Winning The Coin Jar Game

Yesterday was coin-jar payout day for me. I got $120! Woohoo! And since I took my can to the Penny Arcade at TD Bank, formerly Commerce Bank, they counted my change for free, unlike the Coinstars in supermarkets. Perversely, the past few weeks as my coin jar got close to full , I started to really look forward to getting change, to the extent I started to develop some irrational behavior…

Usually my fiancee and I split things pretty evenly but on a few times I knew I covered a little bit more than my fair share because I knew I would get to keep some change. I opted for a smaller cup of coffee because that was 50 cents in change instead of 25. I even felt slightly miffed for a moment when the bagel guy gave me back a whole dollar instead of making 90 cents in change. I knew the more change I got, the quicker my jar would fill, and the sooner I could take it in.

Chase just changed my WaMu debit card over to one of theirs. The flyer says that there’s a “Case Picks Up The Tab” program where “Your next debit card purchase could be on us!” if you use your debit card as credit, you win a chance to have your next debit purchase be free.

In both cases, people are getting nudged into changing transaction decisions into game decisions. You can’t avoid how games operate on your brain, but you can choose which games you play – the ones that reward behavior you want to curb or the ones that promote behavior you want to encourage. Games are powerful, usurping your normal decision-making process. It’s all a question of whether you use that power for good or for evil!

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Yep. That’s me. Except for the splitting things in half thing. Mr. Pi and I have never done that. It’s just easier to call it “our money” and have a discussion when someone wants to buy a shiny new toy.

    But I looooove CoinStar. Love it. It’s an amazing piece of machinery and technology, and we used the amazon gift voucher we got from CoinStar to pay for some Christmas gifts.

  2. Irish Lion says:

    Ah! But how much are you losing in the fees to have the machine count all that change? Isn’t it something like 12%?

    • morganlh85 says:

      @Irish Lion: Coinstar charges 8% last I used it. Some banks charge a bit less.

      And when you have something like $100 in pennies and dimes, it’s worth it to save me the trouble of hand sorting it myself.

      • calquist says:

        @morganlh85: “Some banks charge less”? I’ve never been to a bank that charged me for it, I guess unless maybe you are not going to a bank where you have an account.

        • morganlh85 says:

          @calquist: I checked at least 3 banks in my area, and they all charged about 5% to use their coin counter. Supply and demand, I suppose.

        • Con Seannery wants the azure F back! says:

          @calquist: My bank makes me roll it.

          • timsgm1418 says:
          • kaceetheconsumer says:

            @Con Seannery doesnt care about the iPhone, hates Facebook: Ours too, and stopped providing free paper rollers years ago, forcing us to buy rollers which eats up the change too.

            Plus last time I actually sat and did it, the bastards retroactively withdrew about $20 of the $375ish claiming I was off by that amount. Mmm, I don’t think so. I was REALLY careful. And even if I made an error or two – which were just as likely to be an extra penny per roll as one short – there’s no way it could have added up to $20. I mean, I would have had to have been deliberately criminal or functionally impaired to make that level of error. But I can’t argue it because they took the evidence. So BoA pretty much just stole my money and I’m hosed (and yes, yes, I know, it’s a horrid bank and we should switch but the two we were considering switching to have closed down).

            Anyway, our next full jar goes to a Coinstar for the Amazon gift certificate.

    • Hawkins says:

      @Irish Lion: Mr Lion: Some CoinStar machines will give you a choice: You can have cash, less a fat percent for them, or an Amazon.com gift certificate, full value.

      I guess they assume that a certain percentage of the certificates go unredeemed.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Irish Lion: Using CoinStar, you can get full-value gift certificates to amazon.com and some other places. But most importantly, amazon.com. :D

    • Matthew Sadler says:

      @Irish Lion: Quoth the article: “Took my can in to TD Bank and used their Penny Arcade which counts for free…”

    • lifestar says:

      @Irish Lion: That’s only if you opt for the all-cash option. If you go for the other options like amazon, borders, gap, then you get the full worth back. I usually go amazon b/c then I can input the code into my account and that value stays there indefinitely. I don’t even want to deal with the exp. date on the certificate, just get it into my account and I can use it any time I want.

