At my part-time job I work in the accounting office and get quite a few Coinstar receipts that show the depositor gave up 9% of their coins to get them changed into bills. I would say that on average in a day that machine makes between $30-$50 and then there are the days when people dump in 100-300 dollars for a single receipt.

It just breaks my heart to see people give up even a penny when there are other options they could be using and still keeping their money - some of which is enough for a cheap lunch of even making a minimum payment on a credit card bill.

I remember one morning a guy asked me if I wanted to buy some rolls of coins and I declined (he had about $300 worth, it looked), but I did mentioned that the bank would be opening in less than an hour if he wanted to wait, but he declined. The end result was that the machine got almost $30 in fees.

When I was growing up it was no big deal to bring in your coins to the bank, they would either dump it in a coin counter (bigger banks) or pull out a wooden coin counting tray. There were no fees and it was no big deal, except for the occasional sigh I would hear if I had a larger amount of coins.

Many Coinstar machines do offer an option to keep ALL of the money you deposit as long as you pick one of the gift card options they offer. However, the machine at my store only gives you two options, a 9.5% fee or give all money to charity. The charity option isn't bad but if that wasn't the initial reason to go in, the fee would be your only option.

An alternative I noticed was that my local credit union installed coin counters into their branches and these counters don't have a fee, which is very kind of them and my credit union also allows people who don't have an account with them to use the machine for no charge.

From what I have found out most banks will count money for no charge, however some have conditions- you have to have an account or there is a maximum limit - so please check with your bank or the bank in your neighborhood.

A final suggestion is to use your coins to pay for merchandise, if a store won't take your rolled coins you can also use the self-check out areas and plunk the coins in one by one, it may take a while but you are using the money for something you need. If you do go to the cashier and have loose change that is not rolled, it would be best to not go during rush-hours.

To summarize the free coin counting options:
* Double check your options if you use a coinstar machine
* Contact your local bank for free exchanges and possible conditions
* Pay for your merchandise with coins- use self checkouts or go outside of rush hour

UPDATES: Occasionally coinstar will offer a holiday bonus toward the end of the year for a limited time, whereby you can get an extras 10-25% of your total towards a gift card.

Before you go and turn in your coins, check them for any rare and valuable ones

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  1. Anonymous // Wednesday, March 11, 2009 11:06:00 AM  

    Another caution on using Coinstar is that even though it may appear that you can do the gift card option, if the machine for whatever reason can't generate the gift card it will just spit out the cash voucher with the fee deducted. This happened to me a few years ago when trying to redeem for an Amazon gift certificate. I will never use a Coinstar machine again after that incident.

    Definitely check with your local bank for their coin acceptance policies, as they do vary. Some banks will accept pre-rolled coins, some have coin counters in-branch, and some will require that all coins be sent for counting at their operations center to verify the amount before crediting to your account. Don't start rolling coins before you verify these policies, because you may find it is just wasted time and effort.

  2. Dawn // Wednesday, March 11, 2009 2:56:00 PM  

    Thank you for this caution - good to hear from someone who has experienced this - I can understand why that experience would turn you off, it certainly would be a turn off for me.

  3. Anonymous // Wednesday, March 11, 2009 3:59:00 PM  

    Don't know how up-to-date this site is but you can click on your state and it shows locations for free coin counting:

  4. Dawn // Wednesday, March 11, 2009 4:09:00 PM  

    Ewww,sweet - thank you! I stumbled on that site many moons ago, I will get it updated to my post.

  5. Anonymous // Wednesday, March 11, 2009 4:30:00 PM  

    I've had the same experience, and now only use our local credit union. Thankfully, my wife is a member, and they don't charge you any fees as long as you don't put in more than $100 a day. A few months ago, we had saved up so much that we had to go in three times to cash it all, but it was worth not having to pay out almost $30 in fees.

  6. Roger, the Amateur Financier // Monday, March 16, 2009 9:10:00 PM  

    Not bad tips; 9% is way too much to pay for coin counting, especially when there are so many other options. Personally, I just try to use my change when I make purchases as much as possible; although, as I also try to use my credit card as much as possible (for the rewards), it makes it hard to really use up my coins.

  7. Jacob // Monday, January 03, 2011 6:39:00 PM  

    i have so many coins at home.

    coin counting machine can be a good solution for me. but the problem is i keep getting more and more coins since i don't really like to bring coins while i go to shop.

  8. Anonymous // Saturday, February 19, 2011 7:59:00 AM  

    I'm overseas, so I don't know what my options are for turning in coins. I have a lot of local (Japanese ) currency and US coins that I would love to get counted though :)

  9. Harriett Faulks // Tuesday, October 23, 2012 7:27:00 AM  

    It’s definitely a good idea to turn those coins in at your local bank. Coins can get pretty bulky and hard to bring around, and their clutter can take up table space at home. Turning them in, or at least getting them counted and sorted, would save you a lot of trouble and a lot of space. You’d also know just how much to bring when you’re out and need to commute because coins are always easier to spend when commuting than with bills.