Target Worker: You Can't Pay With Change

According to one Target employee, Target doesn’t accept “just change.” You must have bills, or you do not get your stuff. Reader Mike went to Target with a bunch of change in his pocket. He didn’t feel like using an ATM, and the item he was at Target to purchase cost less than 5 dollars, so he figured he would pay with change. He figured wrong.

The cashier told him Target did not accept “just change,” and flatly refused to continue with the transaction. Mike ended up using his debit card and writing Target an email about the worker when he got home. This was Target’s response:

I’m sorry to hear about the disappointing experience you had during your recent visit to the Meriden Target store in Connecticut.

Target accepts change as payment for merchandise, and I apologize that a team member misinformed you.

Upon receipt of your e-mail, I spoke to the Store Team Leader at the Meriden location, and they advised me that they will be following up with team members to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.

If you’d like, you can also share your concerns by calling the Guest Service Team Lead at (203) 634-6049. Your feedback is a big help to us, and I’ll make sure to share your comments with our Store Operations team.

We’re always glad to hear from you, so whenever you have any questions or comments, give us a call at (800) 440-0680. You can also check with a Guest Service Team Lead at your store, or visit us on Either way, we’re here to help!

Thanks for shopping with us. I hope we’ll see you again soon at Target.


Target Guest Relations

We think Mike handled this the right way. Target doesn’t accept change? What? It’s not like he walked in there with a flour sack full of nickels and tried to buy a PS3. Cashiers do the strangest things.—MEGHANN MARCO


Edit Your Comment

  1. thrillhouse says:

    Bravo, Target.

  2. medalian1 says:

    I would’ve asked for a manager if the cashier had been a bitch about accepting legal tender.

  3. Kornkob says:

    Glad they handled that well.

  4. parliboy says:

    Target’s employee was being a pain, to be sure. However, to clarify, before people talk about how the money was legal tender, Target is not under a legal obligation to accept the money.

    The term legal tender applies only to “all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues” (Coinage Act of 1965). Because Mike did not have a debt to Target at the time of checkout, Target was free to decline the currency.

    It was just a dumb thing to do.

    Note that if your purchase involves a consumable that’s used up before payment (like getting a bill after you eat at a restaurant), then at that point, the restaurant must take the change or your debt is considered absolved.

  5. 5yearwinter says:

    I worked at Target for two years, and I always accepted change. I’m glad Target did the right thing and personally responded to his complaint. The cashier that refused was probably just lazy.

  6. Falconfire says:

    Bravo Target? I mean seriously is this how bad consumerism has gotten that we are cheering on a company for taking care of a situation that shouldn’t have happened in the first place?

    Sadly its a situation the Federal Government could fix by just putting in law that businesses in the US MUST accept all forms of legal tender with a provision to prevent people from using like all pennies or federal reserve notes.

  7. Blackneto says:

    Even though it is legal tender they do not have to accept a bag full of change.

    How may gas stations or convience stores have you been to that have posted on the register or pump, ‘No 50’s or 100’s after dark’

  8. blindInTexas says:

    My wife is a diehard Target fan. If we had been faced with that situation though, I’m not so sure she or I would have handled it in the same manner.

    Target has always been pretty good with Customer service, at least in our experience. The only WTH moment we’ve ever had was when we contacted Target about opening a Super Target in our Town. Thier response was that due to the theft margins in our town Target did not feel it was profitable to build one here. However 2 months later we see a sign in a more well todo town ” down the road “, and low and behold they were breaking ground for a new Super Target.

  9. JShore says:

    I’m a former employee of Target and I worked there for almost two years. I always accepted change – even though it was a pain. I am glad to see Target handling the situation effectively, something I’m sure Wal-Mart wouldn’t do.

  10. dieman says:

    I would have put it on my target charge then tried to pay it in change at the customer service desk. :)

  11. HaxRomana says:

    I’m sure the person who was in line behind Mike agrees with the cashier’s decision wholeheartedly.

  12. Just to echo what’s already been said, yes it is legal tender. No, they don’t have to accept it. Any more than they MUST honor demands of customers to be paid in certain ways. For example if your change is $10 they don’t have to give you a 10 dollar bill. They do it for efficiency’s sake, but if they want to be as much of a jerk as this kid was being they could just as well throw you a roll of quarters, or 5 rolls of nickels,…

    The difference here is that the cashier probably has no authority to reject payment.

