went to town!  It didn’t work too well but it got the job done for small amounts of change.

I’m sure the change counting technology has improved since then, but I can’t justify spending any money on a change counter these days.  I just don’t spend enough cash and therefore get enough change to make it worthwhile.  I’d like to think that my time is somewhat worthwhile so I definitely don’t want to waste it rolling up quarters and pennies.

I’d Rather Not Pay a Fee

So that pretty much leaves me with only two options: let my change sit in a jar and lose out to inflation or take it to a CoinStar and pay a hefty 9.8% fee.  Until recently, I chose the former.  There’s not a whole lot of use for change these days, casinos won’t even take change in their slot machines anymore.  I would rather let my money sit there idle than pay some company 10 cents on the dollar to count my money haha.  Most of my readers should know by now that I hate fees!

Last year, I heard about a promotion on Slickdeals between Amazon and Coinstar where you would get an additional $5 in MP3′s for any $20 pour into an Amazon.com gift card.  When I looked further into the deal, I discovered that Coinstar now charges(I guess they’ve been offering this for a while) no fee pours when you redeem for a gift card.  There’s a pretty extensive list of companies that you can opt for a gift card from and as soon as I saw that Amazon was one of them, I was in.  Here are a few of the main ones:

  • Albertsons
  • Amazon.com
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • iTunes
  • Lowe’s
  • Lucky
  • Marriott
  • Sears
  • Starbucks

In my opinion gift cards are as good as cash these days so there’s really no point in paying a 10% fee to get cash when you can get a gift card for free.

Amazon Gift Card = Cash

I buy a ton of stuff on Amazon since they have great prices, free 2 day shipping with Prime and amazing customer service.  Even though they now charge sales tax in California, I always manage to get a hold of Amazon gift cards at a 10-20% discount.  There’s really no better feeling than coming home to a gigantic box of paper towels on your doorstep :)

So I guess I don’t hate CoinStar machines anymore now that I can cash out without a fee.  I’m sure all the companies listed above have some sort of kickback agreement with CoinStar but that’s fine with me as long as there’s no fee for me.  I was planning on waiting until I have kids and having them roll up my change for me, so I guess I’ll get to cash in a little earlier than expected.

Readers, did you know about this CoinStar trick?  Or is there a better/easier/faster method of turning change into cash out there that most people may not know about.

-Harry @ PF Pro

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Hi, I'm Harry, the owner and head writer for Your PF Pro. I started this site back in 2011 in order to create a place where young professionals could come and get all of their financial questions answered. On the site, you'll find articles on everything from asset allocation for retirement to saving money at Chipotle! So enjoy..

Comments

  1. says

    Great post!

    Two things: First of all, I did know about the new Coinstar, but the particular one I had used didn’t have a store that I shop at so I couldn’t take advantage of the offer. Fortunately, there is a place near my home which does offer Amazon certificates.

    Secondly, and more importantly, after I did find that the aforementioned Coinstar didn’t have what I needed, I quickly decided that I, too, couldn’t handly the 10% fee, so the next time, I went to my bank with my rolled up cash.

    Much to my surprise, the teller didn’t laugh at me or even roll her eyes when I presented her with $10 worth of quarters. She promptly counted them and posted the money in my account. I much prefer this method since I can CHOOSE to buy something from Amazon or not.

    • says

      Thanks Roberto. I think it’s worth it to roll up quarters for yourself but it takes the same amount of time to do each coin and the payout gets worse and worse. I’d like to think that my time is more valuable than rolling up 100 pennies for just a dollar haha.

  2. Christian L. says

    Harry,
    I’m pretty content rolling my change and taking it to my credit union. I put it in my savings account. In the last two years, I’ve deposited more than $300 into savings. It’s something I’m most proud of!

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

      • Christian L. says

        Yeah, I love rolling coins. I know, it sounds nerdy. But I usually turn on a movie while I do it. And actually, it takes two rolls to make $1!

        Last time I rolled change, it took 30 minutes and I rolled $12.50. If I could make $25/hour doing something that easy, I would!

        -Christian L.

    • says

      Hmm maybe you need to read my article a bit more carefully. I would never recommend using a Coinstar machine to get cash out since like you mention, they charge a fee of nearly 10%. But you can exchange coins for gift cards for your favorite stores for no fee. So would you rather spend 30 minutes rolling up $50 worth of coins(btw what is the cost for the rolls, are those free?) or get $50 to Amazon, I’ll choose the latter.

      • says

        Personally, I relish when my jar is finally full enough to get some rolls. It’s almost as if I’m getting paid $50 for a half hours worth of work which is fantastic in my book, but it’s more along the sentimental lines of childhood memories with my dad. Rolling coins is also a great way to get into coin collecting.