    • tkozikow says:

      @Irish Lion: My local bank had free coin counting machines in most branches, but is in the process of replacing them after multiple failures. I prefer cash, not a gift certificate, which is why I avoid Coinstar. In the DC area Chevy Chase has free coin counting for customers (not me) and charges something like $3.00 up to $100 which is not too bad if you have a lot of coins. I typically have around $40 every 6-8 weeks which I give to my daughter as spending money.

  3. morganlh85 says:

    We do this all the time. Usually we will break the piggy bank open for a special occasion, dinner and a movie for an anniversary or whatever.

  4. LetMeGetTheManager says:

    Thankfully TD Bank (former Commerce Bank) has no charge machines. Last year before a trip to Europe, I cashed out…got about $400 in spending money to use.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @LetMeGetTheManager: Wow! We have a HUGE container of coins but unfortunately, all the coin counting machines around us have a limit to the amount you can cash in. There aren’t many machines either, so for the most part, we use those plastic coin counters and paper wrappers. :)

  5. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    LetMeGetTheManager: $400?! Wow. The highest I’ve ever hit was $120. I opted to get it as the Amazon gift voucher instead of money though. The fee on the coins was too much, and I shop at Amazon anyway.

  6. hellinmyeyes says:

    My credit union just installed a coin-counting machine (not CoinStar) into its main branch, and I’m told it takes a 5% fee when depositing your coins. I usually don’t have such burdensome amounts that I can’t count and roll my coins myself, but I find that I keep quarters exclusively in my car as my occasional tollway fund and just keep the other change in an ashtray to be rolled later. There’s no “bad” system as long as there is a system, I guess.

    I see a LOT of banks (including my credit union) trying to add these gimmicks and rewards to their debit cards, trying to deter people (like myself) from doing the “pay everything with a credit card for the rewards and pay it off at the end of the month” game. I’m not sure how it works out in the end monetarily, but I’m much happier getting the buyer protection from my credit company, and the transaction costs to the retailers are hardly much different between debit and credit card transactions.

  7. Anonymous says:

    my boyfriend and i decided to re-do our floors. we had a few jars of change and figured, “hey, it could cut down our out of pocket expenses, why not?” so we lugged a backpack full o’ change to TD bank and threw it all into the penny arcade. my bf guessed $50, i guessed $85… the grand total was $475. it was enough to pay for flooring, baseboards, underpadding, a duvet cover AND lunch at taco bell. WIN all around.

    • Yokai Monsters Spook Warfare says:

      @KurtPeneus: Yeah, my bf and I keep a couple of piggy banks around the house, and cash them in whenever they are full. I’m always surprised how much you can get out of there. Last year we had over $300, just enough for a new xbox 360 from amazon :o)

    • timsgm1418 says:

      @KurtPeneus: I have two 5 gallon water bottles, one for pennies, one for other change. The pennies get saved for vacation time, and the other coins are emergency fund..Never have had more than $130, but still when you need $130 buck, it’s nice to have it

  8. Anonymous says:

    Chevy Chase Bank (local bank in the DC area) also has a coin counter. It’s free for bank customers, and there’s some sort of fee schedule for non-customers (but I think it’s still cheaper than CoinStar).

    But yeah … I avoid CoinStar as much as possible. I’d like to keep my 8.5 cents (or whatever it is now), thank you very much.

  9. Dave Pernal says:

    those “your next debit card purchase could be on us!” gimmicks suck. most debit cards have a default transaction in the vicinity of $300-$500 unless you ask them to raise it. and since we use debit cards like cash most of the time, that “free” purchase could amount to a cup of coffee or a pack of gum. gee, thanks, chase… you almost made up for the $50 in monthly fees you charge me for the privilege of having an account with you (since I don’t make much money, and there’s NO WAY i could ever maintain an average balance of $2,500) with a $0.99 pack of trident! AWESOME.