  13. phrygian says:

    I spent my high school and college years working as a cashier. Taking change (in reasonable denominations) as a payment is no more time consuming than taking bills (in reasonable denominations). I see no indication that Mike tried to pay in all pennies and nickels. I assumed that he probably used mostly quarters and maybe a few other coins, which is no more difficult to count than if a person bought a $500 item and paid in mostly $20s and other smaller bills. The main difference is that it’s much easier to deal with 20 quarters in the till than 25 $20s. (The twenty slot always filled up fastest in my till, thanks to it being the denomination of choice at ATMs and banks.)

  14. acambras says:

    Blackneto and HaxRomana,

    His purchase was for less than $5.00. The story doesn’t say exactly what coins he had, but I doubt it was 500 pennies. He had change in his pocket, not in bag or a big jar from his dresser. It sounds like the cashier was being unreasonable.

    The Meriden, CT Target is on my way home from work. I suddenly have the urge to stop by and spend $5 worth of quarters. See if they’ve learned their lesson.

  15. Kornkob says:

    Even the government does not have to accept an unreasonable payment method– even if it is ‘legal tender’. At least this is true at the state level– I admit I’ve never seen it codified at the federal level.

    Go ahead– try to pay your state property taxes in pennies. Or try to pay your $.27 water bill with a $1000 bill. In every state I’ve looked it up, the government can require ‘fair and reasonable’ proceedures for acceptance of funds, to include not accpeting excessive amounts of change or huge bills for tiny charges.

  16. Echodork says:

    Off-topic, but I wanted to share because it’s an amusing story.

    I managed a GameStop when the PSP was released. I had a customer (about 16 years old) who reserved one and came in the day of release to pick it up. He had paid the $50 deposit when he reserved the unit, but he owed about $300 on the system and the games he wanted to get.

    So I ring him up, and the kid pulls out a ghetto-roll of fresh, brand-new $1 bills. He proceeds to count off $300 in ones, and hands them to me. When I ask him what he’s doing with that many one dollar bills, he tells me he cashed in three hundreds at the bank across the street for the SOLE PURPOSE of buying his PSP with a gangsta roll of singles.

    Some people.

  17. homerjay says:

    Oh Falconfire, You’ve been reading too many of these complaints.

    Target is a big company that hires a lot of minumim wage register-jockeys. As a corporation, they did the right thing. If they were to back up this lazy-ass cashier and defend such a stupid action, then you can complain. As it is, they fixed the problem on the first try but apologizing. What more could you expect?

  18. As the above-linked Wikipedia page points out, many countries have laws that state that coins must be accepted as payment for debts below some fairly small value.

    (Here in Australia, this has resulted in the observation that automated toll booths that don’t accept five cent coins may, technically, be violating the law.)

    The USA, interestingly, has no such laws. So a store actually is free to refuse payment in coins for any debt, if they like.

  19. Maulleigh says:

    yeah, that poor salesperson just didn’t feel like counting all that change. Target is great but it only pays so much an hour. Just like the worker who put callers on hold and then told them whatever it was they wanted was out of stock.

    Target should look into hiring better caliber sales people. Or they should pay more so cashiers are willing to go the extra mile.

    I hate the world.

  20. Anyone ever have a comment show up and then disappear later?

  21. Panhandler says:

    I can’t believe some of you are invoking the jackboots of the Federal Government on such a silly issue. Target could refuse to take anything but 1974 $2 bills if they wanted. They’re national sales would of course fall to $0 (okay, maybe $2), and so they don’t. But they could. Why are some folks so quick to reach for the thuggery and vast bureacracy of Washington, for the merest trivial things?!

  22. jodamiller says:

    When I worked at Sears I had a woman pay for a boombox with 163 $1 bills (I try not to make assumptions, but all signs indicated she liked to dance). Anyway, I never thought about refusing to take those, though it probably took me more time to count that than it took the Target cashier to count

  23. ElizabethD says:

    The resolution of this just increases my insane love for Target.

  24. ElizabethD says:

    Rectilinear: This is happening to me constantly now at Consumerist. The comment seems to flash on the screen briefly, then it evaporates.

  25. Blackneto says:


    I’m just pointing out the facts.

    It would be a dumb policy IF there was one to not accept the method of payment listed in the article. But it is perfectly within the rights of the vendor to refuse any form of payment they wan’t.

    other examples have been cited where such a policy would be illegal.

