CoinStar is a Rip-Off

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Last updated on August 26, 2022 Comments: 174

If you shop at a grocery store or places like Walmart, you’ve likely seen the name Coinstar. These big, green, coin-counting machines promise to turn your water-bottle-full-of-pennies into cold, hard cash–all without the hassle of paper rolls and endless counting. But is the convenience worthwhile, when you take the added expense into account?

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Why Use CoinStar?

I distinctly recall helping my parents count out their giant blue water jug full of coins as a child. We had been saving for years and were finally going to use that money on something fun. But first, we needed to count it all out and cash it in at the bank.

My dad brought home a bag full of paper coin wrappers, and we kids set to work. Pennies in stacks of ten, teetering piles of dimes… it was tedious work. But when we were done, my dad loaded the wrapped coins into a box, ran up to the bank, and came back with crisp $20 bills that we then used for a night out at Malibu Grand Prix.

While I have zero interest in hand-rolling hundreds of coins today, the cost involved with using a CoinStar machine has been enough to deter me thus far. After all, do I really want to give up a significant chunk of my money just to have an automated machine count it out? Considering that CoinStar’s fee has crept up over the years–from 9.8% to a shocking 11.9% today–it’s not an insignificant expense.

Why I’m Hesitant

For a whopping 12% of your money, you can bring your coins, have them counted, and receive a voucher to retrieve cash from a cashier or just help pay for your groceries. For most people, this is too high of a fee to warrant the exchange.

If a typical shopper brings in a jar of coins, the total might be $50. They’ll lose $6 in the exchange. A large jar might contain $100. Would you really pay a machine $12 to count your coins–something you could do yourself for free?

Many of these coin-sorting machines are prone to error, too. While you may luck out and get a machine that counts every penny you dump in, you could also get short-changed. And for some people, this could mean as much as 18% of their money goes missing! Add a fee on top of this and it’s just a losing proposition.

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Saving Some Change

Luckily, CoinStar has gotten a bit better over the years, offering customers additional options for their converted change and even easing the fee. Depending on what you plan to do with that jug’o’change, these options could make the machines a much more reasonable choice for you.

CoinStar is now partnering with retailers such as Amazon.com and Starbucks. Customers will be able to forgo the 12% fee in exchange for receiving their cash value in gift cards. These partnering retailers agree to pay the fee on behalf of the customers.

Here’s a list of the retailers that have partnered with Coinstar (including the minimum and maximum amounts for gift cards):

  • AMC $10 – $100
  • Amazon: $5 – $1,000
  • Applebee’s Grill and Bar: $5 – $500
  • Burlington: $10 – $250
  • Cabela’s: $5 – $500
  • Chili’s Grill & Bar: $5 – $100
  • Chuck E. Cheese: $5 – $250
  • Domino’s: $10 – $100
  • GameStop: $5 – $500
  • Gap: $10 – $500
  • com: $10 – $500
  • IHOP: $5 – $200
  • Karma Koin: $10 – $500
  • Krispy Kreme: $5 – $200
  • Lowe’s: $5 – $1,000
  • Nike: $5 – $500
  • Outback: $10 – $500
  • ROBLOX: $5 – $500
  • Razer Gold: $10 – $100
  • Red Robin: $5 – $150
  • Regal Entertainment: $5 – $100
  • Ruby Tuesday: $5 – $200
  • Showtime: $25 – $200
  • Sephora: $10 – $500
  • Southwest: $25 – $500
  • Starbucks: $5 – $500
  • Steam: $10 – $100
  • The Home Depot: $5 – $2,000
  • iTunes: $5 – $500

If you planned to use the cash to put toward your student loan payment or other bills, a gift card won’t do you much good. However, if you regularly shop with any number of retailers, this is an excellent way to add some flexibility to your budget and also save yourself 12% in fees at the same time.

Alternate Options

There are a few ways that you can convert your coin collection into cash for free. It’ll just take a bit of extra work.

Try Your Local Bank

Your first option is to do what my dad did: get the whole family involved and start rolling coins! It may take some time, but it’s also a fun bonding experience, especially if the money-saving effort involves everyone. Most banks will even give you free paper coin wrappers if you ask. Once your coins are rolled, take them to your local bank. They’ll exchange them for cash for you, without charge.

Piggyback on a Saving Account for a Deposit

Your second option is to open a savings account in a bank, like CIT Bank. Some banks even offer coin-counting machines for their customers to use. They may charge a small fee or the machines may be free. I’ve also seen where the machines are free to use if you have a modest number of coins (maybe a couple hundred dollars), but they’ll charge those who come in with an excessive quantity. Even if your bank charges a fee for the machine, though, it’s probably less than the 12% being charged by CoinStar. And this option allows you to save that change, which can really add up!

Piggyback on an Online Bank Account for a Deposit

Wish to leave coins as e-cash rather than limiting yourself to specific gift cards? You should check out the third option: Open one of the available online checking accounts at Axos Bank, where you can choose according to your needs, from a basic Essential Checking™ to a more advanced Rewards Checking™ account. If the coins belong to your kids, there is also a First Checking™ account, a dedicated teenager (age 13+) checking account. After opening the account, you can deposit the coins via a local vendor. Axos Bank is collaborating with various nationwide vendors like ACE Cash Express, CVS/Pharmacy, Dollar General, Kmart, Rite Aid, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, and more. Shop around and find the vendors who won’t charge you a deposit fee. In order to make a cash deposit into your account, you must do so with an Axos Bank debit card.

Forgo Cash and Switch to Micro Saving

The fourth and final option is to forgo cash all together and use a micro savings app, like Chime. This app allows you to round up every purchase to the nearest dollar and transfers the “change” (the difference between the rounded cost and the real cost) into a savings account. This means every time you make a purchase, you are putting money into your savings.

And if you ditch cash in favor of cards, check out the Empower app. It allows you to track all your expenses and it even helps you figure out where you can save money. This is likely to save you more money than searching the couch cushions for spare change.

Is CoinStar Worth It?

There is a time and a place for everything. Using a CoinStar machine to count and convert your saved coins is no different, and there are times when it isn’t such a terrible option.

If you have a lot of coins saved up and can’t (or simply won’t) spend the time counting and rolling them, a machine might be the way to go. This is especially true if you don’t have a local bank or want the convenience of cashing in at the same place you shop for groceries.

If you spend money regularly at any number of retailers–including Amazon–CoinStar might be a great choice for you. After all, you can opt for a gift card in lieu of cash, and avoid the high conversion fee for doing so. In this case, go ahead and bring those pennies with you the next time you head to the store!

CoinStar gets a bad rap for being a pricey machine to use, but let’s be real: companies deserve to be able to offer a service and charge a fee for doing so. CoinStar’s business is successful in spite of its fee, which has crept up over the past few years. Obviously people–those who are aware they are paying a fee–are willing to pay it and find the service worthwhile.

However, what I propose is considering the less expensive options first, whether measured by time or money, in order to get the same results. If you’ve already looked into the options and have decided an 11.9% fee makes sense for you, then CoinStar is ready and waiting at any one of their 20,000 locations nationwide.

Article comments

174 comments
Richard says:

I wonder if the Federal Reserve is paying CoinStar for the coins. It seems to me that the banks have abused the consumers with all the fees that are in place. I suspect some lobbyists developed this whole situation In order for a company (CoinStar) to be in place to relieve the coins(at consumers expense) turn them over to the Feds (at taxpayers expense) and the banks are very happy. I’m not against a private company making a profit I just think it might be interesting to know who owns Coinstar and just how this whole scenario evolved. Does it pass the smell test?

Kurt says:

Any coin collectors here? Coinstar is probably making a killing collecting all of those silver coins left in circulation. Think of all the rare coins still out there. Do you guys think they “might” have a way to sort those coins a second time to pull out the silver? Maybe they have a machine that looks at the date on coins. They could be scanning them through any number of machines for each denomination. It’s not high-tech. I’m sure if they employ this process the company has made money hand over fist compared to the cost of placing their machines. I always check my coins before using them. You never know when you might have a quarters that’s automatically with 3.50 because it’s .9 silver.

Pat says:

I brought my own coin counter jar and count every penny, dime, nickle, and quaters and I only paid $2.00 for it and you can take out what you need out of it and also you can subtract what you take out of it and you can also add on it if you wan to put paper money into it loving it.

