Coinstar fees (2024): How to avoid them and get the most back

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Coinstar is a company that operates coin-counting machines often found in grocery stores and retail locations, allowing customers to exchange their loose change for cash or gift cards. Coinstar charges a service fee and a transaction fee for trading your coins for cash. The service fee amounts to up to 12.5% of the total value of the coins you’re exchanging. Additionally, there’s a transaction fee of 50 cents imposed on the exchange. However, you have the option to bypass these fees by converting your funds into a gift card instead. This alternative, though, comes with a limitation: you can only select from a restricted range of e-gift cards associated with participating retailers and restaurants.

If we take an example where you decide to exchange $100 worth of coins, the breakdown of fees and the resulting cash you’ll receive would be as follows: The service fee could be as high as $12.50 (12.5% of $100), and the transaction fee is 50 cents. When you subtract these fees ($12.50 + $0.50) from the initial $100, the total deducted is $13, leaving you with $87.50. This means you would receive $87.50 in cash if you opted for the standard cash exchange after fees.

Nonetheless, there are strategies to navigate around or minimize these Coinstar fees. One approach is to opt for a gift card conversion, thereby eliminating the service and transaction fees entirely. However, this option restricts you to a limited selection of e-gift cards, limiting your choices to a specific set of participating retailers and restaurants.

Exploring alternative methods is another way to mitigate the impact of Coinstar fees. These methods might involve seeking out local banks or credit unions that offer coin-counting services without fees or with lower fees, allowing you to retain a larger portion of your coin value.

How to use Coinstar without a fee?

If you’re looking to utilize Coinstar without incurring any fees, here’s a comprehensive approach to doing so:

Coinstar, a service that converts loose change into various forms of payment, usually charges a service fee of up to 12.5% and a transaction fee of 50 cents per transaction. It’s important to note that fee structures can differ depending on the specific location of the Coinstar machine.

To circumvent these fees and get the most value from your change, consider the following steps:

  1. Opt for E-Gift Cards: One strategy to avoid fees is to select an electronic gift card (e-gift card) as your payout option instead of receiving cash. Coinstar provides a range of e-gift card choices that can be used at popular retailers and restaurants.
  2. Review Participating Merchants: Before opting for an e-gift card, it’s advisable to review the list of participating restaurants and retailers that Coinstar offers. Make sure the options align with your preferences and needs.

Here are some of the e-gift card options available through Coinstar:

  • AMC Theatres
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Applebee’s
  • Cabela’s
  • Chili’s
  • Domino’s
  • DoorDash
  • GameStop
  • Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta
  • IHOP
  • Lowe’s
  • Nike
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Roblox
  • Razer Gold
  • Red Robin
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Starbucks
  • Steam
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • The Home Depot

By opting for an e-gift card from one of these retailers, you’ll receive the full value of your change without incurring any Coinstar fees.

Remember to choose an e-gift card that you’ll genuinely use. This way, you can maximize the benefits of turning your spare change into something practical and enjoyable.

In summary, Coinstar’s fees can be avoided by selecting an e-gift card payout option. Take the time to explore the available options and choose a retailer or restaurant that aligns with your preferences. This approach allows you to make the most of your change without losing a portion of it to fees.

Is there an alternative to Coinstar?

When seeking alternatives to Coinstar, it’s important to consider that the options available are somewhat limited. While Coinstar is a well-known option for converting loose change into cash or gift cards, there are a few alternatives to explore, given that fewer banks these days offer change-counting machines. Here are a few alternatives you might consider:

  • Supermarket Coin Machines: Some supermarkets offer coin-counting machines similar to Coinstar. These machines typically charge a fee, but it might be lower than Coinstar’s fee. Check with your local supermarkets to see if they have such machines available.
  • Credit Union or Local Banks: Although fewer banks provide coin-counting machines, some credit unions or smaller local banks might still offer this service. It’s worth reaching out to financial institutions in your area to inquire about their coin-counting services.
  • Local Coin Shops: Depending on your area, you might find local coin shops or collectors who are willing to purchase your loose change. While this might not be as convenient as a coin-counting machine, it could be an interesting option if you have valuable or collectible coins.
  • Online Auctions or Selling Platforms: If you believe you have valuable coins, you could explore online auction platforms or selling websites to potentially get more value for your coins than through traditional methods.
  • Charitable Donations: Consider donating your loose change to charity. Many charities accept coin donations and will put the funds to good use.