  26. crayonshinobi says:

    Through college and high school I worked at a comic book shop. We had a sign on the counter next to the register where you paid that read, “NO SHOE MONEY.”

    Especially in the summer it would seem, kids would keep money in their socks instead of their pockets. It was disgusting, and we refused it. However, if someone had come to pay with a jar full of loose coins (not all pennies), I would have been happy to take it because it would mean that I wouldn’t have to make a bank run for rolls of coins that day.

  27. CaptainRoin says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: i’ve seen them appear, disappear, change 3 shades of purple and then finally stay. sometimes it takes a while. same on every gawker site :(

  28. Easy on the “jackboot” and “thuggery”, Panhandler. Comparing the government to the Nazis undermines your otherwise valid argument.

    The reason people are bringing up the government is that per the Constitution, the government is responsible for the coining of monies, and by extension the printing of bills. Since leaving the gold standard our currency is a fiat currency, which is to say that it has no intrinsic worth. It’s value is determined by it’s exchangeability for goods and services. Target’s failure to accept it in this instance could be interpreted as an affront to the very value of our current system of exchange. That is why people are sensitive.

  29. Falconfire says:

    Why are some folks so quick to reach for the thuggery and vast bureacracy of Washington, for the merest trivial things?!

    Because while in this case its just douchbaggery, often its used to screw the consumer. Perfect example of this was when I 2 years ago had a car impounded because of some shady dealings between the Passaic Police Department, and the impound lot.

    Long story short, I wanted to pay by either credit or check, but they would only take cash. I know why now (illegal money laundering and payoffs) but at the time it was simply to protect myself because of what had already happened (car was impounded, reported as stolen since I had no reason to suspect the car to have been towed from in front of my house in the middle of the night, and it took over a month for the PPD to realize my car was in their system as stolen AND towed yet they where going to try to get me to pay the full months impound fee)

    So yeah not exactly what happened here, but the fact is it IS money and it IS put out by our federal government to pay debts. Stores should have no rights to refuse it except for the extreme cases of some dickhead trying to pay a $100 dollar bill with pennies. If thats really too hard then why put out change at all? why not round everything to the nearest dollar.

    Of course with everything moving to easily hackable debit cards playing with change might be a thing of the past for everyone.

  30. badgeman46 says:

    I had a simliar experience with a Target here in Yulee, FL. The cashier handed me my change for my purchase over the register and dropped 50 cents. The 50 cents dissapeared behind her and she couldn’t find it. When I suggested she press the “no sale” key and hand me two more quarters, she replied “I’d have to get my manager! Its just 50 cents!” She finally caved and opened the drawer. It seems to me the cashiers at target are trained to be lazy.

  31. Tim Matheson says:

    Self Checkout anyone? In the near future ass hat employees that want to give that “whats in it for me” attitude will be replaced by self checkout stands. I mean come on, a cashier position at Target is so easy a cave man could do it. If they can’t count change in a timely fashion then maybe Target, and other big box chains should spend some loot and get one of those auto coin counters or at least put in a coin star machine. Typical case of a lazy employee lying about company policy to inconvenience the consumer. I guess thats what you get when you hire people who can’t count to eleven without taking off their socks.

  32. Josh Smith says:

    That Target employee is a punk, I still remember counting out 54.78 in change for some guy who was buying a boombox when I worked at K-Mart. It did take roughly 45 minutes though.

  33. r81984 says:

    I work retail on my breaks from school, and I can say is good for target. I myself would never refuse to take money as its not a inconvience to me, but to everyone waiting in line. The target employee did nothing wrong here. At least they could have said when their is no line we would gladly wait to count out change.

    Its pathetic when people try to pay with change, retail stores are not banks and when there is a huge line only an asshole would pay in change.

  34. RandomHookup says:

    Sure it is a pain to count out change, but this was less than $5!! The time arguing would be more than the time it took to count out 50 dimes.

  35. erika says:

    “When I ask him what he’s doing with that many one dollar bills, he tells me he cashed in three hundreds at the bank across the street for the SOLE PURPOSE of buying his PSP with a gangsta roll of singles.”

    That happened to me when I worked at a record store only it was dollar coins and $2 bills. Kid paid for $400 worth of CD’s that way!

  36. mullenite says:

    Target does accept change, the problem is, when the payment is a large sum. Target does not count change at the end of the day, so paying with several dollars in change can severely throw off the register count. The employee should have suspended the customers order and got the GSTL to assist the guest while keeping the rest of the customers in line moving.

