If you are like many people, you have a change glass in your house that you toss change that you get back in cash transactions. And while 30% of Americans say they don’t buy cash in a typical week, coins are still accumulating, albeit more slowly than they used to be. Throwing loose change into a coin jar is an easy way to save money without feeling the pinch.
What do you do when those quarters, dimes, nickels and especially those awkward pennies add up? If you don’t want to carry around bags of change when you shop, your best tactics are:
- Make a coin deposit at your bank or credit union to boost your savings account, or …
- Convert it into cold hard money that you don’t have to spend in your favorite store.
This is where the Coinstar slot machine comes in.
What is a Coinstar coin counting machine?
A Coinstar Kiosk is a coin counting service where you toss all your change into the coin machine and sort it for you automatically. No sorting, wrapping or rolling of coins required.
The kiosks are an easy way to exchange your change for cash or an Egift card. You can also use your coins for a charitable donation.
Coinstar kiosks are often found in grocery stores, but sometimes in larger retail stores like Walmart, drug stores, and banks. Your best bet is your local grocery chain like Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter, Albertsons or Fred Meyer.
What is the Coinstar fee?
As with so many modern conveniences, the Coinstar kiosk charges a fee for the coin counting service. If you want to exchange your coins for cash, You pay a hefty 11.9% processing fee for the service.
That is, if you redeem $ 50 in coins, Coinstar will keep $ 5.95. That’s enough for a great designer coffee. Coinstar exchanges $ 100 worth of coins and keeps $ 11.90 – about that price, you can have an entire meal in a fast food restaurant.
Why the Coinstar Cash Coupon is not your best value
If you are in dire need of cash, it may be worth swallowing that 11.9% Coinstar fee to convert your coins into dollars that you can spend anywhere. But probably not.
The Coinstar Cash Coupon is probably one of the worst ways to trade your replacement coins. If your goal is not to get rid of money quickly – whatever the cost – think about your other options before hitting this button to select a Coinstar cash coupon.
You can trade in your collection of toasted coins to spend with no fees if you make smarter choices.
Avoid Coinstar fees by choosing an eGift card
You can use a Coinstar machine with no fees simply by selecting an eGift card when you cash out your coins. An eGift card is a paper receipt with a barcode printed on it. (If you’ve never used an e-gift card, these work just like a plastic gift card at the appropriate retailer, restaurant, or website.)
Many popular retailers offer this e-gift card option, but not all kiosks offer e-gift cards for all available retailers. You can check online in advance whether the kiosk you want to use offers the gift card you want. Available dealers include:
- AMC (films)
- Chili’s Grill & Bar
- Chuck E. Cheese
- Krispy Kreme
- Outback steakhouse
- Regal Entertainment Group
- Ruby Tuesday
- The home depot
The Options eGift card via Coinstar works with a variety of top clothing retailers:
- Old Navy
- Banana Republic
When you redeem your coins for vacation, you can exchange your change for an eGift card for Southwest Airlines or Hotels.com. You can also choose an eGift card for electronic purchases through iTunes or the Showtime streaming service. Players may prefer an eGift card for Steam, Razer Gold, or Roblox.
Finally, you can choose a Karma Koin eGift card, a prepaid digital gift card that can be redeemed online through select retailers. When you use your Karma Koin card, 1% of every purchase goes to charity.
Not every eGift card is available at every Coinstar kiosk. So you should review your choices before you start inserting these coins. Some eGift cards require a $ 10 deposit, while others only require $ 5 change.
It’s a good idea to spend your eGift card ASAP – or at least snap a picture of it with your phone so you’ll have the number ready when you’re ready to shop.
Avoid the Coinstar fee by requesting an Amazon gift card
Amazon offers two ways to spend your Coinstar redemption. You can request an Amazon eGift card and redeem it with the barcode just like you would any other gift card. Enter your eGift code into your Amazon account as soon as possible so you don’t lose the eGift card.
However, if you have dollar bills to deposit, you can add anywhere from $ 5 to $ 500 to your Amazon balance. The AmazonCash feature provides a secure way to shop through Amazon without using a credit card by depositing cash directly into your Amazon account. If you have a lot of singles to unload, this Coinstar service is a great additional feature for the coin sorting kiosk.
Donate your change to charity
If you’re more interested in emptying that piggy bank or changing jars than putting money in your pocket, consider donating your Coinstar deposit to charity. Not only are charitable donations free, but you can also deduct the money from your taxes as a charitable donation when you list your deductions. Some common options at the kiosks are the American Red Cross and the Humane Society.
Take the sting out of Coinstar’s fee with a free coupon
In very rare cases, Coinstar offers vouchers to receive a free cash voucher. We couldn’t find any such specials at the moment, but we’ve unlocked another little-known Coinstar benefit …
Select kiosks with holographic projectors display discount coupon ads right above your head as you redeem your coins. Select and print these coupons to save money on many common items – often items sold in the store where the kiosk is located.
Coinstar’s free coupon benefit is like a reward for standing there listening to endless coins drop into the machine, and it’s a great way to lower your grocery bill when shopping at a grocery store with a Coinstar kiosk .
Make your Coinstar deposit easy
Now that you know how to convert coins to cash for free at a Coinstar kiosk, we have a few tips to help you make the process smoother.
No need to make rolls of wrapped coins before depositing your change. But you need to make sure that your money is clean and that there is no residue stuck in the coins. This could block the coin counter or cause your change to be spat out.
In addition, Coinstar does not accept foreign coins, so you should remove them from your collection. But if a Canadian penny or a euro coin slips through, don’t worry. The device returns and you can pocket the change for your collection or your next trip.
Cash in your Rolled Coin deposit at your bank or credit union
Of course, Coinstar isn’t the only way to redeem those unwieldy coins for cash. Your local bank or credit union may have a coin sorter or coin counting machine that you can use to redeem your coins for free.
Notice something. Some credit unions have introduced Coinstar machines with their associated fees. If you use a coin sorter with your credit union, make sure it is a proprietary and free of charge machine.
How to get free coin packaging
Your bank or credit union may also accept rolled coin deposits. Some have fees, so ask before you spend your precious time rolling coins. To make a coin deposit, you’ll need to sort your coins yourself, roll them in coin wrappers, and likely write your name and bank account number on each roll.
Not all financial institutions offer free coin wrapping, but many still do – especially for their loyal customers. Visit a cashier at a bank where they’ll recognize you and ask for free coin wraps.
When it comes to redeeming your rolled coin, some banks only offer the service to account holders while others take rolled coins from anyone.
Carefully sorting and rolling changes takes time, but it was the only way to convert coins to cash in the past.
It’s also a great activity teaching kids about money and how nickels, dimes, and quarters (and even pennies) add up to dollars. You can give them all of the money, let them use the coins to open their own savings account, or share the money with them.
Discover other alternatives to the Coinstar fee
When it comes to getting rid of loose change and teaching kids money, there are other tactics you can try as well. The “coin discipline” method uses a quarter or penny coin pack to encourage children to behave in restaurants, stop fighting with siblings, or even do their chores.
Give the children a coin box full of change ($ 5 in cents or $ 10 in quarters will work fine depending on your budget). Every time they misbehave, you take a dime or a quarter away. Seeing the role shrink is a clear reminder to act.
At the end of the period, whether it’s a weekend, a week or a long family car trip, they can spend what they have left. The tactic helps teach children that their decisions have consequences, sometimes financial.
Whether you spend it or save it, the change can make a difference in your budget if you can find a clever way to convert your loose coins into a more convenient currency.
– by Dawn Allcot
How do you use your change? Have you found other ways to avoid the Coinstar fee? Share in the comments below.