A Jar of Coins Full and Running Over

Saving Coins Can Be a Pain


I am not one to spend coins. And I don’t like carrying them around in my wallet, either. Every night both my husband and I dump the day’s accumulation into a container to save for a trip or to buy something special. One year we saved $1,100 in coins, but I have to admit the logistics can be a royal pain.

Banks and credit unions have strict rules about loose coins. Some require it to be rolled, wrapped and labeled before depositing. Others won’t accept wrapped coins. Either way, most these days charge a fee.

Coins in a jar

I don’t know what happened to me last weekend. I guess I was suffering from a severe case of TMC (too many coins). In a fit of frustration I dumped the jars into a big bag and drove to the supermarket. I knew it would cost me 10.9% to use the Coinstar machine located in the store, but it seemed reasonable. After a few minutes of shoveling, out popped a voucher for $383.52. My heart sunk once I realized that I’d walked in with $431.57. Big Green clobbered me with a $47.05 fee!

Karl Hartkopf whose website is devoted to coin rolling techniques advocates cheap or free counting machines. But, he points out, it is not always possible. So, if you can’t find a bank or credit to count your coins free, should you pay the fee or should you wrap your own coins? Well, that all depends.

Breaking this down into hourly rates, Hartkopf says that I paid Coinstar an hourly rate of $26.70 to count my quarters ($.89 per $10 roll) because he says it takes less than two minutes for the average person to wrap a $10 roll of quarters. Pennies are another story. It takes the same amount of time to roll pennies but Coinstar charges less than 5 cents per roll or $1.36 per hour to count pennies. Nickels work out to $5.34 an hour, dimes $13.35.

Most of us probably value our time at much more than $1.36 an hour. However, many of us do not even get paid as much as the hourly rate Coinstar charges to count quarters or dimes. Who among us wouldn’t gladly “earn” a few extra dollars by rolling our own?

At first I scoffed at Harkopf’s suggestion of 2 minutes per roll. No way, and I consider myself average. It takes me forever to roll and wrap coins. But then I read his method (look for “Counting-Rolling-Wrapping Your Coins” on his website). I tried it … and Wow, it is slick. With very little practice I’m under 2 minutes per roll already. Here’s the key: Work on a “made bed.” Hard surfaces make coin rolling nearly impossible. Hint: Spread an old sheet over that “made bed” first because money is very dirty. Then follow his detailed steps.

I’m still kicking myself over that $47.05 fee. At the very least I should have rolled the quarters and dimes myself and taken them into my bank, which will accept rolled coins from accountholders. Then I should have dumped only the pennies and maybe the nickels into Big Green.

Question: Does your bank or credit union have self-service coin-counting machines?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

40 replies
  1. glorydayz3
    glorydayz3 says:

    I’m a waitress and get lots of loose change. I have one of those disposable lunch meat containers set up with 4 baggies to separate the different coins and money rolls tucked together in a rubberband. I separate the coins as I empty my apron, and when I can tell I have more than the 40 or 50 coins needed to roll, I roll them right away and tuck the filled rolls in the bottom of the container. They fit just right and stay together until I am ready to make a deposit. When I have about $30 or so saved up and have time to run inside the bank I deposit them into my savings account. By keeping up with it I don’t have to do a lot at once, and by depositing it somewhat regularly I can see how much change I have saved up. Last year I saved $500 in change and used it to by a new computer and my son’s class ring. This year it will be going toward a mission trip my husband and daughter are taking to Alaska,

  2. kathyw
    kathyw says:

    Mary, get over it already; you could have selected a gift card as Cville noted below to amazon or elsewhere and gotten every dime you put in. Rolling coins is a total pain in the rear. Or save them and pass out on Halloween in lieu of unhealthy sugar.

  3. Kelbelle
    Kelbelle says:

    WHAT!!!??? Banks charging you to deposit money? Coin or no coin, that’s ridiculous. Glad I live in the sticks. We still live so nice and “free” here. My kids can play outside, my doors aren’t locked 24/7, and my bank (any of the 3) will count our coins for FREE! Whoopee! 🙂

  4. Janet
    Janet says:

    Our credit union, America First, has a machine in the lobby. We pour the coins in and it gives us a slip with the amount. There is no charge. We all guess what the amount will be and whoever is closest gets to decide what we spend it on. It must be something the whole family can use. Love my credit union.

  5. Anne
    Anne says:

    My husband spent time rolling our jars of coins, we took them to our credit union and the teller smiled and asked us to please not roll them again. After unrolling the coins, she ran them through the machine and gave us the cash. I now put all my coins in jars, got this idea from the book “The Christmas Jar” , take them to the bank each November and donate this amount to charity.