  10. ohiomensch says:

    I just count the coins with a couple of handy dandy devices I purchased more than a decade ago. A set of 4 trays that sort each coin into like groups, and a set of tubes to count them. I usually buy wrappers at staples for a couple of bucks, but if you really want to be frugal, the bank will give them to you for free. I have a box I fill up. I usually take $50 at a time. I used to fill up one of those water cooler bottles but they weigh too much and its too much of a chore at that point. Its a good feeling to take coins to the bank, and its also a good way to save for something frivolous, since its just change. I try not to buy too much from amazon, and I cant see giving coinstar money for something I can do while I sit in front of the tv wasting time anyway.

  11. HogwartsAlum says:

    I’ve never used a Coinstar machine, since I can’t save any change; I always dig it out and spend it. Except for pennies, which don’t add up as fast.

    I would probably just use the Amazon certificate. I buy stuff from them all the time anyway. One time I filled out a FedEx survey and they sent me a $10 Amazon gift cert and I used it to buy a movie. Win! :)

  12. speeddaimon says:

    I used to have a coin jar, and would look forward to getting it changed out for big stuff. But ever since I got a check card (about 2 years ago) I never carry cash. I mean I have a 5 dollar bill on me right now that I’ve had for 2 weeks. I miss the coin jar. I do not miss the ATM fees I used to pay.

  13. Nighthawke says:

    It’s cheaper in the long run buying an automated sorter and rolling your own. Just make sure you follow your banks guidelines in submitting your rolled coin. They may want your name and phone # on each roll.

  14. 44 in a Row says:

    Mr Lion: Some CoinStar machines will give you a choice: You can have cash, less a fat percent for them, or an Amazon.com gift certificate, full value.

    I guess they assume that a certain percentage of the certificates go unredeemed.

    My guess is that Amazon pays the Coinstar. After all, that way Amazon knows you’re spending your money with them.

  15. 44 in a Row says:

    Coinstar. Not “the Coinstar”.

  16. econobiker says:

    I wonder why the automated check out lanes don’t have coin dump bowls to pay in -just a little tiny slot- yet they have coin dump bowls to dispense change.

    Oh, because of the CoinStar et al fees these places make so they checkouts are specified with the little feed slot versus an easy to use coin bowl.

    • shepd says:

      @econobiker:

      9.5% fee on the coinstar in my grocery store. I have a large pocketfull of pennies.

      I go to pay for groceries at the self-pay checkout and, having a lot of time, insert one penny at a time into the slot to pay for a $3 item. I was wondering how long it would take the attendant to decide enough was enough.

      The attendant flagged down the manager, I handed the manager my coins, which the manger counted, and I was on my way, 29 cents richer!

      I was so surprised that it all happened this way that I didn’t take the opportunity to mention to the manager I knew they had a coinstar, but I didn’t use it because of the fee… :-S

      • Framling says:

        @shepd: One of the few times I’ve used a self-checkout was during college, when I had to pay for a 10-pack of microwave burritos with nickels.

      • timsgm1418 says:

        @shepd: excellent story.
        I’ve used the self checkout when all I have is change as well. I usually try to go when it’s not going to be too crowded, but hey the system allows you to do it, and change is money too…

  17. madame_underpants says:

    my change jar is full of “washing expense” i.e., since Im the one that does the laundry, whatever I find at the bottom of the washing machine is mine.

    I don’t think I have ever used a coinstar. I just make the hot guy at the bank dump my change, & since I put it all in a big wine jug, he has to wiggle and shake to get it all out.

    Oh, the joy.

  18. adb1158 says:

    Two weeks ago I brought $140 of rolled coins to my Credit Union (Navy Federal) and the teller told me that they prefer that I use their coin machine–I guess it verifies the count better than most folks do. For the past five years my kids and I have looked forward to emptying out the jar and searching for the state quarters for their books. Not sure if they’ll be that into rolling the coins now since the books are full.

  19. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I learned from an episode of “Numb3rs” how these machines sort coins…it’s extremely interesting. Apparently the machine has sensors that sort the coins based on parameters such as weight, size and the composition of the coin face (I think) – I’m guessing this is how foreign coins get separated even though sometimes they might be the same size and weight as regular coins.

