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 those coins you’ve been saving. Which means you’re wondering, where can I change my coins for cash – and do it for free?
There are plenty of options to try to get your coins turned into cash without paying a ridiculous fee. These are the best places to take your spare change and walk out with dollar dollar bills, y’all.
What Banks have Free Coin Counting Machines?
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.
When you call ahead, here’s what you should ask about coin cashing:
- Do they have a coin counting machine?
- Is it free?
- Do you need to be a member of the bank to use it?
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 the bigger 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. You’ll mostly still find coin counting machines at community banks and credit unions.
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 an account with a bank that accepts loose change.
If it saves your time and energy and you get to avoid fighting with coin wrappers, go for it. 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.
Where can I change my coins for cash for free?
|Bank||Need to be a Customer||Accepts Coins or Rolls||Fee|
|US Bank||Yes||Coins, not rolls||No fee|
|Wells Fargo||Yes||Coin rolls||No fee|
|Bank of America||Yes||Coin rolls||No fee|
|Citibank||Depends on state||Coin rolls||Charges fee at different locations; call for more info|
|Credit Unions||Yes||Varies; call ahead||Varies; call ahead|
|Local Banks||Varies||Varies; call ahead||Varies; call ahead|
Where to Get Coin Wrappers
If you’ve found a local bank or credit union that will take your rolled coins, ask them for coin wrappers. Most banks will give free coin wrappers to just anyone, whether they’re a member or not.
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 or Dollar Store 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.
Other Free Coin Counting Options
Get your Kids in on the Action
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 coins. Or, offer them a percentage of the take for their help.
Try Visiting 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!
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 an alternative. The one that’s most commonly known as Coinstar.
Coinstar’s coin-counting machines are in the lobbies of various groceries, retail stores, drug stores, and even some banks.
Currently, Coinstar charges a painfully whopping 11.9% fee if you want to cash out your coins for paper money. Ouch.
However – don’t despair. Coinstar also offers 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.
To use Coinstar, throw your change into the Coinstar machine. 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)
- 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 charities you can directly donate to)
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|
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 nearest Coinstar by using the locator on their 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 banks, 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.
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)
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?
Did I miss any places where can I change my coins for cash for free? If so, let me know in the comments below!