Joe Anderssen says:

I have used Coinstar many times and always got exactly what I expected minus the service fee. Its all a question of preference and time. I go deposit at a Coinstar kiosk about once every 12-18 month and usually bring a big bucket of coins – a mixture of pennies, dimes, pickles and quarters….sometime as much as $400+. I gladly pay 10% to them – significantly cheaper than trying to roll hundreds of dollars in different types of coins. My time is significantly more valuable than 10% service fee.

Tom Chandler says:

I have used Coinstar only two times in the past several years. I have a large collection jar with a $counter and whne it is full it generally shows $140 – 150.. The first time Coinstar returned about $15 less than what my counter showed.. I just accepted is as perhaps my error.
Recently i took my jar of coins carefully counted to about $145 and was shorted almost $20. I complained and they send me a gift card code for the missing amount to use on my Amazon account>
My guess,, they are ripping off alot of people who wont challenge the big green machine

Scott Galiszewski says:

I would be more then happy to purchase some of the chains you guys have for face value.

Jack brown says:

I lost 19% on my and only time i used coinstar. Roughly twenty cens on every dollar.

Marlene says:

Walmart has told me about three times in the last two months that the United States is having a coin shortage and they need exact change. They even have a sign at the register. Just yesterday the cashier said it again (8/8/20). Do they expect you to walk off without your change? One cashier kind of indicated that. It seems to me that if they want to sell their merchandise, they would make sure that they have change and not leave it to their customers to deal with.

Flint Danner says:

i mean it is a ripoff i have been saving coins for years put them in a coinstar I ONLY GOT 60 BUCKS

Mary Sarte says:

Same here. I know I counted $80 but got back only $60!!!!?

JayBee1 says:

Whaaat

JayBee1 says:

Seriously people??

Every single one of you lazy morons deserves to be ripped off by Coinstar, Walmart, the IRS, your bank, your spouse and your children. If you can’t be bothered to roll your own change or when you do and your bank charges you to deposit rolled change and you sit there and let them drill you up your backside without protest then you definitely 100% without a doubt deserve to be taken for a ride.

The old adage goes: “A fool and his money are soon parted.” And you lot fit this very well…

James Van Scoyoc says:

Why should have to do either? If we had usable high denomination coins in this country like they do everywhere else; and if we completely overhauled currency and coinage, again like everywhere else in the industrialized world, then we wouldn’t *need* to “convert” coins t5i cash. Coins are supposed to be usable cash in and of themselves, but that hasn’t been true for over forty years in this country. How could it be otherwise? All the coins we have were designed around the time of the Civil War or earlier well before the inflation of the 20th Century. This inflation was a worldwide phenomenon of course, but again, in the rest of the world they revamped their coins to reflect current prices. By contrast, we can’t seem to move past this situation for reasons I don’t understand. Are we trying to pretend that dimes and quarters are still made of silver, and hence they are significant denominations of money. Time was when you could ride the subway for a nickel. Go and see how many nickels you would need to do that now.

It’s beyondmd infuriating.

Jaybee says:

Seriously people??

Every single one of you lazy morons deserves to be ripped off by Coinstar, Walmart, the IRS, your bank, your spouse and your children. If you can’t be bothered to roll your own change or when you do and your bank charges you to deposit rolled change and you sit there and let them drill you up your backside without protest then you definitely 100% without a doubt deserve to be taken for a ride.

The old adage goes: “A fool and his money are soon parted.” And you lot fit this very well…

Graeme Ware says:

Total rip-off! Not only did the machine short-change me, but it spat out a ticket only redeemable at Nike when I asked for Amazon. When I tried to call them, they tell me the machine cannot make a mistake and that I have to mail it to some address (presumably registered otherwise it will never be received), even though they have all the details now. The machine number, the date, the amount, etc. Totally possible for them to change but why should they when they can make it difficult to change (I have to waste time and money sending it off registered and may or may not ever see anything again). BEWARE!!!!

Link Fonda says:

Where do the coins go after they are gathered by counstar? The banks? Federal reserve? Where?

Jet Rep says:

Coinstar has gift cards alright, but for businesses that are not in your area. I thought an Amazon gift cards would be an OK alternative to being ripped off for 12%. Wrong, the Coinstar machine at Walmart doesn’t OFFER Amazon gift cards. Oh Goody, they do give SouthWest Airlines. No one is flying during the Pandemic! No HomeDepot. Applebees closed local store, Movie Theaters are down, etc, etc. Took my 12% cut and left! I’ll wait for my bank to reopen (if ever…) Wear your masks people!!

Karen says:

If you go to Walmart to buy a Amazon Gift Card…they don’t sell them….competition!! So, not in CoinStar!! LOL
Food Lion, Harris Teeter, Lowe’s Food…

Misty says:

I tried to talk a jar of coins to my Wells Fargo and was told I had to roll them first, but the last time I took rolled coins in they said they had to be unrolled. My Wells Fargo didn’t even have a coin machine. This coin issue is getting ridiculous.

waitress says:

As my name suggests, I am a waitress. I was ripped off by a coinstar machine once & vowed to never use them again. I’ll gladly take my tip in coin, where I use them at my local dollar store. They are more than happy to take them off my hands. Saves them a trip to the bank. Then, because my coin money is my “rainy day” money, I set aside the same value I’ve spent in paper money & we’re all happy.

Robert J Johns says:

should of said no and kept the coins. The U.S. is in coin shortage right now, other retailers such as fast food, and gas stations would buy the coins. If you have time for the managers to check them, if not leave your address and phone number. My whopping $300 is going to a friends white castle, all rolled with brown wrappers!

William Beason says:

My sister just got charged $154 for turning in her coins at the bank, all the coins were in coin wrappers and the bank said that because the coin wrappers were paper wrappers that they ( the bank ) had to charge 25 cent a roll to the consumer. 25 cents, are you kidding me, so for every 50 roll of pennys the bank takes half? That can’t be right, can it. And that if that’s the case where can you buy the clear coin wrappers like the bank uses?

Mary Dawson says:

Although cornstarch is a bit pricey it just a matter of if you want to lose your extra money or just roll it your self

Roger Jones says:

My solution was to buy a manual coin counter and deposit coins in it at the end of each day. I roll the coins whenever a particular tube fills up, instead of waiting a long period of time to do so.

Masked Marvyl says:

It is now 12.5% plus a fee.
Forget it.

Paul Cox says:

I got ripped off by Coinstar in Oregon. It took several months of calls trying to get my refund. Finally they told me I was wrong. Then, after I mentioned getting the courts involved they said the audit did not support my claim. But we will send you half the amount. Coinstar is a disreputable Company taking advantage of people for profit. Ripping off the poor at 11cents on the dollar. I don’t get how Amazon and Walmart can partner with dishonest company.

Rick Foster says:

I just took a jar in with a change counter, to wal-mart coin star in Camby. I had 154.91, and like I said, have used this to save loose change for the kids, never had a problem until today.
It gave me 89.00, ripping me off sixty some dollars, then had to pay the 8.00 charge on top of it!! Pissed!!!

Michael Stewart says:

I simply go to a self-checkout lane at a walmart that is open until midnight. Ring up a 5.00 item and dump all my change into the machine up to 4.00 and then press cancel transaction. I do this until I have no more change left. Then I put the item back and get a bottle of soda and walk out. Walmart might not like this but it is not like they are going to arrest me for it. As long as I do not walk out with something that I did not buy I am fine. I am likely doing them a favor because now they do not have to fill the machine with small change. Then I would go to the closest bank of America atm and deposit my cash. When I get home i transfer the cash from my bank of America account to my allybank account. Then when I go on a Trip overseas to China I transfer the cash from Ally bank to my Bank of China account. When I have 9000USD in my bank of China account I buy land in Russia with it.

Annie Clisbee says:

?

