Coin and Jar

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.

Coin and 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?

More from Mary's Everyday Cheapskate

man holding US cash in his hands
daffodil collage
money with stethescope
A person flying through the air on a snow covered mountain
A stack of currency chained together and padlocked. Used for any money inference where money is tight or protected.
Christmas vintage presents on a wooden background
A bowl of oranges on a table

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our EC users. Keep your comments positive, encouraging, supportive, and on-topic. Please no lectures or personal promotions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
42 replies
Newer Comments »
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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”.

  10. 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.

    • Barbara G says:

      i use my change as Family Time. The Whole Family sits down at the kitchen table to collect, sort and roll coins, about once a month. The children learn how to count with Real Money and where coins come from, which mint, or which State, in the case of quarters. It’s becomes a game. The children receive a small share, to spend, or save, as they want and a chore becomes fun. The rest goes into a grocery envelope.

Newer Comments »

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 *