        I think the cost of a variety pack of 100 are like $1.00 at Wal-Mart or very near that price/quantity. I also love going into my bank with a metal ammo box full of coin rolls when I do cash them in, I get crazy looks lol. I consider my rolls as a secondary liquid emergency fund in a way. $50 to Amazon is great, but an extra $50 in gas if you want to take a day trip to the beach is more to my liking and Amazon can’t buy me gas or a spur of the moment dinner date.

        I suppose there are just some things that I rather not rush in this fast paced world and I don’t like watching the commercials anyways :)

        To each his own!
        Jeremy recently posted…Mad At Myself…My Profile

        • says

          Sounds good to me, I used to collect the state quarters when I was younger and now I try to collect coins/bills from every country that I visit. I’d like to throw it all under a glass desk some day.

          As for the Amazon credit, you’re right. The items you can buy are much more limited when compared to cash but remember money is fungible :)

  3. says

    I guess we’re lucky that we have a local credit union that has a coin counting machine you use for free. You pour your money in , it makes a bunch of noise and eventually spits out a receipt, which you can then deposit or cash. I must look hilarious hauling en a small tin bucket full of coins when I go there.
    Jose recently posted…The Wise Dollars March 2013 Favorite Blog PostsMy Profile

    • says

      I never knew that credit unions would count your change for free. Seems like a pretty easy thing for them to do, I’m surprised more banks don’t offer it. Either way, thanks for the tip and who cares what you look like if you’re saving money?! :)

    • says

      I absolutely despise the penny haha. I actually make a point not to accept them when I get change, I just leave them on the counter as a form of silent protest. Why are we still using pennies? I can’t think of one good reason but I can think of many why we shouldn’t be.

  4. says

    Coins are far less of an annoyance here in Canada. The Royal Canadian Mint recently eliminated the penny, which is great because it cost more to mint than it’s face value.

    The 1/2 penny was eliminated from circulation when it had about as much buying power as the DIME today.

    Currently retailers round up or down using the “Swedish rounding” system.

    That said, 99.9% of retailers accept “interac” which is the dominant debt-card system in Canada. PIN access verification at all merchant terminals and NO credit card type risks like the American debit cards which are all run through a credit-card network.

    That said, there are only a few coin-star machines which few people use. I’ve NEVER seen anybody pouring coins into them.

    I just roll up mine myself once or twice a year, and it seldom adds up to more than $25 as nearly all my transactions are electronic.
    hungry hungry artist (@blerghhh) recently posted…Proof is in the PUTting.My Profile

    • says

      That’s true, whenever I travel abroad, coins are pretty handy because you have higher denominations that allow you to actually buy things. Here, all they’re good for is vending machines and parking meters.

      I like the idea of just getting rid of pennies and rounding up or down to the nearest 5 cents, that would make sense to me. I know more and more people are switching to electronic based forms of payment but I think there will always be a need for cash and coins.

  5. says

    Even ALL of the parking metres where I live take cards. They have “pay and display” machines every block or so. You swipe your card, tell it how much time you want, it makes an authorization and prints a ticket.

    As for the vending machines, new machines are starting to use the “visa paywave” or “mastercard paypass”.

    Canadian coinage includes $1 and $2 coins, so at least a pocket full of coins here has some buying power. A pocket full of US change however doesn’t amount to much any more.

    But, I’d still rather use my cash-back VISA for everything. It’s a huge “chunk of change” that I get back every year.
    hungry hungry artist (@blerghhh) recently posted…Proof is in the PUTting.My Profile

    • says

      Well, the best and easiest way I’ve found is to look for discounts on best buy gift cards. You can buy amazon kindle gc’s at best buy and use them for all your amazon.com purchases.

      I usually go on slickdeals once a day or so to stay on top of deals like this. A few months ago, BB offered a free $5 gift card with the purchase of a $50 gift card. I bought $600 worth and got $60 free :) Amex has now done 3 separate sync promotions where you get a $20 statement credit when you spend $200 at Best Buy. I have 5 Amex cards so I love deals like this!

    • says

      Yea I didn’t know about that until another reader mentioned that actually. Coinstar machines are pretty ubiquitous though for those of us who don’t have a CU membership.

    • says

      Yea I used to have some of those crappy Mr. Robot counting machines that never seemed to work haha. I abhor rolling change and I don’t have a local CU/bank that does it for free near me so Coinstar works great. I love Amazon so an Amazon gc is as good as cash to me.

  6. Kathy says

    Just browsing your archives and found this article. I can’t believe people don’t just take their loose coins to their bank or CU. My bank actually prefers loose coins instead of rolled ones. Most banks have coin counters that takes about 2 minutes to count all the change. Like Jose and The Warrior said above, it spits out a receipt and the teller either gives you currency or deposits that amount into your account. We do it about twice a year and we usually get a couple hundred $$ each time. A truly painless way to save. The hardest part is getting the coins out of my pink piggy bank!

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