If you’re getting ready for vacation, the holidays, or want to splurge without breaking your budget, the perfect go-to is to cash in coins you’ve been saving in your piggy bank or coin jar. Which means you’re wondering, where can I change my coins for cash for free?
If you’re using cash envelopes to budget, (or a cash wallet system) you’ll have a lot of coins. (Like, a year’s worth of mortgage payments worth of coins.) There are plenty of options to convert coins to cash for free without paying a ridiculous service fee. These are the best places to take your spare change for cold hard cash are grocery stores with a coin machine, your local credit union, or the local branch of your bank.
Not to mention – since COVID has struck, we’re in a coin shortage here, people. It’s a good idea to cough up your own coins and get rid of that small change, especially if you don’t want to have to physically hand it to a clerk next time you’re at the grocery.
What Banks have Free Coin Counting Machines?
As a matter of fact, each bank varies so much that you need to call ahead to make sure you’re not wasting your time. Even between branches of the same bank, you can find differences in their policies.
During your call with the bank teller, here’s what you should ask about making coin deposits:
- Do they have a coin counting machine?
- Is it free, or do you charge a small fee?
- Are coin deposits only allowed for account holders at that particular bank?
If your local bank doesn’t have a free coin counting machine, you can ask if they’ll accept rolled coins. Again, if this is the case, ask:
- Is there a fee?
- Do you need to be a member to bring in rolled change?
Usually, banks without a coin counting machine will accept rolled change. However, don’t bank on it (see what I did there?).
A lot of national banks have gotten rid of their coin counting machines altogether, including Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, Citibank, Chase, PNC Bank, TD Bank, and more. For the best experience, your best bet will be to look for coin counting machines at community banks and credit unions that cater to small businesses.
If you choose to roll your coins, you can try cashing in small amounts at various banks. Again, the policies will vary so always call ahead before you lug your mountain of change in and risk hurting your back for nothing!
Consider Opening an Account
Depending upon how much change you have and how often you need to exchange it, it could be worth it to open a savings account with a bank that accepts loose change.
While fewer people might opt for this, if it saves your time and energy and you get to avoid fighting with coin wrappers when you open an account at a bank has a coin counting machine. Just be sure that they don’t charge any monthly fees and don’t need a minimum amount in the account to keep it open. Those items could negate any advantages of opening and using the account.
What bank can I cash my coins for free?
|Bank||Need to be a Customer||Accepts Coins or Rolls||Fee|
|People’s United Bank||Yes||Coin rolls||No fee|
|Bank of America||Yes||Coin rolls only||No fee|
|Citibank||Depends on state||Coin rolls only||Charges fee at different locations; call for more info|
|US Bank||Yes||Loose coins||No fee|
|Wells Fargo||Yes||Coin rolls only||No fee|
|Credit Unions||Yes||Varies; call ahead||Varies; call ahead|
|Local Banks||Varies||Varies; call ahead||Varies; call ahead|
Where to Get Free Coin Wrappers
If you’ve found a local bank or credit union that will take your rolled coins, ask them for paper wrappers. Most banks will give free coin wrappers to just anyone, whether they’re a member or not.
The banks listed above – People’s United Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, and your local credit unions – will more than likely provide free coin wrappers, since that’s the format they prefer. The tell should be able to provide you with as many as you need.
If you can’t find a bank that gives coin wrappers out for free by some weird twist of fate, you can always hit up a Dollar Tree, Dollar Store, or Amazon for them. While it’s an additional cost, it shouldn’t be much.
Dollar Stores sell them in packs of 36 for a dollar. Plus, they’re the nicer ones that have that are round and not flattened, so they’re much less difficult to fill.
What to do if You Can’t Find a Bank that will Accept Change
With fewer and fewer banks accepting change these days, you might want to find alternative free coin exchanges. Other free coin counting options include:
1. Get your Kids in on the Action
Pay your kids for doing chores with coins. They can then use them at arcades or spend it however they want. My kids are a lot more patient than I am and willingly use coins to pay for purchases. Of course, their purchases are also usually smaller. I can’t imagine buying a cart of groceries with rolls of quarters and pennies!
When I was in high school, my parents owned a vending machine business. Before they bought a coin counter for use at home, my siblings and I would count and roll the change.
I didn’t mind it, but it was time-consuming. And, my parents didn’t pay us, so I guess you could say that that’s another free option. Make it into a game and have your kids roll your loose coins. Or, offer them a percentage of the take for their help. You can also find plastic coin counters that will help speed up the process and make rolling the change from the change jar even easier.
2. Visit the Casino
Some casinos will take coins at the cage, no questions asked. You might have to dump your change into one of their coin cups, but they’re usually lying around everywhere anyway. Just make sure you don’t end up turning around and spending it on the slot machines!