Jaxon N says:

Some coin stars have a lower tax rate and some are even free
plus who wants coins when you can have cash

Karen H. says:

Wow! I just had a terrible experience with CoinStar. Lemme tell you about it. Essentially, they ripped me off $36. I went to the machine and selected Home Depot e gift card. Put in my coins. Totaled $311.97. Next screen made me choose between 2 options, neither of which said “Home Depot e gift card” so I was unsure what to choose. I hit one, it took me to the next screen showing a cash voucher for my $311.97 MINUS $35.98 Processing Fee. This is NOT what I wanted. On the right bottom screen there was a button to “Confirm” which I DID NOT push. On the bottom left was a button called “Back” which I pushed. Nothing happened. Pushed again. Waited. Pushed again. Nothing. I thought, well as long as I don’t select “Confirm” it will cancel and take me back to the selection screen. NOPE. It went ahead with the cash voucher option and STOLE my $35.98. I immediately called Customer Service and after 15 mins first talking to the rep, then “manager” Emmanuel, employee #15 got nowhere. I am infuriated and feel I was ripped off by the confusing interface and useless “Back” button. I did not confirm this fraudulent transaction.

MaskedMarvyl says:

You need to sue them.
What option did you hit that charged you a $35 fee??

Cecil says:

Hiring a lawyer to win a case for 36 dollars is a bit silly

Reebo says:

That is the fee for taking cash at about 12%.

Thomas Strome says:

11.9% exceeds an already greedy Washington (in our case) State Sales Tax and is to me, only worth counting the money by hand unless you do this all the time. The margin on coin counting is thin, but the upward percentage creep is beyond the pale. If Coin star has to pay for machine placement with Supermarkets, that makes it just that much harder to succeed.

Jack says:

Coinstar is just another company trying to get a piece of the working man’s dollar its unreal why retailers use such tactics as if our dollars come freely it all a bunch of crap!! a huge RIP OFF plain and simple….pennies add up try doubling a penny every day for 30 days…over 5 million dollars!!

CHRIS SPANGL says:

i went to a maxi store in lachine, quebec
i had a maon jar of quarters which i am pretty darned sure was $400 cdn
the first time i plunked some in the rate was 10.9
i went today to drain the jar and it was 11.9
wtf
and when i added up the first time at 1-.9 and second time at 11.9
i still only came home with 313 dollars
instead of 352 even at the higher rate
i plan to go to the same store tomorrow and have a perfectly counted amount of coins
and i will deposit it in the machine
giving coinstar the benefit of the doubt that i miscalculated my original jar value,
i will deposit counted money in the machine
if it does not deliver the exact result , then i will have a store attendent count and witness a second deposit into the coinstar machine
if the results vary
and if, as i previously noted, the fee is not 11.9% but actually closer to 20% as per my example
then it will get inteesting
and the question goes out…..
how can any company change their service charge by a full 1% within three days

somebody is on a beach and it ain’t me

Pao says:

You can just go to self checkout at the grocery store and pay with your coins. I’m always running in and out getting milk and stuff so I just use my points I have for like a gallon of milk

Witter says:

Also if you inadvertently put in under one dollar in coin they will keep it!! Yes there is a minimum to process your coin count. The kiosk does not say sorry you do not have enough coins and then give them back. It just processes the transaction and gives you a slip saying “no cash value”. Then when you call customer service they will NOT give you a refund. So you must know how much is in that little piggy bank of yours before you pour in the coins. So, If you are desperate for gas money to get to work you are out of luck.

Vern T says:

I myself roll the quarters and dimes. And take the nickels and pennies to coinsrar. But I go thru all of it before I cash it in. There are so many coins in simple pocket change that is worth alot of money. A large number dated 1982 penny is worth $50 + every coin that has a mint defect is worth much more than face value.
With all the people today that don’t know the true value of coins. I’m sure coinstar is rolling in dough. When someone dies in the family they just grab the box of coins they find and rush to the coinstar . Too dumb to realize what they have is worth thousands of dollars . With kids sneaking into their parents collection and cashing in at the machine .

Pamela McNeill says:

But who will buy any coins that you think are valuable?

Marlene says:

A coin collector or a coin store where you can sell the coins to them. They will not give you full value though. I’ve collected coins since I was about 12 years old with my father. But you need to buy a coin book so you know the rarity, condition, and the value of the coin before you go in. The coin store is out to make a profit too.

Sean says:

A 1982 Lg Date Copper in BU-63Red (Brilliant Uncirculated) is only worth about 35 cents. The Sm Date is actually worth slightly more at about 50 cents. Again these values are for near perfect uncirculated cents. Any 1982 cent that has been circulated Lg/Sm date, Copper or Zinc is worth exactly 1 cent. These values come directly from the 2021 Red Book. FYI there are hundreds of thousands of 1982 BU-63, MS-65 or better cents available for sale across the country. There are no US cents worth more than $5 in uncirculated condition after 1931

Trudy Grofcsik says:

On August 3, 2019 I put almost $60. Worth of coins in a coin star. It gave me $6.47. I made an incident report but they have denied it. I had these all wrapped up in bank paper rolls so I know how much there was when I unwrapped them. I collected quarters back when they minted quarters with the 50 states symbols like everyone else did. So I know how many there was. Coin star does not come out immediately when there is an incident to collect and count the change to see if there is a mistake. The coins are not rejected and ejected in the chute below as the sign states. It is a rip off. Maybe for a handful of change it might work. But nothing like the bank coin machines from years ago. Where is the oversight for coin star business practices. They aren’t even require to have camera to check if a report is made. You just have a phone number for making reports.

Jen says:

Yes, I just went in today knowing I had dollar coins and the machine didn’t record the dollar coins at all so it makes me wonder how accurate their counts are on the other coins! I called and they were totally unhelpful. I won’t use them again.

Janelle Walton says:

Does coinstar cash in North Korean coins?

Kasey says:

No. It states on the machine that foreign coins are not accepted. (However, if they have KJU’s face on them, you might send them to DJT to cherish, keep under his pillow…whatever, and you might get back a MAGA hat to cherish and keep under your pillow…who knows 🙂

Segregation Joe says:

Thanks for the tip, retard.

Jennifer Gonzalez says:

I went to cash some coins today because I needed money today. And the machine stopped counting at 9.99 and I called them and told them my problem and they said it would take up to 3 weeks to get my money counted and everything. Never in my life using coin start again.

Michael Wright says:

I counted my coins at home before I dumped them into the machine at Walmart. My count: 82 quarters, 129 dimes, 178 nickels, and 264 pennies. The machines count 23 quarters, 34 dimes, 45 nickels, and 189 pennies. I should have walked away with nearly $39 but instead got just over $17. I complained to the Walmart customer service but they said that they do not own the coin machines. Trying to contact Coinstar is nearly imposable. Never using them again.

jack says:

oh man! i believe it…unreal how our money don’t count yet retailers and rip off machines are allowed to continue coning people!!

Gary says:

You should have replied that since it wasn’t Walmart’s machine, you assume they have no objection to you returning with a sledge hammer and pry bar to retrieve your money.

Renee Lai says:

FRAUD ALERT: Coinstar stole $150.08 from me by giving my Lowes gift card to someone else to use on the exact date I put all of my coins into their machine. I will file a police report

Justin Firsch says:

Not that a lot of people will believe this without seeing it, but Coinstar (as well as Brinks and other huge commercial coinage handling operations) throw LOTS of change right in the trash !, Yes, the trash !… I’m a full time professional dumpster diver and have been for over 30 years, $70k+/annually worth of dumpster merch worth !, and one of the spots ill frequently stop by at night and check is this local coinstar branch which is in a local industrial park a few towns away, its the warehouse where the machines are serviced, dispatched out of, etc, and in this building is where the coinstar employees bring back all the change from various machines, count, and roll it in commercial shrink-wrapped plastic wrappers, Well, usually when we show up to look in the dumpster, there is frequently change right there on the ground, no huge amounts, but enough that its apparent that people know its there and cant be bothered picking it up, sometimes a buck sometimes up to a few bucks worth on the ground, and then when you open the side of the dumpster, you typically see stacks of trash bags tied shut, when ripped open, the majority of trash inside consists of old, used coin rolls, cash bands and a handful of regular trash from employees, BUT you also can usually hear the jingling of coins in the bottom corners of these bags from the coins that have fallen through the maze of trash and settled on the bottom corners, I’ll typically isolate them all into one corner, rip that corner off the bag and get them out, then dump the entire bag into an area in the dumpster where i can see what im doing, and fish through the remainder of the trash and grab whatever other coins i can see… coinstar also doesn’t want anything thats not US currency, so any foreign coins, tokens, etc, that go in, get chucked, if the machine doesnt manually return them to you beforehand, and sometimes this will consist of a container in the building that they throw all the “miscellaneous” into, and then when full, it goes in the dumpster, even though a lot of it is still useful in various other places, or even worse case scenario, is worth brass (or other metals) scrap price at local yards. I left there one night with close to a full coffee can worth of pennies that were all over the ground, although typically the stuff on the ground isnt that plentiful, it has happened. I bet overall in the last 15 years since I discovered and began hitting this location, ive had to have gotten atleast a grand worth of change from this dumpster, easy ! As well as other goodies, such as earrings, broken gold jewelry and small items that ended up in peoples change jars and then ended up stuck inside the machines..

