Many people accumulate pocket change over time. That change finds its way into a coin jar or another container and builds up. One day, you’ll look at the container and realize that it’s accrued quite a bit of money and will want to do something with it.
The catch, of course, is that a big pile of change is a hassle to deal with. Paying for a purchase with a mountain of coins is time-consuming and potentially annoying to the people around you. Some businesses will accept bulk change and convert it into dollars for you, but they charge a fee.
Here are four ways to minimize or even eliminate the fees you may face for exchanging your coins for cash.
Start With Your Bank or Credit Union
Many banks and most credit unions offer a free conversion of coins to cash for account holders. They’ll simply dump your change into a sorting machine and give you cash after the change has run through it. Some banks offer this service with a small fee.
Roll Your Coins
Many banks that won’t sort your coins for you will accept rolled coins, and some will even give you the empty paper rolls to do the coin rolling yourself. This does require you to sort the coins by hand, but then you’re able to deposit the coins for free.
Another advantage of rolled coins is that you can often use them as cash for small purchases. A cashier may open the roll to examine the contents, but it’s an easy way to use large numbers of coins in stores for purchases.
Use Coinstar Wisely
Many stores offer Coinstar machines that enable you to convert your change into cash, but it comes with a pretty stiff fee, currently 11.9 percent of the value of your coins, making it a less-than-ideal option.
However, Coinstar does offer the option of cashing out in the form of a gift card to Amazon (and other retailers), waiving the fee. This offers a good strategy. If you have a planned purchase on Amazon, such as a holiday gift, you can take your change to Coinstar, get an Amazon gift card, then use that gift card to pay for that purchase. This enables you to effectively use your change to make an Amazon purchase without any fees.
Use Exact Change for Small Purchases
A final strategy for your pocket change is to simply carry several coins of each type in your pocket at all times. Rather than receiving change for small purchases, use your pocket change to pay the exact price, so you won’t receive any change. Want to use a vending machine? Use the coins in your pocket and whittle down your change rather than feeding in a few dollars and getting more pocket change that you don’t want to deal with. Over time, rather than watching the change accumulate in your coin jar, you’ll find that your change jar gradually empties.
In combination, these strategies should help you get the full value of your pocket change without being dinged with fees. Each one has particular advantages and disadvantages. No matter what your situation is, it’s likely that at least one of these tips will help you turn your coins into cash without paying hefty fees.