3. Use a Self Checkout Kiosk
It’s an easy way to use up your change every time you run to the store to grab something quick. Some stores that have self checkout include:
- Food Lion
- Fred Meyer
- Giant Eagle
- Home Depot
- Whole Foods
Most stores today have some form of self checkout, and it can be easier to use coins there, rather than handing them off to a cashier to count through.
4. Visit a local QuikTrip Gas Station
Remember how there’s a crazy coin shortage going on? QuikTrip is letting the public know that they’re more than happy to have you pay for your purchases in coins to help get them recirculated. You can read more in a quick interview with their spokesperson here.
4. Hit a Publix Grocery Store
Publix grocery stores do have coin counting machines similar to Coinstar available at the front of every store. These machines will take a 10% fee, but it’s easy than counting and rolling them all yourself!
5. Use Coinstar Machines
Even though all these other methods work, the best way to get that change counted is to use coin machines known as Coinstar. Coinstar’s coin-counting machines are in the lobbies of various groceries, retail stores, drug stores, and even some banks.
How much is the Coinstar fee?
Currently, Coinstar’s fee is a painfully whopping 11.9% if you want to cash out your coins for paper money. Ouch.
However – don’t despair, you can still exchange coins for cashfor free near you. The Coinstar Kiosk also offers e-gift card options that allow you to avoid that fee. The gift cards are for popular places, so you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with a card you’ll never use.
Wondering is Coinstar free at Walmart? It doesn’t matter where the machine is located, it’s which option you pick as to whether ou pay the exchange fee or not.
The best part about using Coinstar? It’s the easy way to get your coins counted, without having to do it yourself. To use Coinstar, throw your change into the Coinstar machine, and sit back as the machine counts your change. Then, once your coins are processed, you’ll be given the following options:
- Cash-out and get paper money (which will include Coinstar fee)
- Choose an egift card that will print out on paper (no fee – your best option)
- Apply your amount to your Amazon Balance (you can use this instead of a debit or credit card at Amazon)
- Donate your change to a charity (Coinstar has several different charitable donations that you can directly donate to through their machine)
If you choose the second or third option, you will be able to change your coins for cash for free. The following gift card options should be available at any Coinstar locations:
|Gift Card||Minimum Amount||Maximum Amount|
|Chili’s Grill & Bar||$5.00||$100.00|
|Gap (can be redeemed at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta stores)||$10.00||$500.00|
|The Home Depot||$5.00||$2000.00|
Luckily, your local store often has a Coinstar. And with a limit of $2,000 per transaction, you’re likely be just fine making one trip. Some of the stores where you can find Coinstar include:
- Cash Wise
- City Markets
- Food 4 Less
- Food Lion
- Giant Eagle
- Harris Teeter
- King Soopers
- Shop ‘N Save
- The Food Emporium
- Tom Thumb
- Winn Dixie
While this is in no way an extensive list of all of the CoinStar locations, you can quickly find the store locations by using the locator on the coinstar website here.
Strangely, it’s nearly impossible to find any Coinstart competitors, possibly due to consumers moving away from using cash.
The only Coinstar alteratives I could find were financial institutions, and they seem to be handling coins to cash less often.
Other Ideas for Your Spare Change
Make sure to keep change with you and use it at self-checkout kiosks. There are still a lot of places where you can use quarters to make a purchase, like air machines for tires, candy machines, vending machines, and the like.
1. Donate it.
There are always many opportunities where you can drop some change for charity. Think Salvation Army at Christmas or the change jars at checkout counters. Coinstar also has an option to donate your change to charities when you cash it in.
Coinstar’s available charities will vary by the machine’s locations, but they can include:
- American Red Cross
- Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
- Feeding America
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
- The Humane Society
- Unicef USA
- United Way
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
2. Make some art or gift your coins to someone else.
When I was in high school, my grandma went through a phase where every present she gave us was a piece of art made out of change.
She did all sorts of crazy designs by arranging and gluing down change to cardboard and using bills folded into various shapes. (I’m pretty sure it took me longer to pick the coins off and soak the glue off than it did for her to come up with a design and create it though!)
While you don’t have to be crazy creative to gift your change, it’s one way to get rid of it and give a gift at the same time. Two birds with one stone, right?
Now that you know your options for cashing in your coins, make sure to use them for something good – like debt payoff, a vacation, building an emergency fund, or adding it to Dave Ramsey sinking funds. While a lot of people don’t think that coins can add up to much of anything, you’d be surprised how much all that change can help you out!
Need to find quarters for laundry, parking meters, or drinking games? Here’s where to find quarters – especially during a coin shortage.
Did I miss any places where can I change my coins for cash for free? If so, let me know in the comments below!