Paul says:

I used a Coinstar machine this weekend. It has a malicious user interface. I had walked up to the machine, selected an Amazon gift card (which is free) and dumped in just under $100 in coins. It then asked again if I want a gift card or a cash voucher (with its 11.9% fee). God help you if you accidentally select the cash option because there’s no way to correct your choice. I incorrectly hit the cash button. I’m then presented with the Terms and Conditions with an Accept button. There’s no way to refuse the terms. There’s no way to go back. After about 5 minutes the screen timed out and out spewed a cash voucher for $11.63 less than the coins I put in. I called Coinstar customer service and they said a voucher for the fee would be emailed to me, but that was 3 days ago and it hasn’t happened yet.

Anonymous says:

I walked to the bank the other day with my rolls of coins, but they wouldn’t take them. What? They’ll only take coins rolled by the Federal Reserve, not hand-rolled. They said the branch across town has a coin-counter I could use for free, but of course I didn’t want to walk home to get my car then drive to the other branch for $30 in coins. So I stopped by the grocery, bought a few things and asked if they took rolled coins. Nope, but I could use the Coinstar machine. No, I’m too cheap for that, and it’s the principle of the thing: it’s cash and I want to to spend it / deposit it just like dollar bills. So then I walked over to the Hallmark store, bought a few Christmas clearance items (again, I’m cheap) and unrolled $8 worth of quarters. I asked first if it was okay to pay in coins. So as suggested below, I’ll be separating out my quarters. Some will go in my car for trips to the do-it-yourself carwash (cheap). Others will stay in the camper for laundromats, vending machines. Still others I’ll keep in my coat pocket for small purchases, Salvation Army red buckets, panhandlers. The rest I’ll take to the bank’s coin-counter when I get around to it. Then maybe I’ll contact my elected officials and urge them to get rid of pennies, and subsequently round all transactions to the nearest 5 cents. Sure this might cause an issue with sales tax, but I’m okay with that… my state doesn’t have sales tax!

John says:

None of the comments I saw here acknowledge that the root of the problem is that the coins themselves are useless. Pennies and nickels shouldn’t even exist, and dimes will fall into that category very soon. Quarters and dollar coins are the only functional coinage we have. But I don’t give my quarters to Coinstar. I use them for laundry. Some people use vending machines. Worst case, they’re still more more worthwhile to roll for banking or tender for payment than pennies, nickels, and dimes.

Essentially, the service that Coinstar provides is turning useless garbage back into money. A service that shouldn’t even be necessary because we shouldn’t be conducting such obnoxiously precise transactions to begin with.

(I’m here because, although I’ve used Coinstar successfully a half-dozen times in the past, Coinstar finally seems to have given me an invalid gift card in exchange for my hard-earned garbage.)

G3Ken says:

John on 1/6/2019 stated that coins are worthless and shouldnt even be used. He singled out nickels and pennies, in particular. He was wrong on both counts.

First of all, US currency continues to LOSE value every single day it sits in your pocket, and often even in your interest-bearing savings account due to inflation. A coin is valuable because it’s made of something of value -metal.

Dimes and up are still not worth their face value, but nickels (the value is close and it fluctuates) are often worth MORE than 5 cents. Pennies made before 1982 are worth over TWICE their value in copper alone, and that’s why the government switched to zinc.

Any coin from a dime up made in 1964 or earlier is 90% silver. You can sell $1 worth of crap dimes for $14 today. Tell me again how coins are worthless.

I had a friend who GAVE me all the coins guys father had in jars. I told him they were worth A LOT, and he said he didn’t care. I got over $9,000 from those coins….and that almost paid my property tax bill for the year. Honest, but don’t get me started on taxing what you already own.

anonomous says:

If you do have dimes 1964 or earlier, who do you find that will take them and pay you that amount? Pennies as well? Where do you sell them to get their worth?

Edward Krajewski says:

Each $1.00 face value of 1964 or earlier silver coins (dimes, quarters, 1/2 $,$) contain .715 ounces of silver. The spot market for silver is trading approx $15/oz, that means for every $1 worth of coins there is about $10.75 worth of silver (.715 oz X $15) . That’s 10 dimes, or 4 quarters etc. in circulated junk condition. However if you have any nice or rare coins in there they are worth much more.
Sellers on eBay right now will sell you $1 worth or “junk silver coins” for $18-$20. Silver prices change daily but are easy to find. Be aware of that and don’t give your stash away.

James Van Scoyoc says:

If you sell junk silver coins to a coin shop or a retail precoous metals dealer they will take a huge discount.

James Van Scoyoc says:

Don’t be ridiculous. The melt value of silver in pre-1965 dimes and quarters has nothing, but nothing to do with the junk shrapnel we’re stuck with today.

James Van Scoyoc says:

That’s ridiculous. The melt value of pre-1965 silver coins, which have virtually vanished from circulation, has nothing whatsoever to do with what circulating coins are worth *today*.

Also, coin shops and retail precious metals dealers take a HUGE markdown if you sell your old coins to them.

Daniel says:

Coinstar is a fucking joke.

Anonomous says:

Coinstar sucks!

Brian says:

I did a test with Coinstar machine in my local supermarket. I brought in coins that I manually counted to be $51 and Coinstar told me that it was only $40. Looking more closely I noticed that Coinstar had seriously under-counted quarters, dimes and nickels. I will thus never be using this machine every again.

Jamie says:

As of several months ago, Coinstar does NOT offer any gift card options other than Amazon. I called Coinstar to ask, and didn’t get even a ballpark estimate as to if & when I might be able to get a Starbucks gift card with my coins, as I have done for YEARS. Very infuriating!

Orion says:

Why is Amazon now the only non-vig gift card option at every Coinstar machine in my area? Are there any machines which still offer Starbucks or Home Depot or eBay gift cards? It is time to update this article and start talking about yet another area where Amazon is killing competition and monopolizing the world. I value my time, but, I will not give any more of my money to Amazon than absolutely necessary. No sale, Coinstar.

Carmen says:

Coin star machines are a rip off..I had $64.95 in change in a plastic bag all I got back was $40.00..dont use these machines

Mia says:

I find its a choice of time vs. money. I can get more money but the hours I would have wasted counting the 6000+ coins I just recently put into one of a similar machine at the grocery store, I could never get back. The fees are bit high but that’s the cost of doing business roll in at the customers choice to use or not. Its a genius business Idea hence the company was savvy enough to makes millions.

Mitzie says:

I found my bank( one of largest) will accept coins, but charged fee. And wanted me to leave coins until they had time count them. With coin counting machine. And would deposit that amount later in my account. No thanks, worth it to use coin star machine

Anonymous says:

My time is worth far more than the 10% fee. I can make more money doing other things than rolling coin to make up for the money lost on the fee.
Saving $50 makes no sense when you could have earned $100 in that time.

Value your time properly!

Anonymous says:

So, who do you think is going to count your jar of change for free? I don’t want to count it myself, so I’m fine with paying someone to do it for me.

Anonymous says:

Coinstar charges a 9.8% fee now? That’s lower than what it used to be. That’s why they don’t TELL you the charge on the console, they just let you find out AFTER you put your money in that you’ve just been screwed… it should at least give you a cigarette.

