Coinstar Fees: How To Avoid Them and Get the Most Back

ARLINGTON, VA, USA - OCTOBER 5, 2019: COINSTAR KIOSK at grocery store location.
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Are you wondering how much of a fee Coinstar takes for trading your coins for cash? Coinstar’s fee is currently 11.9% of the value of the coins you’re exchanging, but you can avoid the fee by converting the funds to a gift card. The only issue with this option is that you can only choose from a limited selection of e-gift cards to participating retailers and restaurants.

Fortunately, there are other ways to avoid the Coinstar fee, or at the very least, reduce how much Coinstar takes.

How Can I Use Coinstar Without a Fee?

Coinstar’s processing fee is 11.9%. To avoid the processing fee, you’ll have to choose to receive an e-gift card instead of cash. Before you choose to get a gift card, review the list of participating restaurants and retailers. Coinstar offers the following e-gift card options:

  • AMC Theatres
  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Applebee’s
  • Cabela’s
  • Chili’s
  • Domino’s
  • DoorDash
  • GameStop
  • Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta
  • Hotels.com
  • IHOP
  • Lowe’s
  • Nike
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Roblox
  • Razer Gold
  • Red Robin
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Starbucks
  • Steam
  • Texas Roadhouse
  • The Home Depot
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Is There an Alternative to Coinstar?

Options for Coinstar alternatives are limited. Some banks have change-counting machines, although fewer and fewer banks these days provide them.

Where Can I Cash In Coins for Free?

To avoid the Coinstar fee, there are two ways to cash in your coins for free. First, you can sort and fill your own rolls of coins and take them to your bank to deposit or exchange for cash. Depending on how much change you have, the process might be time-consuming, but at least you’ll save money. Visit your local branch first and ask them for the paper coin sleeves. Most banks will provide them for free, or you can buy them at an office supply store.

The other option is to drive to one of the few banks that still have coin-counting machines. It might be worth the trip if you have a lot of change to roll. Most banks provide the machine to customers free of charge, but some charge a fee to noncustomers.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide if your time is well spent rolling coins or driving to a distant bank. Say you’re cashing in $10 worth of change. Using Coinstar to automate the process will cost you $1.19. With $100 worth of change to cash in, it will cost you $11.90. Compare that to the time and effort it will take you to sort your change and drop it into rolls or drive it to a bank with a counting machine.

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What Banks Have Coin-Counting Machines?

Coin machines have been relegated to smaller regional banks and credit unions. The following banks have coin-counting machines:

  • American Eagle Financial Credit Union: Free for customers, 10% for noncustomers
  • Apple River State Bank: Free for customers
  • First County Bank: Free for customers, 10% for noncustomers
  • Hancock County Savings Bank: Free for customers
  • JBT: Free for customers, 5% for noncustomers
  • Manasquan Bank: Free for customers, 15% for noncustomers
  • Shelby Savings Bank: Free for customers
  • State Bank of Dekalb: Free for customers; available at Texarkana branch only

How Accurate Is Coinstar?

There have been issues in the past with the accuracy of coin-counting machines. In fact, machines that literally shortchanged customers were the reason why some banks, such as TD Bank, pulled their coin machines.

Coinstar machines undergo “rigorous testing to ensure kiosks are highly accurate and reliable,” and technicians routinely service them, as noted on the company’s website. But anyone worried about getting ripped off by the coin counter should consider rolling the change manually to cash in or deposit at a bank. Alternatively, you can count your change before taking it to a Coinstar kiosk to ensure the machine is counting the coins accurately.

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How To Save for a Goal Using Small Change

Saving up your change can help you pay for a short-term goal such as a weekend getaway or a special item you’d like to buy. Every time you get change back after paying, put the coins in a jar or a bowl. Depending on how often you pay for goods and services with cash, you might have the funds you need soon enough. Take your coins to Coinstar or roll them to exchange them at your bank and use the funds to pay for your goal.

Information is accurate as of Nov. 8, 2022.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by any entity covered in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, ratings or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author alone and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any entity named in this article.

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About the Author

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a personal finance writer with degrees from American University in international business and journalism. Besides writing about personal finance, she writes about real estate, interior design and architecture. Her work has been featured in MSN, Brex, Freshome, MyMove, Emirates’ Open Skies magazine and more.
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