  6. MamaChills
    MamaChills says:

    i belong to a credit union, where there is absolutely no charge to use the coin counting machine. i like it that way, and i happen to prefer credit unions to banks, i feel i can trust them more.

  7. Nanette
    Nanette says:

    Our banks no longer have coin counters(?????). About 10 yrs ago, I purchased an electric coin counter at walmart or staples along with a huge bag of paper tubes to fit. $20-30 bucks tops. Has traveled with me thru 3 states. Sits on the edge of my desk. When hubby and i empty our pockets, i clean my purse or we clean our cars, we dump the coins in. About every 2 months, we deposit about 80-100 bucks. Easy saving and no clutter. All we do is close the end of the tubes when full and off to the bank we go. Coin star used to be reasonable, now it’s a rip.

  8. Linda Pries
    Linda Pries says:

    I have absolutely no problem with using coins to pay for purchases. In fact, oftentimes coins are all I have to make a payment. I have to make a conscious effort if I wish to save coins. At one time I did save pennies and still have around $50 in a box stuffed in a closet somewhere in rolled pennies. I also don’t mind rolling coins. I just slap a return address label on each roll and have never had a problem using them.

  9. Priscilla
    Priscilla says:

    My solution to this is simple. I do save my coins. However, 3 or 4 times a year my church has a coin drive on a certain Sunday and the coins go to a home for children that they sponsor. I grab a fist full of coins on my way out the door and put them in a little sack….later depositing them in the collection plate. They get their donations and I do not have to roll coins. LOL

  10. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    We tried the machine at the grocery stores too. I hated losing so much money on their fees. We now have a plastic machine with coin wrappers attached. Once they fill up, we take them to the bank and put them in my son’s savings account.

  11. moegg
    moegg says:

    I save my coins until I have a hefty amount and then I let my 7 year old grandson roll them over a weekend visit. I pay him $10 and a free milkshake. He gets to practice his math skills and I get to enjoy spending time with him. Win-win!

  12. Emily Booth
    Emily Booth says:

    I save pennies, nickels and dimes. No quarters! In the past, I saved quarters for the laundry. Today, I save quarters for the parking meter. Years ago, I looked for a bank with free coin counting when I needed to get a new safe deposit box. This bank is a neighborhood S & L and has free coin counting with an account. They still use the old fashioned passbook! I opened a savings account just for loose change and the odd refund check. I visit them 1X or 2X a year and only for deposits, never withdrawals. I drop off the loose change and my passbook. They mail the passbook to me. Since I opened the account 13 years ago, I now have over $1600. It is effortless savings.

  13. Jeanne
    Jeanne says:

    My bank has a coin counting machine and does not charge for members of the bank. I use that system. I would never use the machine at a grocery store, etc. and pay for this service. Waste of my money.. Otherwise you could save your quarters and dimes in a bag and when you go to garage sales, use that money to buy items. Usually the homeowner is very happy to get more change. You could give the change to the Salvation Army at Christmas time in their pots. It is still money. Sometimes fast food restaurants welcome change too.

  14. ShirlSumm
    ShirlSumm says:

    My husband and I drop ours into one of those automatice sorting machines. It makes it much easier. I use the extra money to pay down debt.

  15. Cath
    Cath says:

    I’ve only used a coin machine once, when they advertised a special deal to get you to try it. (I think it was a gift card and no fee, a good deal). I had to put a certain amount in to get the deal, so I counted my coins very carefully to make sure I had enough, then counted them again, then took a few extra coins just in case. The machine cautioned to pour the coins in slowly, which I did. But I came up short on the coins, even with my extras. I was really scrounging through the bottom of my purse looking for every available coin to reach my minimum. My theory is these companies make an undeclared profit off everyone because the machines don’t really count every coin. Unless you want to drop them in one at a time, I’d say you’re getting ripped off. I make a point of trying to use exact change when I pay for items rather than saving coins. I also use debit cards frequently thus avoiding change altogether.

  16. Marie
    Marie says:

    I had no idea many banks either charge a fee or require you to roll your coins. We do the same as Mary mentioned in her column–dump our change into our piggy bank at night and when it’s full bring it to our bank. We’ve never been charged a fee and have never been required to roll the coins. I’m now grateful for something I took for granted and thought everyone had access to!

  17. Betty Thomas
    Betty Thomas says:

    Last year we paid for a trip to the coast from our fish bowls full of coins. We wrapped them ourselves a little every night while watching a show we DVR’d or just talking about our day. The irritating thing was trying to find the coin wraps. The other weird thing was taking them to our bank (no fee because we bank there) and fielding all the questions from the teller. Where’d you get all these coins, how long did you save them, what are you going to do with them???? Had he never seen coins brought in before? Strange!