Anonymous says:

Very hard to find banks that will take your coin unwrapped. My Mom worked in a bank for years. She said the machines were always breaking down and very expensive to fix. Sometimes people would leave nails, etc. in their jars, etc., but nails weren’t the only reason machines malfunctioned. Taking all that into account, it makes sense why the banks are getting rid of the machines altogether. And given the malfunctioning aspect, you have to wonder if the count is even correct. I wish our country would get rid of coin altogether

Anonymous says:

Coinstar prints their receipts on thermal paper, upon which the ink completely disappears over time. I was able to read only the date and time (to the second) that my receipt was printed, provided the location that we gave them our money and, shockingly, they were unable to verify that transaction. So, they now have our money and no motivation whatsoever to fix the problem. That part of their business is where the scam is.

Anonymous says:

I used coinstar today that offers cash to be loaded into a paypal account , like a deposit. I deposited 250.00 for my kid who is traveling tomorrow and did not want her to carry cash for safety reasons. after depositing all the money and linking it to my paypal account out spits a receipt that we could not deposit your money call customer service. So all 250.00 is inside your machine. Cust service answer is 7-10 days for a refund check to be sent. WTF ….. total scam. so how is my daughter supposed to have her money for tomorrow????? How many people do you do this to and hold their funds for 7-10 days nationwide and collect interest on ?????? Avoid CONStar/ Paypal at all cost, just get a gift card I guess is the lesson from VISA or AMEX ! !!

Anonymous says:

Same thing happened to me yesterday; I had $308 in cash/spending money and put it into a local machine for an Amazon gift card. Out pops a “refund” paper telling me to call customer service via the indicated phone number (which btw is old/incorrect – I had to search the updated one online). After calling the new number due to a transaction error, I was basically told that I would have to wait 7-10 business days for a check to come in the mail. This is a shocker to me as I have literally used the same machine for the past two years for getting Amazon gift cards with zero hiccups whatsoever. So as of writing, I have to wait upwards of two weeks now (maybe even a little more) for them to send me a check in the mail that I will then have to drive to the bank to cash in. WTF!!! NEVER will I use Coinstar again; don’t even know why I did when you can now apparently show a barcode or give your phone number to a cashier in most flagship stores and they will just automatically add the funds to your account. I even asked why customer service why they couldn’t just add the Amazon money to my account but they declined that offer of course.

Anonymous says:

Same thing happened to me yesterday; I had $308 in cash/spending money and put it into a local machine for an Amazon gift card. Out pops a “refund” paper telling me to call customer service via the indicated phone number due to a transaction error (which btw is old/incorrect – I had to search the updated one online). This is ironic because I have been using this same machine for Amazon gift cards for 2 years with pretty much zero hiccups. After calling the new number/giving the appropriate information, I was basically told that I would have to wait 7-10 business days for a check to come in the mail. So I have to wait upwards of 2 weeks (maybe even a little more) to receive a check in the mail and subsequently drive to the bank where I will then have to cash it there. Even asked if they could just add the funds to my Amazon account right then and there, but of course they declined. NEVER using Coinstar again after this, especially considering how you can apparently now add physical money in the form of gift card currency directly to your Amazon account (by providing your phone number/barcode to a cashier in most flagship stores). Coinstar is phasing out and I wouldn’t recommend anyone uses it for the chance of a highly frustrating incident like this to happen – you just can’t rely on a spotty machine that may or may not defeat the entire purpose of “saving time”. Oh well, another day another lesson.

Anonymous says:

I use coinstar occasionally – my time is worth more than the lousy 10% they charge – yes – I could do it myself, but can I count $50.oo worth or pennies in two minutes – They are making a living like the rest of us – it is a convenience – which we must pay for.

Anonymous says:

No, they are making a KILLING by hiding the price.
Look at the console, it does NOT tell you how much they keep; you only find out afterward, when it’s too late to get your money back!
That is FRAUD BY DECEPTION.

G3Ken says:

You can count $50 ( 5,000) pennies in two minutes? That’s 41.66 pennies per second. I don’t think so.

Rob Scholl says:

I believe he means the machine can count $50.00 worth of pennies in 2 minutes.

Anonymous says:

This person must not be aware of debit card and credit card fees and such. There are always costs associated with transactions, it’s just a matter of who pays the cost.

When i use coinstar, first i remove all quarters. I keep the quarters and use them on small transactions. Counting out 8 quarters is a lot less annoying than counting an entire bag of coins when trying to buy something with coins.

If you have a jar of coins, quarters can easily account for 60-80% or more of the monetary value of the coins in that jar. Once you remove the quarters, you reduce the fee you pay by that 60-80%, which makes it quite reasonable. If you wanted to take it even further, you could separate the dimes or nickels out as well.

If you wanted to create a system, you could have a jar of assorted coins which you periodically separated into coin specific jars.

In terms of time value and opportunity cost, if it takes you 1 second per coin to reduce the transaction fee from 10% to zero, then counting pennies is worth $3.60/hr, counting nickels is worth $18.00/hr, dimes $36.00/hr, and quarters $90/hr. (btw picking up pennies is worth $36.00/hr)

So given these numbers, Coinstar really is a ripoff, but it’s not a ripoff because coins are real money, it’s a ripoff because the effort savings of using coinstar are not worth the cost of the transactions fees that they charge, except for pennies.

Anonymous says:

People keep too much change, Coinstar’s exhorbitant fees taught me to use exact change in transactions rather than just throwing the coins in storage.

Anonymous says:

For those of you talking about bank fees, corner stores are almost always willing to swap your coins for paper money.

Anonymous says:

Me and my cousin tried a *Coinstar* machine at the New Super Walmart in Sun Prairie, WI.
It was our first time so we didn’t really expect much to happen. We brought about a good 10-25 pound coin bag with us. After reading the Terms and Agreement or whatever that says it would take off 9.8% for every $1 made. After getting up to about $95 in coins, the machine died -__-‘
WTF ?!? And im sure there were at least 30 quarters in there, but it indicated 2 quarters… ?! -.-‘
*DO NOT USE COiNSTAR IF YOU VALUE COINS !!!* lol

Anonymous says:

I remember as a kid seeing the commercial of coinstar( the fairy had a huge bag a change and one evening dropped the whole bag of change on the stairs, so she went to coinstar) you can actually transfer your coins to cash? some people say it’s a rip off but when your in a tough situation you’ll try anything that sounds goods. I’m in a tough situation I don’t have enough to pay for my new state id licencse.

Anonymous says:

You’d have to be pretty hard-up to pay 90 cents on the dollar for change to bills. Sounds like an electronic “quick-change artist.”

Anonymous says:

I used a Coinstar Machine today here in Hawaii. But I didn’t throw in a random amount of coins. I had actually counted out the coins in order to put them into those old school paper rolls. When I went to the bank to get some of those rolls I saw a Coinstar machine (my bank but I was in a different town) so I decided to put it in there. I had $24 in quarters, $19 in dimes, $16 in nickels, and $11 in pennies. When I ran them through the machine it said I had 62$ not counting some of the coins it wouldn’t accept and the % they take (I was taking cash)

Anonymous says:

This article (and many of the comments) overlooks something pretty simple. My time is worth much more than the fee charged by Coinstar. You might want to waste an entire Saturday (or even an hour) counting change. But I don’t want to. Nor do I want to make a separate trip to the bank to get cash for change. The business model is doomed as young people today use electronic payment nearly exclusively, however in the meantime, I’ll gladly pay $5 for $95 in cash. This only doesn’t make sense if you’re a minimum wage worker, in which case, you probably don’t have $100 sitting in a jar. Worry about yourself, if you don’t like the fees, just drop your change off at the charity of your choice and stop your bellyaching.

Vern T says:

As you read about coinstar on the internet. You are so busy blowing smoke up your own ass . What have you the time to belittle us peasants.
All joking aside being your time is so valuable. How is it possible for you to be reading about cashing in change using coinstar.

Anonymous says:

its so ridiculous, i put in 99 dimes and it was willing to give me only $8.75 back -_-. how in the world is 8.9% of $9.90 = $8.75?! on top of that, the machine decided to shut down on me, and took my freaking 9 dollars! now ill have to wait 24-48 hours for it to give me back my ripped off money back -_-… NEVER EVER going to be using anything like coinstar EVER again.

Anonymous says:

Coinstar is not a ripoff. If they tell you right up front what the conditions are and you agree to them, it is not a ripoff.

I have counted and rolled coins before, even had a little gadget to help. I HATED it!

