Chuck E. Cheese’s Switches From Tokens To Stored-Value Cards, Annoys Token-Lovers

Image courtesy of Allen

There are people out there who collect just about everything, and one growing market is arcade tokens. If you have any Chuck E. Cheese’s tokens lurking in a drawer or jewelry box, they’re about to become slightly more valuable: the chain is about to switch from custom-made tokens to stored-value cards, making it easier to track individual players and restore lost balances.

Don’t worry, Bloomberg Businessweek assures us: the strips of tickets spit out by skee-ball machines and other games with rewards aren’t going anywhere. It’s just the “tracking” thing that’s key. Customers will be able to turn in their old tokens to be deposited on the new cards, but yours might be worth more than their face value already.

You can use the tokens to trace changes in Chuck’s appearance over the years, and certain things make the tokens more valuable. The market will change after tokens are phased out, but as with coinage for real money, coins that are super rare or were supposed to be destroyed are worth more.

If they’re old enough to have the chain’s original name, Pizza Time Theatre, or the delicious and slightly blasphemous motto “In Pizza We Trust,” they’re worth more. Coins printed with the location name on them have special value, especially if they’re one of the very few minted for a restaurant in Santa Ana, CA that never opened. There are other limited-run variations, and the market fluctuates like any collectible.

We do not, however, recommend buying a bucket of tokens before the changeover to fund your retirement. You should invest your portfolio in the traditional way: Hummel figurines and Beanie Babies.

Chuck E. Cheese’s Embraces a New Form of Cheddar [Bloomberg Businessweek]
Chuck E. Cheese Design History [Forrest’s Web Pages]