Do you have a jar somewhere in your room filled with spare coins? Most of us do.
While it can be a painless way to let cash accrue and save for things like a vacation or debt snowflaking, turning that change in can be a real pain, especially if you are hit with fees. However, there are ways to avoid the fees and the inconvenience of counting and rolling your own change.
1. Check with your bank. Your bank may have a change counting machine. All you need to do is lug in your change and the bank employee runs it through the machine and gives you your dollar bills back. Before you load up the car with pounds of pennies, make sure you call your bank first. Our bank has a change counting machine at one branch only, so I have to drive a bit to turn in the change. Then, the change machine is often full thanks to restaurants and bars that bring in their change, too, so I always have to call ahead to make sure the change counting machine has been emptied recently. Most credit unions still offer this service as well as a handful of banks.
2. Get gift cards from CoinStar. CoinStar has little green change counting machines conveniently located at many grocery stores. However, if you opt for cash back, you will get hit with a whopping 9.8% fee, meaning if you cash in $100, you will only walk away with $90.20. However, there is a simple way around this fee–just opt for a gift card instead. CoinStar offers plenty of gift cards including
Starbucks, Papa John’s, Cub Foods, Jewel-Osco, Gap, and JC Penney, just to name a few. They have 40 gift cards to choose from. Use them for yourself or save them to buy holiday presents for others. Check CoinStar’s website to determine what locations have the gift cards you would like because not all gift cards are available at all locations.
3. “Sell” your change to a friend. Have a friend or co-worker who has to use the laundromat or needs to feed parking meters frequently? Why not sell him your quarters? You get paper cash, and he gets change for the washing machine and dryer or meters without having to make a separate trip to the bank. Win-win for both parties.
4. Turn them in to a small business you frequent. This may not work for everyone, but if you have a small business you frequent, the business owner may consider taking your rolled change in exchange for paper cash. You would need a good relationship, and the business owner would need to trust you. Also, you will have to take the time to count and package the change, too.
Keeping your spare change can be a good way to save for a long-term goal such as a vacation or money to apply to your debt down payment. While it used to simply be a matter of counting and rolling your coins and taking them to the bank, turning in change is a bit more difficult now, but there are still ways to do it fee free.
What other strategies do you use to turn in your change for free?