I happily use a Coinstar machine in our grocery star so it’s not even a separate trip. I use the Amazon option and therefor don’t pay a thing. Of course Amazon (or whoever) must be paying them something.

I would even be more than willing to pay 10%.

I love the service and it’s a little rude to tell people who don’t do it your way that they are fools.

It’s a great idea and I congratulate the guy who thought it up and developed it. Americana at it’s best.

Anonymous says:

I would like to be able to put my coins into the machine and have the amount go towards paying my CC bills. I don’t mind paying a SMALL fee. And I mean small pennies on the dollar.

Anonymous says:

You people claiming that 1 cent is worth 2 or 3 cents are correct, however
it’s a crime to melt them down. To the guy in the small hick town, why not simply
open up an acct. at the local bank. I swear some people are so cheap it amazes me.

Anonymous says:

Just wanted to pop by and state to the tight fisted fella, that yes 8.9% of the change counted is taken, however not only does it provide a quick and easy solution to removing lose change, it also helps contribute to some of the worlds charities like cancer research and children in need making a real difference to people’s lives.
the machine states that you will be losing a percentage and the buyer then has the option to proceed

Anonymous says:

And they are getting pre 1982 pennies worth 2 cents.

Anonymous says:

Taking the time to roll coins can be done in a slow down time. It’s a close to mindless activity so you can listen to the news while doing it. i have begun to save my change. Who knows when a person will need it.

Anonymous says:

Anyone that thinks Coinstar or any other company will dish out money to build a machine and allow you to use it without charge is absurd.It appears everybody wants something for nothing nowdays.Its like anything elase in this world, you pay for convenience. For many its well worth not to have to spend the time and effort to count and roll.If your too cheap and have a luxury of a lot of spare time,than count and roll your own change and take it to the bank. You forgot to mention there are many local banks that provide Coinstar or change counting macine service to their account holders free of charge and do not take any percentage of the money .

Anonymous says:

Who has time to roll coins? I’ve found CoinStar a Very useful tool; no fee if you take the ecards. Don’t we all shop online these days! Vw

Anonymous says:

I hate Coinstar but am finding little other choice.
I moved to a small hick town recently.
The Banks wouldn’t accept any of my rolled coins unless i had an account and the stores wouldn’t take them at all. They just flat out said No.

CoinStar has a monopoly on loose change, hell, even rolled change. I have no problem rolling the change myself, but no one will even take it any more. Coinstar owns coins here..

Anonymous says:

Not only are you a fool for paying for this fleecing but all the pre 1982 pennies your dumping into this machine are worth 3 cents in copper.
My question is how do I get some of these machines myself?I’ll take all of your copper and your coins for 5% you lazy bastards.

Anonymous says:

I use coinstar, but never redeem in cash. The 10% fee is too much. I always get the amazon gift card at face value. I buy a lot of stuff on amazon, so to me, its the same as cash.

Anonymous says:

I just found this article through a Google search. I just posted a similar article about this up on my blog, and I listed some other ways to use your loose change before you waste it on Coinstar. It’s amazing because they also take 7.5% off the top even when you turn in your change for a charitable donation, which I find ridiculous.

Anonymous says:

I don’t see any issue with TD Bank charging non-customers to use their counting machine. That machine is a valuable service that saves their customer’s time, and it costs the bank money to purchase and maintain the coin system. If they didn’t charge then people might run to their machines instead of Coinstar and TD Bank’s account holders would be flipping the bill (and waiting in line) for it.

Anonymous says:

I wish my grocery store would offer this service. My husband and I put our spare change in a big coffee can and it’s nearly full again. Full is usually between $250 and $300. That would be my grocery budget for the month and a grocery gift card would be wonderful! I haven’t used TDBank since last summer and at that time there was no fee for non-customers. I guess from what you’re saying, they are charging non-customers now. Too bad.

Anonymous says:

People are willing to pay a fee for the convenience, since some are too busy to count/sort the change and go to a bank. Is it a ripoff though? It’s more of a savvy business idea. If I buy a car for $2k and sell it for $3k I’m not ripping that person off.

Anonymous says:

i am with flexo on this one, personally, i think the service is a rip-off. i would rather take the time than just lose 10% of my money. perhaps the time is not worth it for some people, but for me it is. that said, i can see the value in dropping the coins in and getting “credit” from a retailer you would use anyway, but there is still the possible “error loss” of using the machine. if they provided a bonus in addition to simply eliminating the processing fee, perhaps i could be convinced to use the service. perhaps.

Anonymous says:

I agree with Flexo, the service is not really worth the fee. I have always thought that they were a rip-off. Then again my credit union has a coin machine I can use for free. Even if they didn’t I’d just roll it myself like I did before.

Anonymous says:

Is this any different than people who pay ATM fees?
Some people don’t have bank accounts, therefore pay to have a grocery store or walmart cash their checks or even the bank it was drawn on.
Some people are embarased to use coins – the fee is worth it to their pride.

Anonymous says:

Many credit unions will count the coins for you for free if you deposit them into your account. I just take a jar or bag full and hand it over to the teller.

Anonymous says:

I fall into camp Coinstar! I’m happy to pay $9.80 rather than count up $100 worth of coins in my free time – wait, I don’t have any free time.

With the Amazon option, you can’t go wrong. I can buy diapers, my kid’s school uniform pants, Brita water filters, Christmas presents, I’ve never had trouble finding something to use the gift card for.

Plus, coins are dirty. 🙂

Anonymous says:

Honestly, Coinstar doesn’t work well, If any coins are “defective” it spits them back out and often it will count the dimes for pennies(extra rip off) so plus the fee, no thanks. I’ll count them myself and take them to my credit union where they’ll take them. 🙂

Anonymous says:

This post is like watching an episode of Seinfeld, except even more amusing and informative 😉

Luke Landes says:

I should have started the article off with, “What is the deal with CoinStar machines?!” My Seinfeld impression isn’t very good, though. I just tried it out loud.

Anonymous says:

I love the back and forth of opposite opinions created by this post! I wish we had more posts that caused this type of reaction from the readers of this blog. Great job, Flexo!

Anonymous says:

I like counting coins when I’m sitting watching tv, so counting them isn’t a big deal. I don’t have a bank nearby so I find someone willing to take the coins and have them write me a check.

I’ve used coinstar before and it was relatively convenient, but I’d still rather do it myself, especially since I only roll coins once every two years or so and it’s usually less than $50.

Anonymous says:

Great post! Inspired me to swing by a bank on the way home and pick up some free coin wrappers and count up my change. Here’s to a found $50 cache of coins I had in the change jar.

Anonymous says:

“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
H. L. Mencken

Or the sloth of some of them.

Anonymous says:

I went to use CoinStar only once — when they had the $10 amazon bonus in the winter. I had the coins separated into $40-ish piles ($10 extra for $40). It turned out they were unable to give me amazon gift cards (not sure why), so they gave me cash instead — no fee — and I still got the $10 codes for amazon over the phone a few days later. Sweet!

Anonymous says:

Central Jersey Bank has free machines for customers. If you don’t have an account where the bank counts for free…..ask a friend who does to take in your coins. CJB will not accept wrapped coins since they have machines. I also have a little coin caddy(dollar store item) where the cylinder indicates to you that you have the amount for the coin wrapper. Pay Coinstar—-no way!

Anonymous says:

Don’t use cash. Problem solved 🙂

Anonymous says:

I’m in the wrong business.

Anonymous says:

The bank weighs the coin roll to make sure it has the correct weight for the number of coins that should be in the roll.

However, not all banks take rolls for free from non-customers. Currently we don’t pay a teller fee at our bank, but once we’re forced to, we’ll likely switch to getting Amazon cards from a Coinstar machine. We shop at Amazon regularly enough that it’s a decent deal.

Of course, we also keep some change around for parking meters. 🙂

Anonymous says:

I wanted to note that most banks will NOT accept rolled coins. It would be way too easy to make a roll of coins look real.

Luke Landes says:

I haven’t done a study, but every bank I’ve brought coins to, other than TD Bank/Commerce Bank that pointed me to the coin counting machine, accepted rolled coins. When asked, they preferred rolled coins over loose coins, and did so without opening the rolls. I believe they placed the coins in a tray that was used to check the size of the roll, then verified the weight of the rolls using a scale. I suppose they also had my account number so if they later found I short-changed them, they would be able to debit my account, but I can’t be certain.