  37. superbmtsub says:

    Target doesnt have to accept the money but Target sure should do smth about lazy employees who make up rules like “Target doesnt accept change”.

  38. MasonMacabre says:

    When I worked as a manager at a little shop I was always happy when people would come in and pay with change. It meant that I wouldn’t have to drag change back from the bank later that day or go next door to beg for change.

  39. Smoking Pope says:

    Step two: Go to Target when that guy is working again, and bring the letter from corporate with you. Then pay for a $900 grill with pennies and nickels.

  40. eriksanerd says:

    I worked in fast food back in high school. I loved it when people brought in that much change, because it saved me the trouble of having to run in the back and get change from managers or the like. In the long run, taking the change saves you a lot of time.

    It was most likely just a lazy student trying to get out of having to count out change. Not Target’s fault, and I applaud them for acknowledging their mistake. That is something a place like Wal-Mart would never do. And that’s why I drive the extra mile for Target.

  41. rg says:

    It’s nice that Target’s doing so well that it can treat customers like that, i hope the clerk loses their job.
    And what kind of moron takes that kind of treatment lying down!? When something like that happens you ask for the manager…common sense. No retailer will refuse “legal tender” of any kind.

  42. madktdisease says:

    haxromana – i know, waiting an extra 30 seconds for someone to pay in change would truly be an affront to god!

    i was behind a mentally retarded woman who paid entirely in change one time at target in danvers, ma, and the cashier was really awesome about it, was super sweet, and helped her count the change. at first i was annoyed that the line wasn’t moving, but when i figured it out, i shrugged and read a magazine.

  43. Dr. Eirik says:

    I had a different problem at a Target a couple months back. The person in front of me, with a huge order, decided to get a Target card to pay for the order. Once her order (for about $500, mostly kids clothes) was rung up, she had to go through another procedure to get the card… and it was denied. The cashier had to clear out the order completely and re-ring it from scratch.

    By that time, I’d been waiting behind her for ten minutes or so. I didn’t abandon the line because the place was packed.

    I wish the lady had paid in pennies, it’d have taken a shorter time.

  44. crayonshinobi says:

    There’s always the chance that they were Ass Pennies.

  45. acambras says:

    Yeah, I’m one of the most impatient people in the world, but I get really irritated with these people who act like the world will implode if they have to wait in line an extra five seconds. I think they are the same people who tailgate on the freeway because “slow assholes” in front of them have the nerve not to drive 80 mph.

    If these people weren’t bitching about someone paying with coins, they’d be bitching about someone counting out $1 bills, or writing a check, or using an EBT card, or having to get something voided if it scanned in wrong, or having to ask the cashier to repeat the total. And dammit, won’t that elderly lady hurry up and move her damn cart out of the way?!?

    So you people that have such a huge problem with everyone else in the world wasting your time, use self-checkout (I don’t use it because my technological ineptitude would bring that line to a grinding halt). Or shop online. Or go to the store when there aren’t a lot of people there. Or take a Xanax and chill.

    We know you’ve never kept anyone waiting. Ever.

    So now we all know that your time is more precious than everyone else’s and we should just get the hell out of your way. Oh, and sorry that we slow folks keep breathing up all your oxygen.

  46. bearymore says:

    How Orwellian. Team member and guest?? Perhaps next time I go to Target, I’ll be offered a nice cup of tea and some cookies.

  47. r81984 says:


    Writing a check is just as bad as paying for a large order in all change.

    Its the worst when a jackass who does not have a debit card decides to pay with a check.
    In the time it takes one person to pay with a check I could have checked out 5 people.

  48. maxnl says:

    One time I went to best buy to exchange a keyboard & mouse combo for a more expensive one (50 $ more). I paid the difference in $20 nickels, $10 in dimes, and the last $23 in quarters. The cashier didn’t mind at all (they have to count it all up to make sure you aren’t trying to steal) and in fact, she added that they need change and was glad to be getting so much.

  49. acambras says:


    Hey, I don’t write checks anymore and I too let out a little groan when someone in front of me writes a check. My point is that life is messy and there will always be little things that hold up the line (little old ladies, puking kids, the mentally-challenged, etc.) Some people can write checks faster than others can use credit/debit swipers (which are different at every damn store, I might point out). When most people paid with either checks or cash, I would make a point of having everything filled out but the amount, and things went pretty quickly. Now I think most of the people who write checks are elderly, who tend to be physically slower anyway. I suppose stores could ban the elderly, but you know the AARP would be all over that shit.

