ow many of you still keep a jar for loose change? Try searching “Coinstar near me” and you'll find something interesting.
I know we do and there is nothing much better than seeing that baby full and finding a coin machine near me.
If you’re like us, you’ve done an internet search for “Coinstar near me” to find the nearest machine.
Side Note: Did you know that there are people that actually throw away change? $62 million a year to be exact. Baffling. Anyway, back to Coinstar.
What is Coinstar?
If you didn’t know anything about Coinstar when searching ‘Coinstar near me,’ you probably now know that Coinstar is a counting coin kiosk company.
Coinstar notes that 90% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a machine. Talk about a Coinstar near me—the nearest Coinstar could be just down the road from you!
With so many out there, you might have seen the green, vending-machine looking kiosks at the front of your grocery store. If you haven’t, keep an eye out next time you go to the grocery store, especially if you do your shopping at Kroger or Walmart. Or, just do a quick search for a ‘Coinstar near me’ and see where your nearest one is.
How much does Coinstar charge?
So, how much does Coinstar work or charge? Currently, Coinstar’s fee is 11.9% of the value of the coins you’re exchanging. Crazy! That’s almost $12 for every $100 in coins you exchange!
To put this into perspective, the average ATM fee is less than $3 no matter how much you take out. That’s approximately $9 more for virtually the same thing.
With such a big chunk of change taken off, you might be asking why do people use these machines?
Well, many banks have stopped accepting coin deposits. For example, a few years back PNC and TD Bank discontinued this service at all their branches citing a declining usage by customers.
And even banks that are willing to take your coins will likely charge you a fee.
No matter how you look at it, though, Coinstar charges a pretty hefty fee for simply switching out coins to cash.
The good news? We have some Coinstar hacks and ways to sidestep the fee.
Coinstar Near Me: How to Bypass the Coinstar Fee
There are really only two ways to bypass the Coinstar fee: convert your coins into a gift card or donate your cash to charity.
Some other ways that may charge fees include the card option, e-gift card, and cash voucher.
Let’s walk through the free options:
Convert Your Coins into Gift Cards
A way to bypass the Coinstar fee is by choosing to get a Coinstar gift card exchange for your change. With this option, you keep every penny for yourself.
The list of gift cards available includes many large and well-known companies, like Amazon and The Home Depot.
Here’s a full list of merchants and exchange limits:
- Amazon: Minimum amount: $5.00. Maximum amount: $1,000.00
- Applebees: Minimum amount: $5.00. Maximum amount: $500.00.
- Best Buy: Minimum amount: $5.00. Maximum amount: $500.00.
- GameStop: Minimum amount: $15.00. Maximum amount: $500.00.
- SouthWest: Minimum amount: $25.00. Maximum amount: $500.00.
- Starbucks: Minimum amount: $5.00. Maximum amount: $500.00.
- Steam: Minimum amount: $10.00. Maximum amount: $100.00.
- The Home Depot: Minimum amount: $10.00. Maximum amount: $500.00.
- iTunes: Minimum amount: $5.00. Maximum amount: $500.00.
The list of merchants is continuously changing, and some kiosks only provide one option like Amazon, so keep that in mind when going this route.
Before exchanging your change, I would suggest scoping out your local Coinstar kiosk and seeing what merchants are available at that location.
Convert Your Coins into a Donation
Another way to bypass the high Coinstar fee is by donating your loose change to charity. However, you’ll still pay a fee of 7.5%.
While it might seem counterintuitive to pay a fee to support your favorite charity, it’s actually pretty standard.
For example, PayPal charger 30 cents plus 2.2% of the total transaction amount to the receiving charity.
So, unless the charity will take your big pile of change, the odds are that either you or the receiving organization is going to have to pay a fee for your donation.
The Coinstar fee for a charity donation is still pretty hefty, but the convenience factor may make this option worthwhile.
Here’s a full list of charities Coinstar has partnered with:
- American Red Cross: The American Red Cross mobilizes to help their neighbors in emergencies whether across the street or across the world.
- Children's Miracle Network Hospitals: Raise funds for hospitals to provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada.
- Feeding America: Nationwide network of food banks that helps fight under in the United States.
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: Dedicated to finding treatments and a cure for blood cancer.
- The Humane Society of the United States: The Humane Society of the United States rescues and cares for tens of thousands of animals each year.
- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF): Works to improve children's lives by providing health care, clean water, and nutrition.
- United Way: Each donation helps fight for education, health, and financial stability for others in the community.
- World Wildlife Fund: This charity helps stop the degradation of the environment to help protect and restore animals natural habitats.
Similar to the e-gift cards, the list of charitable partners is continuously changing, so keep that in mind when going this route as well.
Before exchanging your change, you’ll need to scope out your local Coinstar kiosk and see what charitable partners are available at that location.
Other Ways to Use Your Spare Change
If you’re not a fan of the e-gift cards or paying the hefty fee to donate to charity, there are quite a few other ways to utilize your spare change.
Next, we’ll take a look at those options:
Roll Your Own Coins
Even though many banks do not have a coin counter, there are still plenty that will take rolled coins off your hands. You can get rolling sleeves from the store or have Amazon deliver them right to your door.
Scope Out a Bank for a Different “Coin Machine Near Me”
There are banks out there still that offer free coin counter machines in their branches. This is particularly true with credit unions. If you’re unsure if your bank offers a free coin counting machine, do a quick search of your bank’s website for services provided to members.
While the Acorns app doesn’t necessarily get rid of your loose change issue immediately, it is definitely something to consider to help.
When you use Acorns, your “spare change” from your debit card transactions are automatically invested without you even having to think about it.
How does it work?
Acorns rounds up your purchases to the next dollar. Once your account accumulates $5, the app invests your money.
Acorns even makes it easy for new investors to build an investment portfolio. The app analyzes your current financial situation and recommends the type of portfolio that will work for you. You also always have the option to choose how you want to invest manually.
Click here to start investing with Acorns and get a FREE $5 bonus for just signing up!
Self-Checkout to Pay for Normal Items
Are you part of the 66% of shoppers preferring self-checkout? If so, why not use your spare change next time?
Instead of rolling your coins for the banks or losing money to Coinstar, just pay in coins at self-checkout You won’t incur any fees—how great is that!
In summary …
So, next time you’re looking to turn those coins into cash, make sure to search “Coinstar near me.”
Coinstar offers a convenient way to get rid of your change if you’re willing to pay almost a 12% fee (yikes!).
However, lucky for us, Coinstar offers ways to bypass this hefty fee by converting your coins into gift cards (no fee, but limited merchants) or by donating your cash to charity (7% free and limited charitable partners).
There are also some other options in your arsenal like rolling your own coins or using your coins at self-checkout.
What method do you use for dealing with spare change? Do you prefer the old school method of rolling them, or do you prefer searching “Coinstar near me’ and take advantage of the convenience of Coinstar?