Best Ways to Count (and Cash in) Your Change
What should you do with your loose change? The easiest way to turn your coins into currency is to let someone (or something) else do it for you. Some banks have coin-counting machines. But pinpointing what banks and which branches have this service isn't always simple. PNC Bank has a search filter to locate one of its coin counters. According to a branch representative, customers get coins counted for free while non-customers pay a 5% fee. Here are other options to consider.
Fast, Free, Easy
Based on my personal experience, calls to branches of large banks, and comments by readers (see this article on spending change), here are some banks that offer free coin counting and exchanges to their customers:
- U.S. Bank
- Regional banks, such as Commerce Bank, Bank Atlantic, and PNC
- Credit Unions (another benefit of credit unions)
- Community Savings Banks such as Salem Five and Piedmont Federal Savings Bank
Certain banks will let you bring the coins to a teller, who processes them and then gives you currency or makes a deposit into your account. Other banks have self-service machines that generate a receipt, which you present to a teller in order to receive cash or add to your bank balance. Before lugging your coins to your favorite financial institution, ask these questions:
- Do you have coin counting machines at your branches, and, if so, which ones?
- Do I operate the machine or do I bring coins to the teller window?
- Is there a coin-counting fee for customers? non-customers?
- How will I get my money?
Free (Mostly), Not Fast
Some banks require you to roll your own coins and bring wrapped coins. These include:
- Bank of America
- Wells Fargo
Get wrappers for free at most bank branches or buy them at a discount store. Rolling coins is time-consuming but a good option if you have no other alternatives. For fun and convenience, buy a small coin-counting machine for home use.
*Generally there is no charge to deposit coins; however Citibank charges a 5% fee to customers and non-customers in Illinois. Note that deposit totals may be adjusted if the bank's count differs from yours.
Some banks will take small amounts of loose change at no charge, even if they do not offer coin counting services. After a fund-raising event, I presented a deposit of over $2,000 at a major regional bank. My deposit contained about $10 in loose change as well as hundreds of one-dollar bills (counted by a machine) and personal checks, carefully totaled beforehand. As treasurer of a non-profit group, I visited this branch frequently to make deposits. There seemed to be no definitive ruling about coin acceptance. The bank employee hesitated but eventually decided to take the coins (the deliberation was slow but coin counting was fast).
Fast, Not Free
Coinstar machines count coins for a fee of 9.8% (11.9% in Canada). These self-service machines can be found in high-volume retailers, such as grocery stores. Deposit coins, watch as change is counted and processing fees are subtracted, and receive a voucher that can be redeemed for the value of the coins (less the service fee) at the store.
To avoid the fee, redeem the coins for an eCertificate, gift card, or charitable donation. Sign up online to receive special offers, which may include receiving more than the value of the coins. A current offer, for example, exchanges a $25 eCertificate and $5 bonus for Rixty for $25 in coins.
Options vary by location so check out which services are offered (see this Coinstar locator) before you turn in your coins.
Have you had successes or problems when trying to cash in loose coins?