    And I have to say that if I do hold up the line (for whatever reason), I care more about the people behind me than I do about you the cashier. It is your job to accept payment (in whatever form the store has deemed acceptable) for goods or services. It is not your job to be pissy and judgemental toward customers, or to formulate new policies about how you think the store should be run. Besides, if you get paid by the hour, what the hell do you care how long it takes someone to dig for that penny or sign a check?

  50. madderhatter says:

    Target doesn’t accept change? What? It’s not like he walked in there with a flour sack full of nickels and tried to buy a PS3. Cashiers do the strangest things.

    LOL ! Meghann wins for funniest comment of the month !

  51. dantsea says:

    Two items to cover here.

    – Why did this make it to Consumerist? It seems odd that this was the sort of thing that r81couldn’t be settled by talking with the manager or shift supervisor, unless the person was the manager or shift supervisor. I’m just not understanding why an attempt wasn’t made to get this resolved in-store.

    – If for some reason management staff couldn’t be involved, in the rare cases (2 times, actually) that this happened to me, I found that whipping out a camera phone resulted in instant compliance. Go figure that one asshole move would resolve another.

  52. Hoss says:

    dantc: agree

  53. Stepehn Colbert says:

    Your problem stems from going to Target to begin with. I remember a while back here in Brick, New Jersey, Target was refusing war veterans hand-outs. fuck ’em, buy from somewhere less french.

  54. swalve says:

    “Target does not count change at the end of the day”


  55. riggs says:

    So, um, two things. One…we’re talking less than 5 bucks. So somewhere between 500 pennies (unlikely) and 20 quarters. Not a big deal. Anyone with 4th grade math could figure this out. Two, I don’t buy this business about how writing a check is so horrible. You fill it out, hand it over, they run it through the little machine-all in all, not much slower than using a debit card, punching in your pin, declining cash back…just my humble opinion, though.

  56. 5h17h34d says:

    What swalve said…

  57. mullenite says:

    Swalve and 5h17h24d: After the store closes the registers are cashed out and change is put in the bag to be counted before going either to the bank or back in to the registers, but not counted when the store is closed. The reason being the amount of time it would take could potentially cost Target more than any money that is lost or unaccounted for.

    I could go in to more detail as to why but that would require me to explain the front lanes closing procedure. Suffice it to say that the policy make sense.

  58. DrWorm says:

    Nero says:
    Your problem stems from going to Target to begin with. I remember a while back here in Brick, New Jersey, Target was refusing war veterans hand-outs. fuck ’em, buy from somewhere less french.

    Do people still believe this BS? Do a search for Target on for the truth about this.

    Story in short: The individual stores can’t contribute money, but Target Corporation as a whole can (and does). The guy who originally made the claim has since apologized and is sad that some people still spread this myth.

  59. Framling says:

    I actually find having a bunch of change to pay for stuff is one of the few times I’ll actually use a self-checkout. If I’m between jobs and have to go to my change jar and dig out nickels to buy my ten-pack of microwave burritos, I feel a lot better wasting some soul-less machine’s time and energy than some poor kid making minimum wage. Plus you don’t have to worry about the machine back-talking you, rolling its eyes, or refusing your dimes.

  60. Miguel Valdespino says:

    About the check comments – I don’t mind somebody paying by check if they’re cool about it. What I hate is the person who waits until everything has been rung up, then opens their purse and begins to hunt for the checkbook.

    If you’re going to pay by check, then you should have it ready and have the date and store name all filled out by the time they finish ringing.

    I also like the companies that put the checks through their register and it fills everything out but the signature. What a smart way to deal with a 19th century transaction.

  61. SimonGodOfHairdos says:

    DrWorm, thanks for responding, I had just searched Snopes to find this link for Nero when I scrolled past your comment.

    How long will this inaccurate myth continue to circulate????? I hate when people blithely take whatever they hear at face value, question everything!

  62. ck2787 says:

    I work for target and yes the cashiers have the right to refuse change as payment if it is unreasonable If they are going to pay for a 5 dollar item with just change we can tell them they need to get that sorted out into cash and come back later to buy that and direct them to guest service or the bank. They cannot hold up the line for five minutes while they dig threw change or even 10 minutes.