In summary, while Coinstar might be a widely recognized option, there are several alternatives to explore when it comes to converting loose change into cash or other forms of value. From supermarket coin machines to local banks and digital payment apps, the choice depends on your preferences, location, and whether you’re willing to put in a bit more effort to save on fees.

Where can I cash in coins for free?

Certainly! The process of cashing in coins for free while avoiding Coinstar fees involves a couple of options that offer both convenience and savings.

1. Roll your own coins

The first method involves sorting and packaging your coins into rolls before taking them to your bank for deposit or cash exchange. Although this approach can be time-consuming, it can help you save money compared to using Coinstar. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Sort and Organize: Begin by sorting your coins into different denominations, such as pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters. This process ensures that you’re organized and can easily fill coin rolls.
  • Obtain Coin Rolls: Contact your local bank and request paper coin sleeves. Most banks offer these for free, but you can also purchase them from office supply stores if needed.
  • Fill Coin Rolls: Place the sorted coins into the appropriate paper coin sleeves. For example, a penny roll would contain 50 pennies, a nickel roll would hold 40 nickels, and so on.
  • Visit Your Bank: Once your coin rolls are prepared, visit your bank to deposit them or exchange them for cash. Banks usually provide this service free of charge for their customers.

2. Use a bank’s coin-counting machine

Another option is to utilize a bank that still offers coin-counting machines. These machines automate the counting process, making it convenient and efficient. Here’s how you can make the most of this option:

  • Identify Banks with Coin-Counting Machines: Research and identify banks in your area that offer coin-counting machines. Some banks may provide this service exclusively to their customers, while others might charge a fee for non-customers.
  • Gather Your Coins: Collect all your coins and take them to the bank with the coin-counting machine.
  • Process the Coins: Use the coin-counting machine to automatically tally the value of your coins. Most banks that offer this service to customers usually don’t charge any fees for using the machine.

Comparing costs and considerations

When deciding which method to choose, it’s essential to consider both the potential savings and your personal preferences:

  • For smaller amounts of change, manually rolling coins might be a practical option, as the Coinstar fee could be a significant percentage of your total.
  • If you have a substantial amount of change to cash in, using a coin-counting machine at a bank can save you time and effort.

Ultimately, your decision should weigh the convenience of automation against the time and effort required for manual sorting and rolling. For instance, if you’re dealing with a modest amount of change, it might be more practical to invest the time in rolling your own coins. However, for larger amounts, using a bank’s coin-counting machine could prove to be more efficient and cost-effective.

What banks have coin-counting machines?

The convenience of coin-counting machines has primarily found its place within smaller regional banks and credit unions, as opposed to larger financial institutions. These specialized machines offer the utility of easily converting accumulated coins into usable funds. The following list outlines a selection of banks that provide coin-counting machine services along with their associated terms:

  • American Eagle Financial Credit Union: Coin-counting services are provided free of charge for account-holding customers, whereas non-customers are subject to a 10% fee. However, it’s important to note that this service might not be available at all branch locations.
  • Apple River State Bank: This bank offers complimentary coin-counting machine access for its customers, aiming to streamline the process of converting loose change into more manageable currency.
  • First County Bank: Coin-counting machine usage is free for bank customers, while individuals without accounts are required to pay a 10% fee. This initiative caters to customer convenience and coin management.
  • Hancock County Savings Bank: Customers of this bank are granted the benefit of using coin-counting machines free of charge. This service is designed to aid clients in transforming their spare change into usable funds with ease.
  • JBT: For customers of JBT, the coin-counting service comes at no additional cost. However, non-customers who wish to avail themselves of this service are charged a 5% fee, making it a customer-centric offering.
  • Manasquan Bank: Coin-counting machines are provided to bank customers at no cost. Non-customers, on the other hand, are subject to a 15% fee, making this an incentive for potential customers to consider opening an account with the bank.
  • Shelby Savings Bank: Coin-counting services are provided to bank customers without any charge. These services are accessible specifically at the Center and Hemphill branches, enhancing customer convenience.
  • State Bank of Dekalb: Account-holding customers of this bank can utilize coin-counting machines free of charge. However, it’s important to note that this service is available exclusively at the Texarkana branch.

In summary, these banks have strategically incorporated coin-counting machines into their services, catering to their customer’s needs and preferences. This offering not only facilitates the conversion of coins into more practical forms of currency but also serves as an additional incentive for individuals to engage with these financial institutions.

Is Coinstar accurate?

The accuracy of these machines has been a point of concern in the past due to instances where some machines were found to provide incorrect counts, leading to customers receiving less money than they should have.

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In response to these concerns, some banks like TD Bank have even removed Coinstar machines from their premises. The issues with inaccurate coin counting raised questions about the reliability of these machines and whether customers could trust them to provide accurate value for their coins.

Coinstar addresses these concerns by asserting that their machines go through a comprehensive testing process to ensure high accuracy and reliability. Their website states that these machines undergo rigorous testing to meet strict standards before being placed in retail locations. Additionally, the company employs technicians who regularly service the machines to maintain their accuracy and functionality.

Despite these assurances, individuals who remain wary of potential inaccuracies have a few options to consider. One option is manually rolling and counting their coins before redeeming them through a Coinstar machine. This approach provides a sense of control over the counting process, as the customer has already tallied the coins themselves.

Another alternative is to deposit the coins directly at a bank. While this may take more time and effort compared to using a coin-counting machine, it ensures that the customer’s coins are being counted accurately by bank personnel. Some banks offer coin-counting services to account holders, allowing them to deposit their coins without relying on a third-party machine.

Ultimately, the accuracy of Coinstar machines is a topic that individuals should weigh against their convenience and the level of trust they place in the technology. While the company emphasizes its commitment to accuracy and reliability, customers who are particularly concerned about potential inaccuracies have the option to manually count their coins or explore other methods of coin redemption to ensure they receive the full value of their loose change.

How to save towards a goal using small change

Saving for a goal using small change is a practical and effective way to gradually accumulate funds for a short-term aspiration, whether it’s a well-deserved weekend getaway or a cherished item you’ve been eyeing. This method embraces the concept that even minor amounts can eventually add up to something significant. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of how you can employ this strategy:

  1. Set a Clear Goal: To begin, define the objective you’re saving for. It could be anything from a spontaneous weekend trip to a specific gadget you’ve been wanting. Having a well-defined goal will give your savings a purpose and motivate you to stick with the plan.
  2. Create a Collection Point: Designate a container—a jar, a bowl, or any receptacle—as your change collection point. Place it in a convenient spot, perhaps near your entrance or where you usually empty your pockets or purse. This way, it becomes routine to deposit your spare change into this collection point.
  3. Consistent Deposits: Whenever you make a cash transaction and receive coins as change, make it a habit to immediately drop these coins into your chosen collection container. Even though individual coins might seem insignificant, their collective value will steadily grow over time.
  4. Frequency of Deposits: The frequency of your deposits will depend on how often you engage in cash transactions. If you frequently make purchases with cash, your container could fill up rather quickly. However, even if you primarily use digital payments, intentionally opt for cash on certain occasions to continue feeding your change collection.
  5. Watch Your Accumulation Grow: Over time, you’ll notice your container filling up with an assortment of coins. It’s an exciting visual representation of your progress toward your goal.
  6. Roll or Exchange: Once your container is brimming with coins, you have a couple of options. You can roll the coins yourself—using coin wrappers—to prepare them for depositing in your bank. Alternatively, some banks offer coin counting machines, or you can use services like Coinstar to exchange your coins for bills. This step converts your small change into usable currency for your goal.
  7. Allocate for Your Goal: When you’ve successfully converted your spare change into more manageable currency, allocate it directly toward your goal. Whether it’s booking that weekend getaway or purchasing the desired item, these funds, which may have seemed insignificant at the outset, now play a pivotal role in realizing your objective.
  8. Celebrate Your Achievement: As you achieve your short-term goal through this method, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment. It’s a testament to your commitment to saving, discipline, and the potential for incremental progress.

Incorporating small change into your savings strategy demonstrates the power of consistency and highlights how seemingly trivial actions can lead to meaningful results. This method not only helps you attain your goals but also cultivates a conscious approach to handling your finances.

How much does Coinstar take out of $100?

Coinstar charges a fee for the convenience of quickly converting your loose change into a more manageable form like cash or gift cards.

The fee that Coinstar charges is calculated as a percentage of the total value of the coins you’re exchanging. Currently, the fee rate stands at 12.5 percent. This means that for every $100 worth of coins you feed into the Coinstar machine, they will deduct approximately $12.50 as their fee.

To put it another way, if you were to exchange $100 in coins using a Coinstar machine, you would receive back around $87.50 in cash or in the form of a gift card. This deduction covers the operational costs of maintaining and operating the machines, as well as the convenience they offer.

However, it’s important to note that the actual fee may vary slightly due to rounding or regional differences. Additionally, the fee might change over time, so it’s a good idea to check with Coinstar directly or on their website for the most up-to-date fee information.

To determine how much the Coinstar fee would be for the coins you have accumulated, you’ll need to estimate the total value of your coins and then calculate 11.9 percent of that amount. This can be a helpful step to decide whether the convenience of using Coinstar is worth the fee for you, or if you might consider other methods of counting and exchanging your coins, such as rolling them yourself or using a different service such as a bank.

How much does Coinstar pay for gift cards?

Coinstar operates a network of kiosks designed to convert loose change into cash or digital currency, as well as offering other services like gift card exchange. The Coinstar Gift Card Exchange service allows users to trade in their unwanted or unused gift cards for cash or other forms of value. The exchange rate for gift cards at Coinstar varies depending on several factors.

The Coinstar gift card exchange rate is generally up to 85% of the value of the gift card. This means that if you have a gift card with a face value of $100, Coinstar might offer you up to $85 in exchange for that card. However, it’s important to note that the actual exchange rate can vary based on factors such as the brand of the gift card, its popularity, and current market conditions.

Since each gift card is unique, the exchange rate for different cards will differ. More popular and widely used gift cards from well-known retailers might offer a higher exchange rate compared to less popular or niche brands. Coinstar likely evaluates these factors to determine the exchange rate for each specific gift card.

When using the Coinstar Gift Card Exchange service, you can typically check the exchange rate and the amount you’ll receive before finalizing the transaction. This allows you to decide whether the offered amount is acceptable to you before completing the exchange.

Keep in mind that while the 85% exchange rate is a general guideline, it’s possible that for some gift cards, the rate could be slightly lower based on the factors mentioned earlier. It’s always a good idea to review the specific terms and conditions of the exchange before proceeding to ensure you’re comfortable with the offered rate.

What is the maximum limit on Coinstar?

The maximum daily limit on Coinstar transactions is generally $2,900 except in some states, but it does vary depending on the purchasing location and the specific region. In general, Coinstar provides a daily limit to the amount of money that can be processed through their kiosks for converting coins into other forms of currency or vouchers. The daily limits are as follows:

  • Coinstar Kiosk (Except AZ, OK, NM): In most areas, excluding Arizona (AZ), Oklahoma (OK), and New Mexico (NM), the daily limit for transactions at a Coinstar kiosk is set at $2,900 USD per 24-hour period. This limit applies to the total amount that can be processed, and it’s worth noting that this total can be comprised of multiple vouchers or transactions made within that 24-hour timeframe.
  • Coinstar Kiosk (AZ, OK, NM Only): In specific regions such as Arizona, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, the daily limit for transactions at a Coinstar kiosk is slightly lower, with a cap of $999 USD per 24-hour period. Similar to the first case, this limit pertains to the combined value of all transactions carried out during that day.

These limits are in place to ensure the security and smooth operation of Coinstar kiosks while still providing individuals with a convenient way to exchange their coins for other forms of currency or vouchers. It’s important for users to be aware of these limits when planning their transactions at a Coinstar kiosk and to consider any potential fees or charges associated with the conversion process.

What coins does Coinstar accept?

Coinstar machines, which are commonly found in grocery stores and retail locations across the United States, are designed to accept a wide range of coin denominations. In the context of the United States, these machines offer the convenience of converting loose change into more usable forms of currency or even gift cards. Specifically, Coinstar machines have the capacity to accept coins spanning from one-cent coins to one-dollar coins.

This encompassing acceptance of various coin denominations means that individuals can feed pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, and dollar coins into the machine for processing. The aim is to simplify the process of exchanging these coins, which might otherwise accumulate and become unwieldy.

However, it’s important to note that there are a couple of exceptions to the types of coins that Coinstar machines can handle. One limitation involves 1943 steel cents. These coins are unique due to their composition and historical context, and Coinstar machines typically do not accept them.

Another exception pertains to Eisenhower Dollars. These dollar coins, which feature President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the obverse side, are not accepted by Coinstar machines. This could be due to various reasons, such as their size, weight, or other technical considerations.

In essence, while Coinstar machines do offer a convenient solution for individuals to convert their loose change into more practical forms of currency, such as paper money or electronic gift cards, they do come with specific restrictions. These limitations are generally in place to ensure smooth and accurate processing of the coins and to avoid potential technical issues that might arise from handling certain coin types.