This article was originally published on May 16, 2011.
Coinstar machines, are they a rip off or not? Well, it depends on your point of view.
You’ve undoubtedly seen these Coin Star machines at your local grocery store. The concept seems genius. It solves a problem many people have.
People have coins, but people want bills. The machine accepts your loose change and gives you dollars (a receipt that you take to the clerk and then you get your money).
You didn’t think this service was free though, did you? They charge 11.9%. This means that if you bring in a big jar full of $100 you’ll only get back $88.10.
So is this savvy business idea a great service or a huge rip-off?
They’re Ripping You Off
While Coinstar does indeed provide a useful service, it is also a ripoff. So what can we do? Just say no!
Coins are real money. You can pay with coins. At the grocery store, you can, but don’t have to pay a $12.43 tab with coins, but you sure can pay the 43 cents in coins.
By continually doing this, at the department store, fast food line, liquor store, etc., you can reduce the amount of coins you have and save some money along the way.
But what if you have a lot of coins, more coins than you can ever dream of getting rid of? There’s a quicker option to turn your coins into cash.
You can take them to your bank and they’ll exchange them for bills without even charging you a dime!
Every bank is different. Some banks will only accept coins from their customers only though.
For the most part, the way it works is simple. You go to the bank and ask for coin wrappers: for pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.
Next, you’ll have to count and sort them out yourself. Does this take more time? Yes, but if you have enough time to read this post then you have enough time to take your coins to the bank.
When your coins are ready, take them to your bank and they’ll either give you large bills or simply deposit them into your account.
2017 Update: But… But… It’s Worth It!
When this article was first published in 2011 I laughed at people who would willfully be ripped off by Coinstar machines.
But now my outlook on life, and Coinstar machines, has changed.
Rather than care so much about every penny, the new me cares more about things that truly matter in life. Namely, that would be time and family.
In the process of simplifying my life, I now will choose speed and convenience over saving a few bucks.
I’m proud to say that I’ve used Coinstar machines several times and have not regretted using them at all. In fact, I now look forward to it!
I try and only use a credit card for purchases, just for ease of use and to track my spending. But every now and again I use a bill and sure enough end up with a bunch of spare change.
I put my change in a jar and wait until it gets full. It takes about a full year for my coin jar to really fill up to the top.
Then I head over to a Coinstar machine I have nearby and drop my coins in. Within seconds, I get my total. But here’s how I refuse to get ripped off:
Coinstar now has no-fee gift cards available where the company pays the Coinstar fee for you.
Since I always shop at Amazon for everyday items like paper towels, dog food and cleaning supplies, redeeming my coins for an Amazon credit is a no-brainer.
So now it’s your turn. How do you feel about Coinstar machines? Have you used them before or would you ever use them?