Unless you manage to pay for absolutely everything with credit and debit, chances are you’re going to gather loose change throughout your day. A penny here, a quarter there, and before you know it, you’ve got more coinage than Scrooge McDuck. If you’re like most people, you’ll want to get rid of those annoying things as soon as possible.
Because while we know it’s money, we’d prefer it in a more convenient form than “giant jar of shiny things.” The less likely it is that your money could suddenly crash down and scatter across the floor at 4 AM, the better.
So what’s the easiest, most cost-effective way of ridding yourself of loose change?
There are three primary options to change coins to cash:
- Take your coins to the bank
- Roll the coins yourself
- Use a coin change service
In this post, we’ll discuss a few tried-and-true methods to transform change to cash, including those mentioned above, along with the pros and cons of each because nothing in this world is polite enough to be perfect.
Take Your Coins to the Bank
As you might have guessed, one way you can have your silver coins swapped for crisp, paper Lincolns is by taking them to the bank. Sweet and simple.
However, counting and exchanging all of those coins comes at a cost. If you don’t have an account with the bank, you might be charged a fee in order to have your coins changed out.
Another caveat: not all banks will exchange coins at all, so be sure to call ahead before you lug your giant jar of coins across town. One more thing to consider: some banks will only take coins that have been rolled—which we’ll discuss in just a moment.
PROs: Having your coins exchanged at your bank is convenient, especially if you have other matters to take care of while you’re there! What’s more, if you’re an account holder, you may be able to deposit the funds from your change jar right into your bank account.
CONs: Your bank may require you to roll your coins ahead of time and may charge you a fee in order to exchange them.
Roll Them Yourself
If your bank says that they only accept rolled coins, you might have your Sunday project cut out for you. The upside is, by the end of this task, you’ll hopefully be able to turn a few pounds of loose change into a stack of cash you can slide right into your wallet.
Rolling your own coins may be a little bit tedious but this is typically the cheapest option you have to change your coins into cash. Here’s how to do it:
- Pick up some coin wrappers in the denominations that you need (quarters, dimes, nickels, pennies)
- Some banks will give them to you for free if you ask politely
- Or, you can buy them online or even at your local discount store
- Separate your coins according to the amount listed on the wrapper
- $10 quarters
- $5 dimes
- $2 nickels
- 50¢ pennies
- Change to cash or deposit the amount into your bank account
PROs: This is a low-cost way to turn your change into cash, perfect for the broke college student or savvy saver. Coin wrappers are typically inexpensive, if not free when you ask nicely at the bank. If you’re an account holder, you can deposit the amount right into your bank account, making it easy to build your emergency fund, checking or savings account.
CONs: It all depends on how good you are with neatly organizing bits of metal into little paper tubes. In other words, the process of rolling your own coins can be a little tedious and if you have tons of coins and clumsy hands, this could end up being an all-day project, and an unfortunate waste of time.
Use a Coin Counting Machine
Chances are you’ve seen these things at your local grocery store or bank, usually of the brand “Coinstar.”
This is probably the simplest and most accessible way to turn change to cash. Here’s how.
- If you’re not sure where there’s a coin exchange service near you, you can do a quick search on Coinstar.com to find a kiosk service in your area
- Bring your change jar and drop your coins into the slot and wait for the machine to count them up for you
- Select a method to turn your change to cash:
- Get cash (8-10% fee)
- Exchange coins for an eGift Card (no fee)
- Consider giving back by making a donation to your favorite charity (no fee)
PROs: The machine quickly counts up all your coins for you. Other than getting yourself to the store or bank, you don’t have to do anything!
CONs: Unless you elect to put your money into a store-specific gift card, you will likely lose 8-10% of your fortune to fees.
Hire Someone to Roll Them
If your schedule is simply too tight to roll coins yourself or go to the store and have a machine do it, you can always pay a friend or neighbor to do it.
PROs: You literally don’t have to do anything but collect the rolls afterwards.
CONs: Unless you can turn this into one of your child’s chores, then you have to pay somebody to do this each and every time, which means you now have less money and that kind of defeats the purpose of this exercise.
Besides, there’s always the sad-but-true possibility your hired help will quietly skim a little bit off the top for themselves.
Buy a Coin Separator
Since most stores would frown on you stealing their coin machine, why not buy a miniature version for your home? If you’re diligent about collecting your coins and have turned this task into a kind of ritual, buying a coin separator might be the best way to cash in coins.
All you have to do is find a coin separator of your choice, pick up some rollers, place them in the appropriate slots, and the separator will automatically slide the coins right in. Depending on the model, it might even seal the roll for you! Once all of your coins have been distributed into the appropriate rollers, you can take them to the bank and you’re good to go.
PROs: A coin separator quickly organizes everything and rolls it all for you, and charges no fees.
CONs: Unfortunately, you still have to buy the machine, and if you have a huge project involving jars upon jars of coins, a top-of-the-line separator could run you several hundred bucks. Luckily, if you only have a few coins and aren’t constantly building up more, a basic machine will only run you about 15 bucks.
Buy Stuff with Them
Of course, you COULD just use the coins as money, which they technically still are. Simply bring what you need to the counter, pay the clerk, and enjoy all your new-found stuff. Plus, what’s more satisfying than having exact change at the register? And if you have a coin-operated laundry machine, you know there’s nothing more valuable than a stack of quarters.
PROs: There’s no need to roll anything, and nobody’s going to charge you extra for paying with coins instead of paper or plastic.
CONs: You have to constantly count your coins before using them, which gets old fast. And while you theoretically could dump all your change on the counter and make the clerk count out what they need, it’s probably best not to do that.
Key Takeaways: Where Can I Cash in My Coins?
If you’re wondering where to cash in change, just use the tips listed above to easily turn your heavy metal coins into cash, gift cards, or an added balance to your bank account. Before you choose a method, though, you may want to consider the pros and cons listed above so that you don’t lose out on money because of transaction fees, or waste a bunch of time when there’s a method that’s more convenient for you.
To wrap up, here are six ways you can turn change into cash:
- Take Your Coins to the Bank
- Roll Them Yourself
- Use a Coin Counting Machine
- Hire Someone to Roll Them
- Buy a Coin Separator
- Buy Stuff with Them
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.