  20. andrewe says:

    With the loonies and toonies ($1 and $2 coins) here in Canada I can save up quite a bit this way. I cash it in once a year when we take a vacation. My best year to date was $800. This year was just over $400. The hard part is not spending it early.

    I wish I had an option to have someone else sort and count it out for me though.

    • PencilSharp says:

      @andrewe: Y’know, this is one of the reasons I support the concept of a 1USD coin; it would make an excellent addition to the coin jar.
      Too bad the US Treasury can’t bring themselves to admit that the $1 coin needs to be BIG and HEAVY to stand out from the other coins. Sacagoldea just plain sucks…

      • shepd says:

        @PencilSharp:

        The Sacagawea dollar is actually the same diameter as the loonie, and slightly thicker, and therefore (very slightly) heavier than the Canadian dollar.

        Just FYI… Personally, I think the loonie and toonie are pretty much the exact sizes they should be. Although I *still* think the two-piece design of the toonie is dumb, but I’ve only ever had one coin separate, so it could be worse.

        Now, the 50 cent piece, that’s a horrid little coin that I’ve ended up getting in change as a quarter occasionally. And then there’s trying to spend the damn things. And there’s the old voyageur dollar coins we had too–but those you would have to request, I’ve never been given them in change. Good luck spending them. :-(

        BTW: Canada has had an official “dollar coin” that you could actually buy for $1 since 1935, it just wasn’t popular until redesigned and reintroduced as the loonie–no longer printing dollar bills probably helped, too.

        There’s also a good reason why we have the loonie, since the plates that were redesigned to be similar to the 1935 dollar were stolen the mint chose to simply redesign the coin.

  21. tobedetermined says:

    Actually, I found collecting loose change is fun for my kids. My two boys now have their own Big Belly Bank: [www.amazon.com]

    I used Commerce Bank (now TD Bank) because they don’t require fees, nor an active account. I brought my older son there last winter and cashed out $300. I cashed out $600 stored in a 10-gallon water bottle few years back.

    By the way, a buddy of mine has this very bad habit of throwing away pennies in the trash. He would just pick out the pennies and toss them right in the bin.

    • amandakerik says:

      @tobedetermined: Gah, I hate it when people do that, can you get him to just toss them on the ground!? At least then someone will have the chance to grab them vs being buried with trash in a landfill.

      A friend of mine holds onto them until he can find a ledge on a building (brickwork, etc.) and just puts them there. It’s like a reverse treasure hunt for him if he’s in an area that he doesn’t know very well.

      It only takes him a couple minutes at most.

  22. MameDennis says:

    I don’t find it convenient to make a special trip to the bank just to get rid of loose change. I’m going to the grocery store anyway, and I shop at Amazon a lot, so Coinstar is a great option for me.

  23. ADismalScience says:

    It goes to show how powerful even ridiculous incentives are. Consumer behavior is strange alchemy; it’s the job of marketers and consumer advocates everywhere to identify the levers and pull them. For example, you’d probably really enjoy one of those banking products that “rounds up” every debit card or credit card transaction to the nearest dollar and deposits the difference in cash – it seems to fit that sense you have of saving the margins of your spending into organized buckets.

    That, and you MIGHT JUST have a wee bit of the ol’ OCD. Just saying. No shame in that, I’ve got it too!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Years ago, when I got my first debit card, I pretty much stopped using cash. But then I noticed that I would use all of my money because it’s not real anymore. It’s just a card that lets me buy things, so I did. I check my balance online often so I always know how much I have, but that didn’t stop me from spending while I was out.

    Lately, I’ve started giving myself an ‘allowance’ in cash. Physically seeing my money vanish has served well at slowing my spending habits. Now I think “hmm, only got $35 in my wallet, I’ll pass on that,” instead of “I’ve got a few hundred in my checking account, so why not?”

  25. Kirk Douglas says:

    Hey Ben, am I wrong in assuming that the TD Bank you speak of is not the TD Bank that exists in Canada?

    TD Bank here is one of the largest banks here. (Toronto Dominion)

  26. bobpence says:

    My regional credit union also has a coin counter with no fees, but like Navy Federal it is often crowded during lunch and the limited hours it is open and I am not at work. So I keep my Commerce, oops TB Bank account because of the free coin counting and the time convenience.

    My coins build up fastest if I am somewhat sociopathic and take the position “you have the cash register, you make the change.” (Don’t scold me, Iàve been on the other side of the counter and think it is just as well.) It helps that when I do try to make clerks’ lives easier they usually seem to have no clue why I just gave them $20.27 for a $10.17 total.

    Just as it helps to have one-dollar bills in the U.S., here in Switzerland I’ve found it is necessary to have franc coins (for vending machines, not strippers). The change machine at the local self-serve laundry only changes 5- and 2-franc coins to 1-franc coins, it doesn’t handle bills at all. Likewise a lot of vending machines take only coins. As a result, folks seem to have massive wallets to hold a bunch of coins. If they have a Coinstar equivalent here, it is probably for the smaller coins (1/2 france, 20, 10, and 5 centimes; the 2 and 1 centimes coins seem not to be used at all).

  27. lonestarbl says:

    If you must use a coinstar… you should at least do yourself a favor and seperate out all of the $.25, those are easy to count on your own and probably make up 30-50% of the overall value of your stash.

    Coinstar does get paid by Amazon for their dealings, plus you need to consider if you will be paying any shipping charges in that purchase… that could be your base fee or more

  28. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    lonestarbl: Isn’t it more of an inconvenience when you have to sort out the quarters and then take the rest of the coins to Coinstar? Isn’t the point of going to the coin sorter machine to NOT have change lying around? If you have rolls of quarters, then you have to go to the bank and get those converted.

    CoinStar does get paid by Amazon, but if you’re only dumping about $20 in coins, you’re not waiting long enough. Free shipping through Amazon (not their partners) requires a minimum of $25. Most people who go to CoinStar have jars and jars of coins.

  29. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    You didn’t hear this from me, but if you tell CoinStar you want to buy an iTunes gift card, then unplug the phone line from the back of it, it will be unable to process your request, and for the “inconvienence” they will automatically drop the fee.

    *cough*

  30. suburbancowboy says:

    I keep all my change in a big jar, but the amount never adds up to a huge total, because I need all of the quarters to pay for the parking meters for my commute.

    TD Bank is definitely the way to go. If it is the same as Commerce bank was, you don’t even need an account to cash in the coins there.

  31. cmdrsass says:

    My credit union, like others, has two ways to cash in coins – you can drop it off with a teller and they will process it at the end of the day and deposit it in your account (less a small processing fee), or you can use the free coin counter in the lobby. We bring in our change just before a vacation so that we can use the cash as our walking around money. We know other people who have been stockpiling change for 20 years in wine jugs and never cash out – what a waste.

  32. Anonymous says:

    My girlfriend doesn’t like me to use CoinStar. She says it costs everytime I use it. I responded by telling here CoinStar charges me about 8% to count my money. When she counts and rolls my change, she charges me 100%. She didn’t like that response. ;)

  33. mythago says:

    The machine at the grocery store near me has a whole bunch of different coupons (Amazon, iTunes, and some other stores) for which you get full value on your coins. If something goes wrong with the machine so that it can’t give you the store-value certificate, it gives you a full-value case certificate that you can turn in at the store.

    For me this is a good way to splurge. Loose change and pocket change gets thrown into a jar, and when it’s full we turn it in and use it to buy a DVD or something from Amazon.

  34. Anonymous says:

    I just got $57 yesterday!!! woohoo to the coin jar game

  35. PencilSharp says:

    Huh. I actually got extra benefit from this article. I do love me some Amazon, but didn’t really know if CoinStar’s little vouchers were a good idea or not.
    Judging from the feedback here, I’ll be trying it sometime soon. 10-Q, Consumerists!

  36. Parapraxis says:

    @Irish Lion: did you even read the article fully before replying?

  37. SNForrester says:

    To the people who are saving hundreds of dollars in their piggy banks and coin jars: wouldn’t you be better served by saving that money in the bank and making interest? (Pretend the banks are still safe and actually giving significant interest but the idea is sound I think.)

    Also, the “next debit purchase on us” gimmick means nothing to me unless I know the odds. If they don’t tell you the odds upfront, then I assume it’s on par with winning the lottery. No way would I let something like that change my shopping behavior. Has anyone EVER gotten one of those free purchases?

  38. Anonymous says:

    Along with the Coinstar no-fee gift certificates options, over the holidays they also ran a promotion with Amazon where you got a bonus $10 gift certificate for turning a certain amount of change into amazon credit. Its not the first time they’ve done this either. I just let my change bottle sit until one of these comes up then take it all down to the local supermarket coinstar machine.

  39. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    SNForrester: I can’t think of a truly time-efficient method to depositing three jars of coins into a bank account. I get the concept and I’d do it if there was something more time-efficient. I don’t want to count everything myself, and I don’t want to pay a fee for the bank to do it.

    I’ve never even heard of the “debit purchase” thing until this post. I’ve only ever seen straight cash or the gift vouchers from various websites when you use Coinstar. And after doing some quick math in my head and on my cell phone calculator, it wasn’t worth getting straight cash if I was going to lose X amount in fees.

  40. JohnOB1 says:

    I cashed in change at TD Bank too! I guess within $.75 of what i had (I said $8 it was really $8.74) and got a neat TD Bank BANK! AND I WENT TO THE BANK ON A SUNDAY!

  41. Jonathan N says:

    I count all my change by hand, sorry, those machines suck. I tried one and it froze….the young banker didnt know what do to. Plus, my current girlfriend got fired from Commerce. I dont like that bank at all.

  42. fatcop says:

    I use coffee cans to save my change. I fill them until they are about an inch from the top, by which time they are getting too heavy to lift easily. I have never cashed them in before and have several filled already. I roughly estimate around 200 bucks per can. I used to get lots of dollar coins from the post office machine (back before they yanked them out?!?!) and just tossed them in as well.

  43. RB_Bhoy says:

    i took an old huge water cooler jug in (while it was still commerce) that had about 6 inches of change in it. i had to have somebody next to the machine with me cuz i kept filling up the bags inside the machine. it end up being about $7 shy of $800. granted that’s over about 15 years of change collecting but still! i’ve been back twice since for a combined total of about $300.

  44. meechybee says:

    Now you’re just teasing me…

    We did the same thing, bypassing the CoinStar for a TD counter and it was broken — with no repair schedule.

    I can’t decide whether it’s broken because of overuse, or TD was just tired of servicing non-account holders like me.

  45. SWBLOOPERS says:

    Just rolled my coin jar coins last week all by myself. Was enough to buy me a brand new EEE PC laptop! Whee!

  46. suebob says:

    I save my quarters for car wash and laundry and take the small annoying stuff to CoinStar. They charge about 9 percent here, but I’d rather give them 9 percent of a penny or nickel than 9 percent of a quarter.

  47. acmoore says:

    I can’t stand Coinstar specifically because of the 9% rake. I take my change in pocketsfull to Lowe’s where they have one of those self-checkout things. The other day, I stuffed over $14 in change into one. In my mind, this is the only redeeming quality of the self-checkout counters.

  48. meechybee says:

    Any New Yorker can tell you that in NYC quarters are king! Even in the best buildings, the laundry room usually still accepts coins over debit cards.

    I’ve got my change-making calculation set on maximum quarterage — it saves a trip to the bank to exchange bills for rolls!

  49. Ben_Q2 says:

    I do the same, I just go every other month and get a Amazon GC. I use it to by something needless or something I want. I just bought a video card the other day all with coins.

  50. ohiomensch says:

    I used to work as a cashier and I am amazed at the people who will not bend over to pick up a penny that they dropped.

    But on the other hand I know people who go out of their way to pick up that discarded loose change and are very grateful its there.

  51. NeutronDecker says:

    Two weeks ago I spent countless hours getting all of my quarters into coin rolls. I ended up with almost $600… I walked into my credit union just to find out that they do not accept coin rolls. I have to use the coin machine they had outside that also charged 6%….boy was I in a bitter mood. I ended up going to Wells Fargo down the street…I wonder if my landlord would of accepted coin rolls??

  52. ionerox says:

    Banks should always count your money for free, even if it is coin. When I was a bank teller, I loved my customers who brought in big jars or bags of coins. (At least, as long as it was a jar that was easy to pour coins out of quickly.)
    I hated the folks who rolled coins, because we just had to break them all open again and run it through the coin sorter, and the customer invariably got pissed about that. (But how else do you make sure there’s no sneaky Canadian coins or blanks in the middle of the roll?)

  53. Rich Jeffery says:

    My bucket holds a good $300 in change and I fill it 3-4 times a year ^_^

  54. Anonymous says:

    I did not read the entire thread so I do not know if this has been mentioned. They did a study once in the area I live (Tennessee) and dicovered that a large amount of these machines were rigged to count wrong. I forget the exact numbers but it was on average 10 to 20 percent taken above the charge rate. Just thought I would warn everybody that this may be another reason to trust your bank. In my experience also they may not want to but the bank is required to use their machines to count your change if you ask. Good luck ot there.

  55. rlee says:

    @ GianniAbadon: Here’s hoping that that won’t be one of the victims of Chevy Chase’s absorption into (*sob*) Capital One.

  56. Squeezer99 says:

    $120…pfft lightweight. last november coinstar had the cash in $40 in change to an amazon gift cert, get another $10 gift cert via rebate. i cashed in 219.xx in change my mom gave me from a 3 gallon golfish bowl. i had to carry all of the change in a canvas bag with a few shoeboxes full of change.

  57. Anonymous says:

    Our local banks don’t take coins (wrapped or otherwise), even if you have an account.

    One, TD, does have a machine that is available to customers and non-customers alike.

    The CoinStar machines are total ripoffs.

    The biggest issue I have is the accuracy of these machines. They’re great at spitting out foreign coins that are mixed in (We get a lot of those in change here in NYC.) but I once had exactly $40 in quarters and it came up less. Since I counted, I knew it was accurate but had no way to dispute it with the bank.

    Once the coins are in the machine, that’s it.

    I’d be thrilled if there was a way to use a card (BUT not connected to your personal bank account) as cash, anonymously, for everything. Of course, then you have the problem with returns, etc. and no way to get credited back.

    Ugh. Keeping change (for tolls, laundry, vending machines, etc.) is a hassle.

  58. hardtoremember says:

    We have been doing this for about 4 years now. We even bought a new computer once with our spare change!
    All the change goes into a big tin until we need it for something and then it goes to the beloved coinstar.
    Right now we are saving all of our change, five dollar bills and about 2/3 of our ones to start a business.

    It’s funny how little we miss it once it’s put away.

  59. Jeff Winter says:

    I work at a local Milwaukee bank, and we charge a fee to non-customers, and free to customers. Rolling your own coin is a waste of time, we’ll just break it into the coin machine… too easy to be shorted that way. They’re has also been rumors of people rolling their own coin with fake fillers in the middle to get free cash…

  60. Jangie says:

    Is your coin jar a former house for a bottle of Laphroaig scotch? Just curious… looks very similar. If so, excellent taste, Mr. Popken!

  61. LVP says:

    How accurate are those machines? Didn’t Ben do an experiment with these machines once?

    I roll my change.

  62. ZeeroxFalls says:

    I bought a 4 column coin sorter at Longs years ago and it works great.

    Each column is the size of a standard coin roll. The values are marked on the sides. No hand counting at all. As each column is filled to the top I just transfer the coins to a wrapper. When I have about $20 collected I generally take it into the bank and get bills. Except quarters which I hoard for laundry purposes.

  63. Bs Baldwin says:

    Well the way that the coin are counted is low and high tech. One disc spins the coins to the edges of the disc, then the coins pass underneath a sensor bar that rejects coins that are not size and/or height. After that the coins just fall into the appropriate slot (smallest is dimes, smaller is penny, small is nickels, etc); the slots have a sensor that counts each coin.

    Oh and the Penny Arcade is free for everybody. And you get a prize if you can guess correctly the amount of coins you have.