Anonymous says:

You have to have an account with the bank if you want them to accept your coin. Many banks no longer have you put your account number on each roll either.

Steve

Anonymous says:

They weight them to make sure they’re fine. Even if you put effort into faking it, you probably would waste more time trying to get the right amount for a few bucks, and you’d still be on all the camera’s so you’d be caught.

Anonymous says:

Well I worked for a national bank, and the fraud department enforced that we break all rolls open and have the machine count them.
As we never accepted rolls of coins we never would associate an account number with a cash exchange transaction.

Anonymous says:

9.8% does sound a little steep, but on the other hands I recently had about $120 worth of coins and I would never dream of counting it by hand. The CoinStar fee was a small price to pay in that situation. I just don’t like counting coins.

Anonymous says:

They let me easily donate to my favourite charity (WWF) without any fees. This is the only reason I use their service.

Luke Landes says:

I wonder how much WWF is paying CoinStar to accept donations at their machines. It may be a percentage of your donation. That being said, I often donate to charity using a credit card, and the charity is most likely charged by a payment processor for that as well. I do think it’s great that CoinStar offers this type of charitable opportunity, but someone is paying for it. A standard credit card processing fee (for VISA via electronic “card not present” transaction) is 1.8% plus $0.10 for each transaction; WWF may be paying 5% to 9.8% for your CoinStar donation if they don’t charge you a fee.

Anonymous says:

All fund raising has inherent costs. Some charities pay large sums (20-50%) of the donated amounts for people to knock on doors for them. WWF does the math and says “Hey, we are getting 90% from Coinstar but that’s better than 0% if they don’t contribute, and it’s competitive with what we pay elsewhere to raise money”.

Luke Landes says:

It completely makes sense from a charity’s perspective! Absolutely. There is no denying that any charity would receive more contributions by finding creative ways to make it easier for people to donate. From a personal perspective, the point of view of a consumer or contributor who is already planning to donate, I try to give in such a way that my contribution — a fixed amount — is used as fully as possible by the organization, not spent on fees. I don’t know the arrangement between CoinStar and WWF, but when I donate $100, the organization most likely gets to keep a larger percentage if I pay by credit card, an even larger percentage if I send a check, and almost 100% of my contribution if I can donate via ACH.

Anonymous says:

Rolling coins? CoinStar? Bank machines? Amazon gift cards? You young guys should just wait awhile for your money …. if you can. Afterall that’s what grandkids are for! As for the charges? A couple Candy Bars at the most 😉

Anonymous says:

It costs me $2.00 every time I talk to a teller at my bank. Definitely cheaper to hit Coinstar every once in awhile.

Luke Landes says:

Yikes! That’s another case against stupid fees… just in your case, it’s a stupid bank fee rather than a stupid CoinStar fee. More banks may be doing this now, but there are still free alternatives. Find a bank that doesn’t nickel-and-dime you. Of course, most people are content to let these fees show up and increase — I believe CoinStar’s fee was “only” 6% a few years ago — and that’s what they count on to continue to operate, providing the same services at roughly the same business cost…

Anonymous says:

I agree with the posters above that if you use coinstar to acquire amazon or other retail gift cards then it is not a bad option. I didn’t even realize they offered gift cards and I will now check them out since I use Amazon to buy music other items often.

Anonymous says:

I remain bitter after my one CoinStar experience. I wanted to get an Amazon certificate to avoid the fees. It was only after depositing my coins into the machine (and got an accurate count; I had estimated the amount beforehand) that the machine indicated that it wasn’t dispensing Amazon credit–despite the fact that I had indicated BEFORE depositing coins that I wanted it. So I wound up getting cash and losing that 9.8%.

Anonymous says:

Barb, that is too bad. You should have called Coinstar directly and they would have gladly refunded your money.

Anonymous says:

I have accounts at two banks and neither will “gladly do it for free.” In fact they require me to roll the coins and put my account number on each roll which takes time that I’d rather not spend. I am surprised that no one else is trying to undercut CoinStar – especially banks. Why doesn’t my bank offer to do it for 3% or 4%? They’ve got the counting machine already.

But is 9.8% a rip-off? Apparently not judging by CoinStar’s earnings over the last 13 years. Enough people must be willing to pay the fee rather than deal with the inconvenience to support a very profitable business.

You could buy 100 shares of their stock to (hopefully) offset the fee, though…

Luke Landes says:

That’s a great point. Given the public’s proclivity to pay for services like this and CoinStar’s success, you could certainly cash in by buying their stock, hoping to get an average annual return better than 9.8%.

Anonymous says:

for sure.

Anonymous says:

This article assumes people’s time is worth nothing or close to it. How long would it take the average person to sort the average $100 jar of coins? My bet is it would take far longer than an hour, but just for the sake of argument lets call it an hour. So, I would pay ~$10 to save myself an hour of work. Since my time is worth far more than $10/hr to me, it is a good deal. I’d call it a great deal when Amazon pays my fee, since I purchase from Amazon at least monthly. Poorly thought out topic by the author, why would anyone pay for any services using his premises? Shame on consumerism commentary for posting such a low quality article.

Luke Landes says:

I’ll gladly take any coins you have and give you less money than their worth in return. Many fees are worthwhile; others, like a 9.8% fee for counting money — either unnecessary or possible for free, less so.

Anonymous says:

In order to take his coins in exchange for less money, you would need to:

(1) Contact him and set up a meeting time and place;
(2) Agree on a rate of exchange;
(3) Travel to the meeting place;
(4) Travel from the meeting place;
(5) Roll the change yourself; and
(6) Bring the change to the bank for deposit.

All of these steps take time and energy. Some of them also cost money if you are driving a car. I’m still not seeing how coinstar is always a rip-off. For some people it might make a lot of sense.

Categorically calling it a rip-off is pretty bold. If I wanted to give a friend a $25 iTunes gift card (for helping me or for a birthday) – should I roll up my change and head to the bank? Or would it make sense to use coinstar and get the gift card?

Luke Landes says:

Heh. OK, in that instance it would be quite a chore. But if someone I interact with daily were wiling to hand me change in exchange for less money in paper, it would be a no-brainer for me. To your other point — if your intent is to buy a $25 gift card for iTunes, it certainly makes sense to go to where you can get that gift card for $25 — or even less. I am not a super-frugal type of person. I don’t think it makes sense to save every cent at the expense of other things in life. I do have a problem with the way service fees creep in and creep up, when free alternatives exist, and exist without the benefit of marketing teams, advertising consultants, and corporate partnerships, thus leading people not to consider these free alternatives.

Anonymous says:

As I outlined in my comments above, none of the options for trading in coins are free. One option costs time, the other costs money. I attempted to do some rudimentary math above to illustrate the point that the money value of time is important in calculating the value of a transaction, but it seems lost on you. If you are willing to perform this service for a lower fee than CoinStar, as you say you will do gladly, perhaps you should start doing so rather than writing uninformed articles on subjects you clearly have no understanding of.

Time = Money. Coinstar saves you time, but costs you money. Determining whether a time for money exchange is a “rip off” for one party requires knowledge of how much time is worth in terms of money for both parties.

Luke Landes says:

AB: I’m well aware of the value of time. You’re quite free to spend your money as you see fit. Perhaps you have no opportunities to have the same service performed for you, at roughly the same level of convenience, for free. Maybe you’ve looked into this issue before. I don’t know your unique circumstances. I do think 9.8% is too steep a price to pay for a service with many less expensive (in terms of money and time) alternatives available with barely any effort. Most people will blindly pay these fees without consideration of alternatives. In fact, some customers aren’t even aware that CoinStar charges a fee, and even after looking at their receipt, they still may not even realize a fee has been charged. It’s worth raising the issue, and I have no problem with dissenting opinions.

Anonymous says:

If you plan ahead the time it takes to organize your coins is minimum. You can have paper wrappers set up for each type of coin and you accumulate the coins inside the wrappers instead of accumulating all inside a jar. The time it takes to bring these wrappers to your bank is the same time it takes to to bring them to a coin star. Besides, the time=money argument sometimes is taken to extremes, we all have idle times during the day when we are basically doing nothing productive (watching TV, taking a nap, talking to a friend, etc). At least I don’t make money watching TV, that is time I could very well spend organizing my coins and saving $10 or more in the process. Bottom line, I agree with Flexo.

