If you’ve ever had loose change in a jar or in the bottom of your purse, you may have Googled “Coinstar near me” to try and find a place to turn those coins into dollar bills!
Because everyone needs a change jar to save some extra money!
As a kid I remember it well. We’d all gather around the kitchen table and soon my folks would come out with this gigantic jar of coins. This was spare change that they’d saved up for the last six months or more.
The glass jar was filled to the brim with dimes, nickels, pennies and our favorite, all those quarters!
Back then, there were free coin counting machines all over the place, but we actually had fun rolling all those coins.
These days it can be hard to find coin counting machines. And it’s even harder to avoid paying to have your coins counted.
Coinstar is one option to use for coin counting, but they definitely aren’t free. In this article, we’ll show you hacks to avoid Coinstar fees.
What is Coinstar?
Coinstar is a company that helps consumers take coins and turn those coins into cash. Their tag line is “We empower consumers by transforming what they have into what they want”.
Coinstar was founded in 1989 by a Stanford University college student, Jens Molbak. Jens was trying to figure out what to do with his jar of coins and came up with the idea of building a kiosk that would accurately count the cash.
Coinstar is quite successful. In 1992, the first kiosk was ready to go. By 1999, Coinstar’s 5000th kiosk had been installed.
In 2002, its 10,000th kiosk was installed. His vision clearly was to make Coinstar machines convenient for all to use.
And if you search “Coinstar near me” today, you’re likely to find a machine very near your home.
Also interesting is that between 2006-2017, consumers donated more than 72 million dollars to charity through Coinstar kiosks. That’s a lot of money!
You can see that Coinstar handles a lot of coins and a lot of cash. And it’s no wonder, with so many people today trying to get their coins turned into cash, Coinstar is a viable option.
Of course, many people that search for a “Coinstar near me” just want their cash quickly and aren’t aware that the way Coinstar makes money is through its fees.
In fact, Coinstar makes the majority of their money through fees they charge at Coinstar kiosks.
How Much Does a Coinstar Counting Machine Charge for Counting Your Coins?
Getting your coins counted by a Coinstar machine is not cheap.
They charge 11.9% to turn your coins into cash! When I found out Coinstar takes almost 12% of your coin deposit in fees, I was shocked.
Let’s do the math. If you deposit $100, Coinstar will take almost $12 of your hundred dollar deposit, leaving you with $88. That’s a very large percentage of your cash going to Coinstar fees.
Why would people pay that large of a fee just for having their coins counted? It comes down to convenience.
Coinstar may be one of the only choices for coin counting for many people. Years ago, all the banks had coin counting machines and routinely accepted coin deposits from customers.
Now, this isn’t the case. Many banks removed their coin counting machines altogether and most banks won’t accept coins unless they’re rolled.
U.S. Bank is one of the larger banks that still has some free coin counters. They’re one of the very few that do.
Hacks to Avoid Paying the Coinstar Fees
Most people just bite the bullet and pay the Coinstar fee to get cash for their coins. But, if you’re not set on redeeming your coins for cash, there are two good ways that you can avoid paying the Coinstar fees.
- Redeem Your Coins for an e-gift card
- Donate Your Coins to Charity
Either option above will allow you to get all your money from the coins you deposited. So, you’ll totally avoid paying the Coinstar fees.
Coinstar Near Me: Redeem For e-gift Card
- Simply choose e-gift card instead of cash when redeeming.
- There are no fees when you redeem for an e-gift card.
- The e-gift cards work just like a regular plastic gift card.
- There are many big-name merchants to choose from.
Keep in mind that not all of the gift cards below are offered at every kiosk, so if you have a favorite merchant that you want to redeem your coins for, you may have to look at a couple of kiosks.
And, the merchant list is always evolving so you may find new merchants frequently.
Here are some of the e-gift cards you can select, with their minimum and maximum redemption amounts:
AMC Theatres. Minimum $5, Maximum $100
Amazon. Minimum $5, Maximum $1000
Apple. Minimum $10, Maximum $500
Applebee’s. Minimum $5, Maximum $500
Cabela’s. Minimum $5, Maximum $500
Domino’s Pizza. Minimum $10, Maximum $100
GameStop. Minimum $15, Maximum $500
Gap. Minimum $10, Maximum $500
Hotels.com. Minimum $10, Maximum $500
Lowes. Minimum $5, Maximum $1000
Nike. Minimum $5, Maximum $500
Ruby Tuesday. Minimum $5, Maximum $200
Sephora. Minimum $10, Maximum $500
Southwest Air. Minimum $25, Maximum $500
The Home Depot. Minimum $5, Maximum $2000
Coinstar Near Me: Redeem for Donation to Charity
- There are no fees when you redeem for a donation to charity.
- There are many popular charities to choose from.
- Your donation is tax deductible. (save your receipt!)
- This option is a great, easy way to give back!
Keep in mind that not all charities are available on every kiosk. So, like gift cards, if you’re set on donating to a specific charity, you may have to visit a couple of kiosks to find that charity.
Here are the charities that are currently available with Coinstar:
American Red Cross
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
World Wildlife Foundation
Personally, I would always opt for either the e-gift card or donating my coins to charity.
I’d never pay the almost 12% fee to Coinstar for counting my coins.
There’s really no reason to when they offer two alternatives for redemption that allow you to avoid the Coinstar fees.
Other Ways to Count Your Coins With No Coinstar Fees
If you want to turn your coins into cash and don’t want to mess around with the whole “Coinstar near me” thing, you do have options.
Use the Acorns App
You can opt to use the Acorns app and you won’t have to worry about collecting spare change.
The Acorns app takes your purchase amount and automatically rounds it up to the nearest whole dollar amount and then takes the difference and puts it in the Acorns savings account.
Once you’ve accumulated $5, Acorns automatically invests that money for you. So, you’ll save money automatically and painlessly!
Plus, you won’t have spare change to worry about – no more googling “Coinstar near me” for the nearest coin counting machine!
Acorns is really a super way to dive into the world of investing if you’re not really sure what to do but want to get into the markets.
You can even choose to manually invest your Acorns money if you want to take a more hands-on approach.
Search for Other Coin Counters
Look around your city for banks or credit unions that still have coin counting machines.
While not plentiful, they can be found.
You’ll probably have the most luck with smaller local credit unions. Your local credit union may still have coin counting machines.
Most likely, they will require you to be a member of their credit union but this really isn’t a bad idea.
Credit unions have solid product offerings and you can usually join a credit union very easily, for free.
And if you typically have a lot of coins, the coin counting machine alone will make your membership worthwhile. This is a great hack to avoid the Coinstar fees.
Roll Your Own Coins
Sure, this isn’t exactly the most high-tech way to avoid Coinstar fees, but who cares?! It’s so easy to grab coin wrappers and roll your own coins.
If you don’t feel like doing it, chances are you can bribe your kids to roll your coins for you.
Even if you have to pay them to do it, I’m sure their rates are better than the Coinstar fees.
Try some of these other tips for being frugal.
Wrap Up for Coinstar Near Me: Hacks to Avoid Coinstar Fees
Coinstar is a super user friendly and convenient way to take your coins and quickly turn them into cash.
The downside is that it will cost you – a lot – almost 12%! The good news is that there are alternatives to Coinstar.
And, if you do decide to use Coinstar, there are a few different hacks to avoid the Coinstar fees altogether!