Best Ways to Count (and Cash in) Your Change

By Julie Rains on 29 March 2011 (Updated 2 September 2013) 22 comments
Photo: J Aaron Farr

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. (See also: Top Online Savings Accounts Reviewed)

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:

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
  • Citibank*

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?

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Guest's picture
Christie Struck

Be careful when you take it to the bank--my dad took $300 in change (yep, he counted it) to the bank to deposit into his account. He had rolled a portion of the change, as is recommended, but the cashier just dumped the entire bag into the counting machine and told him he had $242.50. When he told them he had $300 and there was a mistake, they told him that the machine had counted it and he had made the mistake, somehow counting over $57 in error. He wanted the change back, but they could not give it back as it had gone into a big hopper with other change. He asked to see the manager, who told him again that HE had made an error of $57.50, and my dad persuaded them to check the machine. They finally did as he requested, then sheepishly returned to report that there was exactly $57.50 in a bag that the machine couldn't count since it was rolled and in a separate bag that they cashier hadn't noticed. Make sure you know what you have, or all that saving could be in vain!!

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for sharing your story. I figured most banks wouldn't put loads of effort into verifying amounts (that's what the machines are for) but I hadn't considered major machine glitches -- so it does pay to know how much you are depositing, even if it is time-consuming to count.

Guest's picture
Olivia

We've used the free counting machine at Commerce with no real problems. The machine prints out a receipt and that amount can be deposited into your account. We were shorted once by their count (a dime) and I noticed when they cleared out the machine a few coins missed the "funnel" and were stuck on a ledge. Otherwise I think it's a fairly respectable system.

Julie Rains's picture

Glad to hear you have had good experiences with Commerce. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Guest's picture
Guest

If you live near a casino, many of them have coin counting machines. Just remember to make a bee-line for the exit after you cash in your coins so you don't spend the money in the casino.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for adding to the list of places to take coins. The closest casino to me is a few hours away but I'll check it out if I happen to be in the area.

Guest's picture
kh

I've actually set myself a challenge for this year to keep all of my change gathered over the month in a vase on my dresser and to cash it in at the end of each month. My credit union will run it through the machine and deposit it in my savings account for no fee. I have put a chart on my blog sidebar to keep track of how much I accumulate in change each month and at the end of the year I'll make plans for it, depending on how much I have. I'm kind of enjoying the idea of seeing how much my loose change comes to!

Guest's picture
Dynamene

Just use your change and you will never have more then a dollar's worth in your pocket.

Guest's picture
kh

The problem with just using the change is that it's easy to spend several dollars a day in change and never track it. I specifically want to know how much I'm actually spending in change.

Guest's picture

Once or twice a year I hit up the Coinstar machine when they're having a promo. I don't know if they ever do one for Amazon, but I've gotten an extra $10 for iTunes when cashing in $40 or more. There's no fee for getting a gift card or code, and free $ is free $.

Guest's picture
Ian

I just ask my bank for coin wrappers (or you can purchase them at walmart or other stores) then roll my change myself. It doesn't take long and can be fun (I do it with my girlfriend in front of the TV) and that way you really keep all your change without paying out any service fees.

Guest's picture
CS

FYI, if you are a Bank of America customer, you can get coin counting free. Stop in a branch and ask for a coin bag. They are free and made of heavy, clear plastic... similar to a giant sandwich bag. There is a spot for your account information. Fill it up with your coins, seal it, and put your information on the bag. Then drop it off at your branch. The teller will have you fill out a deposit slip with your estimate of the amount. They will then send the bag to a regional facility and in about 2 weeks, either debit or credit your account, depending on how far off your estimate was from the actual total. I did this at my branch in Los Angeles in October last year.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks for the tip. I called one of the BofA branches in Charlotte and was told that change needed to be rolled -- but that they would trust my word for the amount. I am thinking that different branches may have different approaches; also I will mention that commercial accounts have different rules than personal ones.

Guest's picture
Guest

Bank of America's policy seems to vary by the day. I work at a restaurant and end up with a lot of loose change, and to ensure deposit accuracy, I count out and roll all of it. The first time I attempted depositing coins at BofA, I had $200 (20 rolls) of quarters. Before I even got in line, the woman at the door informed me that I needed to purchase a coin bag for $5 if I wanted to deposit more than 5 rolls. I declined, deposited 5 rolls with no charge, plus the rest of my folding cash, and left. The next day, I went back to the bank with 5 more rolls and questioned the teller, who told me that as long as they were rolled, I could deposit up to $100. For several weeks after that, I deposited rolled coins in amounts up to $100 with no fee and no problem. Today, I took 7 rolls of quarters to Bank of America to deposit, and the teller told me that I couldn't deposit any of it without buying that stupid coin bag. It seems kind of retarded that after meticulous effort in sorting, counting, and rolling my change, they would charge me $5 to unroll, recount, and re-roll it. If it was a large amount, I could understand the need to verify accuracy, but seriously? You need to send 7 rolls to a counting center, charge me $5, and still take up to three weeks to make my deposit available? I'll be switching banks very soon.

Guest's picture
Guest

I recently deposited at a BoA branch and was told there was no fee involved with loose coin deposit for personal accounts. I had counted the change beforehand and when it was deposited to the account, there was a 15% difference. I have been getting the run around and have had issues with disputing it. In a nutshell, even if coinstar charges a fee, you are better off. The bank can claim any amount in the bag, and you are left with your word against theirs. Thanks for the info about the casinos!

Guest's picture

You say to skip the fee you can donate the coins to charity... but Coinstar still takes out a reduced fee of 7.5%... which seems very high! I would rather see people donate cash directly to an organization rather than doing it through Coinstar

Guest's picture
Guest

Most Casinos have Fast and Free coin counters. If you have the discipline to leave right after using it.

Guest's picture
CJ

I live in a small town and we have a satellite branch near my house. They prefer that you don't roll change. But they do let me drop off a bag of change with a blank deposit slip in the morning and they put it through the machine when it gets slow and then deposit it to my account. The receipt shows up in my mailbox the next day. No charges and they haven't messed up yet.

Guest's picture

I roll my own sans the machine. We don't have a branch close enough to us to justify it, but we get the rolls for free from the bank!

That's a good point, Christie Struck! I trust my own counting abilities over a machine any day.

Guest's picture
Edward

I've read blog posts on PF sites where the person says it really isn't "worth their time" rolling pennies because they could be making more per hour doing many other actvities. I do it while watching TV or during a brainless movie. Time when I normally wouldn't be doing anything with my hands anyway. It's odd because rolling coins actually becomes sort of zen for me after I've been doing it for an hour--it's somehow relaxing. So, there's not only a small financial benefit, but a small psychological benefit for me with that activity.

Julie Rains's picture

Thanks Edward, glad you enjoy this task. As for me, I used to like rolling coins but I am out of practice now and so enjoy taking the coins to my bank, where they count it for free.

Guest's picture
Guest

I tried depositing a bag of coins today at Chase and was told they did not have a change counter, nor did any local branch. "A bank w/o a means to count loose change?" That's an oxymoron. "You are a bank that handles currency whether it's cash or coin... correct? Then I should be able to deposit posse coins, no matter how many. Until coins are no longer an accepted means of currency, banks should be required to have the means to count change for it's customers". Period!