COINSTAR, In Some Cases, Does Not Charge To Count Your Change

by on June 5, 2012

in consumer

coinstar logoWhen you check out a Coinstar machine, I know the biggest draw might be the change to cash option. But at an almost 10% counting fee, it almost doesn’t seem worth it. Yet for me, when I used to use the machines to convert my change to either pure cash or grocery shopping money, I felt that the fee was small enough to negate spending upwards of several hours counting dirty coins. Coins that left your fingers a funny color and smell. (Technically, I guess you could call it the smell the money)

But there’s more to Coinstar than meets the eye and I think, for this consumer, it has some incredible options for the spending of your coinage where it does not charge you, the consumer, for counting your money.

Throughout the year, when I spend cash, I never spend the coins I get in change. I keep them and store them in a jar. Over time, that jar gets pretty full and I find myself lugging the jar out of its corner and dragging it somewhere to count or turn in. The jar can end up weighing 30 or 40 pounds, so it’s a good workout!

And what I’ve discovered is that over a year’s time, I can end up with anywhere from $3-600 dollars in change. That used to be vacation funds for me. but I’ve since developed a better way to save big bucks for my vacations. Yet even though we may have $400 in change, how do you count it? It can take forever manually. The bank won’t do it for you either. I’ve been known to spend whole days pouring out, sorting and counting. Then you have to append your bank account number to the coin rolls, when you take it to the bank.

But now, there’s Coinstar, and it’s an awesome lifesaver because their machines count your coinage, do the math, and can convert your coins to cash.


If you’re going to convert your coins straight to cash, be aware that they charge a fee for their straight to cash mode of around [10%, 9.8 cents per dollar]. That can add up, and if you’re converting to cash, you could consider the fee the manual labor fee for tackling with all the pennies you would have had to count by hand, turning your fingers a coppery color.

But there are other options where Coinstar does not charge you a fee.

If you convert your coins into gift cards from places like Chili’s, Papa Johns, The Gap or Amazon, you WILL NOT be charged a fee. And that’s awesome! That’s when hoarding all that change pays off.

So if you thought all your options with those big green coin counting machines would cost you money, think again and go check it out at


Pay attention to the website and what they say each machine at each location does. The site shows you what each machine converts to what gift cards and I know which machines near me make Amazon gift cards. But if you go to a location that the website says does not do that, the machine in question still shows the option, and acts like it is connecting to Amazon, but then the transaction fails.

On the bright side… the failed transaction spits out a voucher for the full amount of the cash you gave it, circumventing the normal fee for straight-to-cash. (At least the last time I encountered it)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bruce Simmons June 9, 2012 at 12:23 am

Yes… I do have concern about a 10% surcharge WHEN I drop $5-800 of coin in a machine.

No sleep lost… just looking at it with a more aware perspective and TRYING TO CONSTRUCTIVELY SHARE the perspective with others who might be looking for a way to cash in change and aren’t aware they might have options.

I wasn’t looking to be attacked for sharing that.

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