According to recent data, 20% of Americans don’t save any of their annual income and 65% of those that do save very little. Regardless of whether you’ve put any thought into it, setting your loose change aside at the of the day is one form of saving money. The only trouble with saving coins is that when the jar is finally filled to the brim, you then have to go through the hassle of depositing this mountain of coins.
Finding the time to count and then pack the change into coin roller wrappers is a challenge for most people. It takes hours at end, depending on the number of coins you have. This is where a coin counting machine like Coinstar comes into play.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of Coinstar’s fee and charges, let’s look at what it essentially is.
What is Coinstar?
Coin counting machines were big at banks back in the day. Unfortunately, though some top banks in America still offer the service at a select few branches, most claim that they stopped offering the service because it costs too much to maintain the machines.
Though bank tellers still accept coins that are deposited in coin wrappers, this method demands a lot of time and patient from the customer. This is where alternatives like Coinstar and other kiosks for counting coins can be useful. Unlike traditional coin counting machines that were available in banks, these newer machines offer the depositor the chance to request cash, gift cards, or donations. Moreover, with around 20,000 kiosks located at grocery and retail stores, it offers customer comfort and convenience.
However, as with everything else – there’s a catch.
Coinstar Fees and Charges
How much does Coinstar charge? Currently, Coinstar’s fee is set at approximately 12% (11.9% to be exact) of the value of coins you’re getting converted to a cash voucher. In a nutshell, you’ll be losing $11.90 for every $100 in coins you deposit into the machine. While this may not seem like a hefty price if you consider $100-$200, you’ll need to hand over $59.50 if you feed $500 to the machine. After the percentage cut that Coinstar takes, you will be left with only $440.50!
Moreover, another pitfall when you’re exchanging for a cash voucher is that unless you’ve counted your coins, you’ll need to guess the fee amount. So instead of just dumping the coins and calling it a day, you’ll have to first count the coins at home, calculate the 12% fee and then proceed.
The Coinstar charges seem outrageous especially when you consider that they’re just switching your coins with dollar bills. However, people like the options because they prefer it over fumbling with paper wrappers and trying to put coins into them.
The good news is that there’s a way out of the 12% charge that Coinstar takes. If you play it smart, you can either reduce this fee or even remove it entirely.
How to Avoid Coinstar’s Fee
Decide to Go for a Gift Card
Instead of exchanging your small fortune with actual cash money, you have the option of switching them for gift cards or eCertificates. These gift cards are available for some of the most popular brands, and you can shop at your favorite retail stores using them. Amazon, Apple iTunes, Starbucks, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowes are a few of the gift card options.
To avail this offer, all you’ll need to do is to put in your change, select the gift card you want and voila, the machine will print out a receipt with a unique code which can be used as an actual physical gift card. One of the reasons why we love this option is because there’s no fee attached.
However, before you take an entire bag full of coins in hopes of swapping it for zero fee, know that Coinstar limits the amount of change you can deposit for a gift card. So, it’s better to know what the limits are. For the most popular Coinstar gift card, Amazon, the minimum you must deposit to get a gift card is $5 and the maximum is $1000.
Support Your Favorite Charity
While you may not have thought of giving away your money the first time you started saving, you should consider it when you want to reduce the 11.9 percentage fee Coinstar charges. Previously you were required to give a 7.5% fee when donating, but now there is current no fee if you choose a donation instead of a cash voucher or gift card.
Remember that charities pay transaction fees if you donate to them with a credit card or PayPal, so donating via Coinstar is a great choice.
Moreover, if you decide to give to charity, you won’t just be giving back to your community, but can also write it off on your taxes.
Go to a Bank Instead
Like we have already mentioned, there are a few banks that still offer free coin counting machines. Though you may need to pay a fee if you’re not a customer, their charges are usually a lot less when compared to Coinstar’s. However, with so many kiosks around the country, Coinstar is likely to be the more convenient option.
If you’re an existing customer with a bank, you can also roll the coins yourself after you’ve requested coin wrappers (usually free) from the teller. Once the coins have been properly rolled, the bank will be ready to switch them out for dollar bills or deposit them into your account.
Pay with Coins
Another option is to simply use your coins when making a purchase. Take only your higher denomination coins, mostly quarters, with you to the supermarket or grocery store and pay for your items. If you wish to avoid asking a cashier count all those coins, use self-checkout machines which have coin slots. These machines aren’t designed to handle tons of coins at once, so we don’t recommend this option for more than around $5-$10 worth of coins. Plus you’ll hold up the line!
After making your purchase, you can use Coinstar to exchange your smaller coins, such as nickels and pennies, into a cash voucher. This way the 11.9% fee will only effect a small portion of your saved up coins.
Coinstar is a convenient way to deposit the coins you’ve managed to save and get it exchanged for more manageable bills. However, it’s tough to decide whether or not to use this service because you’re expected to pay Coinstar’s fee. How much does Coinstar take? 11.9% of the total coins deposited. If you don’t want to lose that kind of money, make sure you try out the options mentioned above.