Anonymous says:

Same analogy Flexo. I’ll gladly take your money and give you a sandwich, that I made, that contains ingredients worth less than you give me. Thing is, i’ll be marking it up a lot more than 10%!

It is a service. Not one i’d pay for either, but some will – obviously. The extreme frugalists will never buy a sandwich, they’ll always make it at home. Same bread, meat, veg and cheese as the store you could buy a similar product. Those frugalists will also roll their own coins instead of having a machine take 10% to provide them a similar service.

Anonymous says:

Thing is Flexo, is Starbucks a rip off? $5 for a coffee you can make yourself for $0.30?
Is a restauart a rip off? $20 for a pub style fish and chips when you can make the same for $3 at home?

You’re paying for a service just like any other service. When you opt to pay instead of do it yourself you are assigning value to your time (and perhaps skills).

Sure, 10% seems like a lot but in a society like North America where we pay for so-so or even sub par service and then TIP 10% to the sub-par service provider out of a feeling we “have to” or “they don’t get paid much, top ’em up”, this particular “rip off” doesn’t seem all that bad.

Anonymous says:

Reminds me of Flexo’s postings about lunch:

“For several years, I traveled out of the office almost every day with co-workers to buy lunch at a variety of local quick and unhealthy restaurant options. Later on, I opted for lunch from the office cafeteria, which was often just as expensive as dining out, but possibly healthier. This was a fairly expensive habit, sometimes about $50 a week.” -2/13/11

Luke Landes says:

Interesting analogy, but I don’t agree. You could make the same fish and chips at home, but it’s not necessarily really the same. One goes to a restaurant because they like either the food (it’s unique or well-prepared), the experience, or the convenience. The only thing CoinStar has going for it is convenience. Often, you could be even more accurate (or “well-prepared”) doing it yourself. Is the convenience worth it? Maybe for some, but I don’t think it should be, when other options are often just as convenient but free. I understand it’s not always just as convenient, but all it takes is some smart planning. If you have buckets of coins to count? Well, I wouldn’t do that myself, but I would still choose free options over CoinStar.

Anonymous says:

I agree with Steve. I have used CoinStar several times; I just wait until I need to get something from a merchant on their gift card list, then take my coins and exchange them for a voucher for the merchant I choose. My kids like it because, as Steve mentioned above, they download a lot of stuff off iTunes and would be spending the money anyway. This way, they save their change and turn it into something they actually need or want.

Counting and rolling up a lot of coins does take time. If used wisely, the CoinStar machines can be a good thing.

Anonymous says:

I’ve only used coin counters a few times. Once was at a bank where the teller tried to sell me on opening an account when I cashed the receipt. I’ve used coinstar a couple of times – including receiving a gift card (Lowes, I believe) for my coins. I felt the transactions were pretty easy and straightforward (I don’t think the machine short-changed me (no pun intended) but it did reject a few coins repeatedly).

I think your post leaves out a couple of parts of the discussion on whether or not to use a coin counter. One is the actual cost of going to the bank (gas, parking/metro/bus). You recommend going to the bank twice. Once for the wrappers and a second time with your coins. While some people walk or combine trips, a lot of other folks drive and two trips to the bank costs gas money even if combined with other trips.

The other issue is the opportunity cost of someone’s time. Counting and rolling up coins yourself does take time and that is time you could have spent doing something else (which could be working or could be exercise, spending time with family, etc).

I’m just not sold on the idea that coinstar is a rip-off in all situations. For someone who downloads a lot of songs from iTunes or orders from Amazon, it could work out well as they would already be spending that money anyway.

Anonymous says:

Just thought I’d mention you don’t even need coin wrappers to wrap your own coins. Banks will accept coins rolled in whatever paper you have lying around – as long as they’re rolled in the typical amounts (i.e. $10 for quarters, $5 for dimes, $2 for nickels, and 50 cents for pennies. I just rolled $27 worth of coins in lined paper and the teller had no problem giving me cash for them.

Anonymous says:

Your experience is rare! Banks do charge because it takes time. Banks will do anything to move you out of the lobby, because it costs them $ 2.25 for every tranaction handled by a teller. $.12 for every transaction handled through online banking and $29 per transaction via ATM…

Anonymous says:

Error….$.29 per transaction via ATM

Anonymous says:

The bank I worked at actually encouraged people NOT to roll their own coins, because it required us (the tellers) to sort them by hand and have the machine re-roll them. This wasn’t just the bank being paranoid–a lot of the rolled “coins” we received had rolled up coin-like objects or foreign coins inserted with legitimate U.S. currency.

Anonymous says:

I don’t keep loose change around anymore but it’s not my experience that “any bank will gladly do it for you for free.” The banks that I’ve tried require your account number on each roll and I haven’t even asked for paper rollers in more than a decade because they would never give them out.

Even if you could get the wrappers for free AND had a bank willing to make the exchange, it’s not a waste of money if you value the time that would be spent counting and rolling at more than 9.8%.

Anonymous says:

Neither my bank nor my credit union will accept rolls of coins for free. Both charge a fee to exchange already rolled coins for cash, or just to deposit them, even when I have an account at both.

I used Coinstar last year when there was a promotion that gave an extra $10 at Amazon for every $40 you cashed in, with no fees. Otherwise, I just spend coins as cash while I’m shopping and avoid the whole cashing in trouble.

Anonymous says:

Sounds like you need to get a new bank. Coins are legal currency, for a bank to charge you to accept them is ridiculous.

Anonymous says:

i’ve never used coinstar so i have no personal experience.

Anonymous says:

Then why comment? I’m looking for opinions, not “i don’t know, i’ve never used it’. WTF?

Anonymous says:

And why exactly did you (AnnieMack) comment now? To add move value to the discussion? I figured I’d one-up you. Cheers!

Anonymous says:

I used to find coinstar pretty convenient. I haven’t seen any coin counting machine at my bank (BoA), so that’s not an option. The one I had access to would waive the fee if you got the money as an Amazon gift card. I use Amazon fairly often, so that was great for me. I tended to think of it as a way I could treat myself, since coins sitting around in a jar were not part of my budget 😀

Anonymous says:

Totally agree here, although it should be noted that they sometimes do things where you actually get 10% extra by getting say an amazon gift certificate instead of cash. In that case, it’s a no brainer (assuming you would be buying something from amazon anyway). Even if the machine is off by 5% you still come out way ahead (who wouldn’t take a 5% instant payoff). Of course they usually limit these things – otherwise you could have the gov’t ship you free dollar coins, get your rewards points, then toss them into coinstar and reap even more rewards:)

Anonymous says:

Juggler, I think Flexo is saying that the Coinstar machines are often off, but this goes both ways and you could easily end up losing money.

Anonymous says:

That’s not what I’d say – his two lead paragraphs espouse on not paying someone (coinstar) to count money for you…he then said as an addition that the machines are often off, so it could be even worse. Then he points out that coins are real money…not needing to be changed in, and if you want to do so, just go to the bank and get paper money in exchange.

What I said was that there are deals where you make out even if the machine is off. Which, I thought, was a decent reply to an article telling you never to use the machines.

Your reply to my comment both summed up his original article badly and also doesn’t really make any sense considering what I actually said. Also I started out by totally agreeing with Flexo…and added that there are times when it can make sense. Did you read the entire original post or my reply?

Anonymous says:

Oh, I’m sorry – I misunderstood your comment. I thought you were saying 10% extra based on the fact that Coinstar doesn’t take a percentage when you get a gift card in return (thought you were just rounding the numbers and calling it “extra”). I see what you mean now, and agree that if you have a need for the gift card then Coinstar is the easiest way to go. I had no idea they sometimes give you 10% more than what you actually put in for gift cards – that’s an even better deal!

Anonymous says:

Of course even though it’s a good deal I didn’t partake. I felt the $20 max (so $2 match) on 6 merchants wasn’t worth my time. Having to go to a coinstar, bring the coins, then find ways to use the various things that don’t make it not worth it…

I read a lot of “frugal” blogs and such things…(where I heard this tip the first time), but a lot of these tips…just don’t seem worth it. Maybe that’s why I’m nowhere near being a millionaire though!