Saturday, December 09, 2006

Loose Change

I've noticed these Coinstar machines at the local supermarket for the past couple years, however I've never used them because they charge a service fee of about 9% of the total value of the coins. I always thought it would be very handy to not have to roll coins, but the 9% fee seemed a bit steep. But, I honestly never set aside the time to roll my coins, so for the past few years I've been accumulating quite a bit of spare change. It was enough to fill one and a half medium-sized laundry detergent bottles.

Well, the other day I noticed the Coinstar machines now offer a free option for cashing in your spare change - if you choose to get the value of the coins as a gift certificate to various online companies (Amazon, Cabelas, and two other I can't remember). Since it's the holday season and I'll most likely be buying gifts for people online, I figured it would be a good time to cash in my change for an Amazon gift certificate. So I trudged (yes trudged - these coins were heavy!) out to the local Stop and Shop and poured the coins into the machine. One neat feature of the process is the machine displays statistics of the coinage as it is counted. So, what does one and a half laundry detergent bottles of coins add up to? I had 164 quarters, 1310 dimes, 761 nickels, and 2872 pennies (yikes! that's a lot of pennies!), giving a grand total of $238.77.

If you have jars of spare change and shop from Amazon or Cabelas (or those other places I can't remember), it might be worth your time to just dump your change in a Coinstar machine instead of rolling it. I've heard some banks offer a similar bulk coin counting service for free to their customers, but mine does not.

I should note that the Coinstar machines also offer an option to donate your change to a list of different non-profit organizations. What I wasn't able to determine was whether Coinstar takes a cut of the money in this case by charging the service fee.