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?

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41 replies
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  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. Cville says:

    Coinstar machines also issue NO FEE online gift certificates to
    retailers such as 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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”.

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