Spare change can add up quickly. Whether you've been casually building a pile of change or deliberately stashing it in a piggy bank, cashing in those coins can free up some space and give you some extra spending money. Or, if you're in a pinch, those coins can buy you a meal or put gas in your car. But paying for something with a bag full of nickels and dimes is a pain, so how do you turn coins into more manageable cash?
Unless you cash in coins on a regular basis, you may not be familiar with the most convenient ways to trade coins for bills. Some methods may come with fees, but a few are free and will let you keep more of your money for yourself.
Try Your Local Bank
Your local bank or credit union may be the easiest and most convenient option for cashing in your coins, especially if you're already a customer. Depending on the number of coins you have, it may be worth opening an account for the convenience of depositing your coins. But before taking a sack of coins to your local branch, verify that it accepts coins. The branch-specific website may list whether the branch has a self-service coin-counting machine, which can save you and the teller some time.
If your bank doesn’t have a coin-counting machine, you can roll your coins at home using coin separators or an automated coin sorter. This strategy can save you some time at the bank and increase the odds of having your coins accepted and credited to your account quickly.
Check Convenience Stores
In response to slowed coin circulation in the economy, the Federal Reserve capped the number of coins banks can order. Because of this lower circulation, local convenience stores may be willing to accept your coins in exchange for paper bills.
Opt for Automatic Coin Counting
Automatic coin-counting machines, like Coinstar, are also an option. These kiosks are often conveniently located near the entrances of grocery stores; you can find one near you using Coinstar’s Find a Kiosk tool. Simply pour your coins into the kiosk and wait while the machine automatically does the work of counting.
However, the convenience may come at a cost. To receive the cash value of your coins, you may pay a service fee. Coinstar charges 11.9% for coin-to cash-conversions, although this fee may vary depending on the location. If you redeem $300 in coins, you'll pay $35.70 for the convenience and receive $264.30 in cash.
Coinstar does have free coin-redemption options, though. You can redeem your coins for an electronic gift card to one of several participating retailers and restaurants such as Sephora and Starbucks with no fee. Each retailer has a minimum and maximum gift card amount, with many starting at $5 or $10. Or if you're feeling generous, you can also use your coins to make a donation to one of Coinstar’s partner charities.
If you live in the Southeast U.S., your local Publix grocery store may also be an option for cashing in coins. Some locations have their own branded coin machines, which charge a 10% fee for coin-to-cash conversions. Publix's coin-cashing kiosks are slightly less expensive than Coinstar’s, but cashing in $300 of coins will still cost you $30.
How To Use Your Coins
Your options for using your coins depend on the method you choose to cash them in. If you're going to a bank, you can deposit the coins directly into your bank account, where you can use them to pay bills or bulk up your emergency fund.
At a kiosk, you can redeem for cash or a gift card to a retailer or restaurant where you already plan to make a purchase. Some kiosks also allow you to make a donation to select charitable organizations.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I change coins for free at my bank?
Banks and credit unions typically allow customers to change coins for free. If a local bank offers free coin changing, you may be able to open an account to take advantage of the service rather than paying fees to use an automated coin machine.
Do I have to roll coins for the bank?
Some banks require you to roll your coins before making a deposit, and some require it only if you want the cash deposited into your account the same day. However, if you don’t have enough coins to fill a roll, you may be able to bring loose change. Depending on the bank, it may take several days for deposits of loose coins to post to your bank account. It’s a good idea to call your local bank branch and ask about any requirements for rolling coins.
Does Coinstar charge a fee?
Coinstar charges a fee of 11.9% if you opt to convert your coins to bills. You can avoid the fee by cashing in your coins for a gift card to participating retailers or restaurants, or by donating your coins to one of its charity partners, such as the American Red Cross or the Humane Society.