  18. Cville
    Cville says:

    Coinstar machines also issue NO FEE online gift certificates to
    retailers such as Amazon.com. I save my coin “dump” for when I plan to
    purchase a much needed item or gift online. My last “dump” paid for a
    new bed for my son’s first house.

  19. Aggy
    Aggy says:

    I spend all my coins at stores with self check out registers. I go during off hours (after I get the kids from school) and we feed the machine our coins. No fees. If there is a balance left I put in on a card or use paper money.

  20. Guest
    Guest says:

    My bank accepts rolled coins from account holders, and my credit union has a coin machine available for account holders to use free.

  21. Kelli
    Kelli says:

    I took a roll of quarters to my bank to swap for some currency and was told they no longer accepted rolled change because of losses they’d incurred and the fact that tellers “don’t have time” to count change. The teller did count my single roll but then wouldn’t give me the currency in the denominations I’d requested. I emailed my bank to let them know how displeased I was. Their response was that they’d pass it on the their “management care team.” Big woo.

  22. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    TD Bank (formerly Commerce Bank) has had a coin-counting machine available to customers for years. Others can use it, but I am not sure if they are charged a fee.

  23. banne
    banne says:

    I recently found out that the local store where I get my morning paper loves change. I now “dump” the “jar” into a used pill bottle which I keep in the car and use the change to buy the paper.

  24. mum28
    mum28 says:

    My CU has a free (to members) machine and it is one of the reasons I chose that CU. I hate that so many won’t either take your loose coins for their machine or take your rolls…………They certainly use coins in their everyday business, but it seems only “they” are “allowed”. The rest of us that are trying to teach our kids to save their coins are told by the banking industry that coins aren’t important. Really? How do they think those dollars got there? “Mind your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves”.

  25. ournoni
    ournoni says:

    my bank does not have a machine out for public use, but will take my loose coins and run them through their change machine in the back and give me the cash. It pays to ask.

  26. Judy H.
    Judy H. says:

    I have a little plastic gizmo that has 4 tubular parts sitting in it, one for each kind of coin. When I take the change out of my purse, each coin goes into its own tube. When that tube is to the mark, I put the coins into a paper wrapper from the bank or credit union. Takes just a few seconds.

  27. Penny
    Penny says:

    My bank has free coin machine for account holders. But unlike you, I rarely have coins to roll. Before the end of the week I have usually spent my coins as I need them to make my purchases. If I do eat fast food and the bill is $5.35, I pay it in exact change. After a month or two I might have $10.00 in change that I turn into my petty cash at the machine. I am amazed at that people who bring in huge amounts of coins. I also don’t mind carrying coins and would prefer to use dollar coins to paper ones. I had no problem using one and two euro coins on my one trip to Austria. As a child, one of my chores was rolling coins, so I really don’t mind that either.

  28. Julie
    Julie says:

    I keep all my quarters separate for friends who live in apartments with coin laundry. They buy them off me. The rest I wrap myself while watching TV in the evening…double duty and keeps me busy instead of dozing. It’s a regular task and then depositing them is quick.

  29. Char
    Char says:

    Many banks that I charge a coin counting fee will waive the fee if the money is deposited into an account with the bank. It makes sense to ask.

  30. Christine L
    Christine L says:

    The coinstar at our grocery store stopped offering the no-fee gift card for the grocery store but has other gift card options at no-fee. I recently cashed our coins for the full value on an amazon gift card, which will be used for Christmas shopping.

  31. Beck
    Beck says:

    One of the three banks in our area will count coins for free in a machine as long as you have an account. It is too bad the other two do not. Apparently if you have an old coin machine at a bank it breaks down a lot guessing.. things like slugs, dirt and so forth come in to be counted as well as coin then it tears up the machine. So if you take coin in to be counted make sure it is clean of debris.
    I give my quarters to my daughter for laundry money while at college. I bag the rest and have them count it once a month at the bank.

  32. Jan Jones
    Jan Jones says:

    We noticed one of those coin converting machines at our local hometown grocery store. I was not planning to use it, until I found out it gives you credit for a gift card to spend at that grocery store, and has NO FEE. Win-Win!

  33. pdsmama
    pdsmama says:

    I sort out all the quarters to pay at the self check at walmart. Or even buy a fast food meal with the quarters and dimes. Then I let my kids “donate” to a good cause at the museum or even the whirly coin machine at Walmart where you get to watch your coin go in the “tornado”.

  34. Leo N.
    Leo N. says:

    My credit union is a block from my home. They have a coin counting machine that is no charge for members. All my coins are saved in a small bag which I take to the credit union at the end of each month and the money goes into my savings account. An easy way to save $10 to $20 per month.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *