The Money Hack for Using the Local Coinstar for FREE

Updated Nov 22, 2019 | Chris Petrie

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Looking to learn how to bypass the Coinstar fee and save money?

It always feels like free money since I’m never actively thinking about cashing in my jar of loose change. Only once my jar is full and heavy, do I realize that it’s time to finally empty and collect my money.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself (or Google), where are the coin machines near me?  

However, during your research you may find that Coinstar charges a whopping 12% in fees!


Lucky for you, we have the answer to avoiding Coinstar fees altogether.

Avoiding the Coinstar Fee

If you don’t feel like counting coins one-by-one and then rolling them in those difficult paper rollers, you may want to consider Coinstar as a great alternative.

What is Coinstar?

You know those giant green machines found near the checkout of just about every grocery store in America? These machines allow you to dump all of your loose change into them and then it will count your change for you in a matter of seconds. However, there is a fee associated with the convenience of the machine.

What are the Coinstar Fees?

Coinstar charges a convenience fee of 11.9%! That means for every $100 of coins you put through the machine, you only get to keep $88 of it.

Is it worth it to use Coinstar? That answer is completely up to you, but there is a hack to workaround those hefty convenience fees.

The Hack to Avoiding the 12% Coinstar Fee

If you want to bypass the high fees that come with using Coinstar, there are few hacks you need to know about.

Instead of choosing to get paid out in dollar bills, you can choose to get paid out in Amazon gift cards and bypass the fees associated with Coinstar.

The minimum amount to receive an Amazon e-gift card is $5.00, with a maximum of $1,000.

But, if you’re not an Amazon shopper like me, there is one last option if you’re in a location within a Wal-Mart and some other retailers. You can get your receipt and use the funds toward purchase at Walmart or participating store. While I didn’t see much info online I know I’ve personally used this option at Walmart and Kroger stores in the past.

Donate Your Cash With Coinstar

While the nearly 12% fees still eat most of us, Coinstar does offer another positive alternative to using their services. You can now donate your coins directly to one of the seven charities they have partnered with.

The best part? They don’t charge you the nearly 12% fee!

Not to mention you are donating to a cause you believe in. Plus, it’s a tax write off so it’s a win-win-win!

Charities That Partner with Coinstar

Here’s a quick summary of the main charities that Coinstar has partnered with:

  1. Feeding America: A nationwide network with 200 food banks that help fight hunger in the United States.
  2. American Red Cross: The American Red Cross is where people mobilize to help their neighbors in emergencies whether across the street or across the world.
  3. WWF (World WIldlife Foundation): This charity helps stop the degradation of the environment to help protect and restore animals natural habitats
  4. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 member hospitals that provide 32 million treatments each year to kids across the U.S. and Canada.
  5. United Way: Each donation helps fight for education, health, and financial stability for others in the community.
  6. UNICEF: This charity works in more than 190 countries to save and improve children’s lives by providing health care, clean water, and nutrition.
  7. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society: They are dedicated to finding more effective treatments and cures for blood cancers so patients can live a longer life.

Who knew that your spare change could be easily contributed to helping such great causes around the world? One thing to note, not all of the charities listed above are available on every kiosk. Make sure to check online to ensure you can donate to the charity of your choice.

Also, make sure to keep your receipt. Donations like these one are 100% tax deductible and want to keep the receipt for your future taxes.

Lastly, you might not have noticed that there is one other option besides an Amazon e-card or certificate. If you’re not a huge Amazon shopper or want to put your spare change to a good cause you have one other option.

How to Use Coinstar

Using Coinstar is pretty straight forward to cash in your spare change. At the kiosk, make sure to check e-gift card for Amazon, cash, or if you want to donate the money. Add your coins to the machine and wait until it is done counting them.

If you have any coins that aren’t accepted or foreign objects accidentally inserted, the coin dispenser will spit them back out in a slot below. Once the machine is done counting you will receive the cash, store certificate or Amazon e-gift card receipt.

Make sure to not lose that receipt it’s small and I’m not sure they have any way to help if you end up losing it.

Now, Is Using Coinstar Safe?

Machines never fail, right? Well, that’s not always the case. When using any coin machine there is always room for error.

A story ran back in 2016 about a TD Ameritrade kiosk being off by $44 off from a $300 total. That’s a huge amount of money you’re not getting back!

Coinstar does appear to be the leader in the coin machine industry and released this statement after people began doubting the coin machines after the 2016 ABC investigation. Here’s what they said:

“Its number one goal is to provide its customers with a satisfying and reliable experience…it has refined technology and implemented regular maintenance schedules to service, clean, calibrate and test the machines to ensure reliability and high accuracy levels…rigorous testing has delivered extremely accurate coin counting and more than 95% machine uptime.”

Finding A Coinstar Near Me?

You can find Coinstar machine at most grocery locations but make sure to check out their locations page here.

Here is a list of the most common stores to help you find a coin machine near you:

  • Albertsons
  • Kmart Super Centers
  • Kroger (This includes a ton of brands underneath it including Fry’s Food and Drug, Pay Less Super Markets, Ralphs, Food 4 Less, Foods Co, and others)
  • Lowes
  • Rays Food Places
  • Target Superstores (these are bigger than normal Target stores and include a full grocery selection as well)
  • The Food Emporium
  • Walmart

Why Use Coinstar?

After reading about cashing your coins in a bank Coinstar takes away a lot of the frustration by making it simple and convenient. You don’t have to roll up your coins and make a separate trip to the bank. You can save gas money and combine the experience with a normal trip to your store.

The Future of Coinstar

While Amazon e-gift cards and donations are great the options are kind of limited. Especially since they used to have 5-7 different e-card options until 2018. But Coinstar is about to roll another feature later this year that is a huge benefit for you.

Coinstar and Doxo announced a partnership in April of 2018 that will allow you to pay some of your bills with the kiosk. Through this partnership, you will be able to pay bills including utilities, phone, car loans, cable, certain types of insurance, and more. All of this will be done using your spare change at up to 7,000 Coinstar kiosks by the end of 2018.

Not to mention, Doxo is a huge company so you will probably have access to at least one or two monthly bills that you are already paying. Doxo has a crowd sourced directory of more than 45,000 local and national billers.

The Banks

Did you know that not all banks actually accept coins anymore?

Yes, a government-backed entity like a huge bank doesn’t always accept your legal tender! How crazy is that? Is it even legal? I didn’t go too far down that rabbit hole but this seems ridiculous.

While some banks do have coin cashing machines in the lobby, they are usually reserved only for account holders. Typically, you have to enter your debit card and PIN before it will actually allow you to get cash for your coins. Even if they do have a coin machine it might not always be free, even if you bank with them!

Then there are banks like TD Bank which charges you a fee to use the machine. It’s hard to believe it’s so much effort to get cash for your coins even at banks.

Banks That Accept Rolled Coins

As you can see the list of banks that don’t accept coins that aren’t rolled isn’t many! Most banks choose to only accept them if you have them properly rolled.

This usually means you have to buy the device to help roll or do it manually. Most of the banks will provide wrappers for free but some of the banks will still charge a fee!

1. Bank of America

  • No fees for Bank of America customers
  • No fees for non-Bank of America customers

2. Chase Bank

  • No fees for Chase Bank customers with an unlimited amount
  • No fees for non-Chase Bank customers until $200. Anything above there are fees which weren’t disclosed online

3. BB&T

  • Fees vary for BB&T customers. They are free for under $25; 5% for more than $25
  • 10% Fees for non-BB&T customers (Yes, 10% at a bank!)

4. Cape Bank

  • No fees for Cape Bank customers
  • No fees for non-Cape Bank customers (and uncapped total amount unlike others on the list)

5. Citibank

  • No fees for Citibank customers unless you live in the state of Illinois in which there is a 5% of the total amount
  • No fees for non-Citibank customers unless you live in the state of Illinois in which there is a 5% of the total amount (Sorry Chicago readers)

6. Home State Bank

  • No fees for Home State Bank customers
  • 10% Fees for non-Home State Bank customers. Yikes, might as well head to Coinstar or a credit union for that price

7. JBT

  • No fees for JBT customers
  • 5%fees for non-JBT customers

8. Manasquan Bank

  • No fees for Manasquan Bank customers
  • 5% Fees for non-Manasquan Bank customers

9. Shelby Savings Bank

  • No fees for Shelby Savings Bank customers
  • 5% of the total amount for non-Shelby Savings Bank customers

10. U.S. Bank

  • No fees for U.S. Bank customers
  • No fees for non-U.S. Bank customers

11. Wells Fargo

  • No fees for Wells Fargo customers
  • No fees for non-Wells Fargo customers

12. People’s United Bank

  • No fees for People’s United Bank if you’re a customer
  • Unknown fees if you’re not a customer

13. Umpqua Bank (Pacific Northwest)

  • If you’re a customer they do not charge and coins don’t have to be rolled.
  • Unknown fees if you’re not a customer

If you don’t have any luck finding one of these locations near you, make sure to search for smaller banks and credit unions.

Credit Unions

If you’re not familiar there is a big difference between credit unions and banks, especially big banks like Chase and Bank of America. While banks have customers (and sometimes shareholders), credit unions are membership based. Once you get accepted based to the affiliation of the credit union you can become a member.

Credit unions tend to have more personalized service and don’t give you as much grief for want cash for your change! If you are a member, most of the bigger credit unions won’t charge you any fees. This is definitely one of the biggest perks of using credit unions!

And some credit unions have Coinstar type of machines that will allow you to give them your change without having to spend time rolling them.This is a huge time and money saver for you. Some credit unions do allow non-members to take advantage of their kiosks but they charge around 9-10%. Still a high rate but ultimately lower than Coinstar if you want cash.

Credit unions are also a great fit if you’ve had problems getting loans or credit cards due to a low credit score. They are much more likely to work with you than big banks.

If you don’t want the work of rolling your coins and finding a bank or credit union it’s time to learn about Coinstar.

Other Ways to Use Your Spare Change

If you’re not a fan of rolling coins, using Amazon, or paying 12% in fees, there a few lesser known options to best utilize your spare change.

Acorns App

Acorns is the free app that takes your spare change and not only saves it for you, but invests it for you using roundups from use on any of your debit or credit cards.

If you would like to see exactly how it works, you can check out our Acorns app review which explains in detail how Acorns works and why microinvesting is becoming wildly popular.

Self-Checkout to Pay for Normal Items

This is a method that you might love or hate. Personally, I always get frustrated when people using self-checkouts and are slow. To me, it kind of defeats the purpose entirely.

But, this method does let you save money so I understand. Instead of having to roll your coins for the bank or lose money to Coinstar, just pay for items with coins in the self-checkout.

You won’t have to pay any fees and can easily use self-checkouts at most grocery or retail stores. Maybe keep the total to a minimum not to hold up the line with $50 of spare change.

Find and Sell Rare Coins

I’ll admit this step requires a little more and is kind of a side hustle as much as anything else. Before you decide to use one of these options for your coins, double check to see if you have rare coins.

Sometimes you will be able to find coins that are of more value than the actual amount! Again, I want to preface that this will take more effort on your end and certainly not for every reader.

Here are some of the most common coins you can look for and potentially earn some extra money:

  • A buffalo nickel (this has a Native American and a buffalo on either side of the coin)
  • A penny made before 1982. This means the coin is 95% copper and worth more money!
  • A quarter, nickel, or dime minted prior to 1964. If it is prior to 1964 that means the coin contains silver and worth more money.

Plus if you have any older coins you can always go to a dealer and see if they are worth more to you than sitting in storage.

Donate to a Local Charity

If you don’t want to make a separate trip to find a Coinstar or don’t like the limited options you can always choose to donate your change. Religious institutions, community center, and the Salvation Army are among a few that will accept your donations. If you have international coins from your travels some of these places will also accept them as well.

Final Thoughts

Back in the day, this wasn’t something you needed to ask. Instead, you could just go to your local bank, get cash, and go about your day. Sadly, it’s just not the case anymore when it comes to trading your spare change for cash.

While getting money is always nice, it’s getting harder and harder to get 100% of your change converted to cash. With banks, machines, and high fees, you normally only get a fraction of your money. A lot of cases you only get around 90% of your “free money” after expenses!

It’s a shame that banks and our financial system have made it so difficult for people to get money for legal tender. What’s the point of having a piggy bank if you can only collect 90% of what you save? Probably not a great example from our financial institutions to teach our youth.

Maximize Your Change

But there are some alternatives to help you maximize your change for the full amount. This article will help you minimize those fees and find the best ways to get started.

Start clearing out your couch cushions, car consoles, and every random area of your house. With these methods, you can finally start using that change for something you actually need!

In today’s digital world coins and cash seem to be used less and less. Inevitably you will end up with spare coins that you need to cash out eventually. Besides, it’s not like you’re collecting interest on coins that are scattered throughout your life.

There are plenty of options to get started. Whether you roll your coins and take them to your local bank or take the fees and use Coinstar. And for quick purchases at the grocery store you can always carry your spare change with you. While it is a little of bit of work, every penny counts when it comes to meeting your financial goals!

Hopefully, this helps you deal with coin machines, fees, and the other hassles when finding a coin machine. Make sure you remember to check your Coinstar in 2019 so you can use your spare change to help you pay for your monthly bills.

What method do you use for dealing with spare change? Do you prefer the old school method of rolling them or the convenience of Coinstar?

Let us know in the comments and happy free coin rolling!

Chris Peach Author 150x150

Chris Petrie

Chris (Peach) Petrie is a personal finance expert, money coach, speaker and podcaster.

In 2011, Chris and his family were exhausted from living paycheck-to-paycheck and facing a mountain of debt. They started going against the society standards of misbehaving with money and made the decision to take back control of their lives and money. Within seven months they paid off $52,000, started saving like crazy and began building real wealth.

The word spread fast and Chris started showing friends how to create a budget over dinner. Soon after he started showing their friends how to do the same and eventually Chris started teaching personal finance classes around the community. As the need for the classes grew, Chris launched Money Peach in 2015.

Money Peach was created to help everyday people remove the stress and fear of money by showing them how to save more, make more, and keep more of their money.

Chris Peach has been featured in places like Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Elite Daily, and CheddarTV.

When Chris isn’t at “work” he can be found at the Crossfit gym or riding on the fire truck — Chris is also a full-time firefighter in Phoenix, Arizona.


  • I usually try to keep the “Wheat” pennies when I find them. Usually, I put pennies in the spare change jar and never think twice about them. I’ll need to start looking for the pre-1982 mint date.

    Thankfully, my local credit union still doesn’t charge a fee to members for their coin counting machine.

  • I wish I knew this information a while back because I used to use the Coinstar off and on @ PathMark. I have no shame in my game humbling myself and cashing in pennies! 🙂

  • I don’t ordinarily comment but I gotta say regards for the post on this one :D.

    • I appreciate you for taking the time to leave a comment 🙂 So many people don’t realize the little hacks to Coinstar!


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