Making Change Count
I brought a bag filled with quarters to pay for my meal at an Italian restaurant recently. I’ve been taking an informal survey of merchants to see who welcomes my coins. Having received a cool reception from the cashier at a gas/convenience store, I modified my coin-paying technique; now I carry quarters in a plastic bag separate from dimes, nickels, and pennies to accelerate sales transactions. When I showed my bag to the restaurant cashier (also the hostess, waitress, and owner’s wife), I was amused and surprised at her gesture.
She reached down and produced a stash of her own, all quarters in a plastic bag, just like mine. Apparently, her husband brings coins home but never, ever uses them. She described her attempts to corral them in one jar but loose change seemed to be wherever he emptied his pockets. Like me, she realized that most of the worth of the coins was in the quarters and they are easily counted and distributed, so they were bagged and stored for use in the very near future. I commiserated with her and then paid with my quarters.
Someone might say that a restaurant or store has to take coins but that’s not true: a merchant can set the guidelines for methods of payment (it is helpful, though, if these guidelines are equally applied to all patrons).
Here are the best places that I’ve found to use coins:
- Restaurants with heavy lunch business (they are often thrilled to replenish their quarter supply)
- Vending machines, especially for snacks and stamps
- Guest fees at pools and fitness centers
- Bus fare
- Parking fees
- Tip jars (or add-ons to currency tips)
- Take a penny, give a penny containers
- Automated car washes
- Yard sales, bake sales, and children’s clothing consignment sales
- Self-service cashier stations at some grocery stores and home improvement stores (pay with coins first and then you can pay the balance with currency or a credit/debit card; if you go to the store at non-peak hours, then you won’t back up the line)
What about the bank or Coinstar? Many banks want you to roll your own (coins), make a deposit, and then let you know if their count equaled yours, at which time your account will be credited. Coinstar gives immediate feedback on the value of your coins but charges a fee unless you convert your money to a gift card or eCertificate. I learned yesterday, however, that my savings and loan does not charge its customers for coin counting. I’ll be hauling my stash via Tupperware or some other container there soon.
Do you have any great ideas for dealing with coins? Share them here.