Do you have a jar of coins sitting around your house? Maybe you toss your pocket change into a container on your dresser or a big jug? Someday you'll take them to the bank, right? But who wants to stand in line or have a percentage taken as a service charge. I was in that boat. Then I discovered how easy it is to use Coinstar at my local Jewel store...a place I find myself heading off to for this or that, way too many times during the week.
I have no affiliation with Coinstar. This is just such an easy, convenient way to turn your spare change into great gifts or other things you'd spend money on anyway, that I just have to tell you about it.
For years I would just walk by the Coinstar machine on the way out of the store and thought about checking into it more...one of these days. Finally, I went on the web site to learn how it all worked. Since then, I've been able to get some great books and gifts...all from spare change that had been sitting in a jar on the dresser for years!
Greg and I are book fanatics, so turning spare change...which wasn't of any benefit to us sitting on that dresser...into books and gifts from Amazon has been great. But there are lots of other ways you can convert your change. And these machines are all over the place...in the US and UK, too.
If you don't know where a machine is in your area, go to their web site at Coinstar.com. On the home page you'll find a Zip Code locator input box. Just enter your zip code and click Locate. Be sure to choose US or UK.
Then grab a handful of change and head off to the machine's location. You can view their demo at their online site or on the machine itself. But the whole process is quite easy.
Just hit the on-screen Start button and follow the instructions...touching the appropriate buttons as you go. You can choose to have the coins counted for cash, which means you'll lose a small percentage as a service charge. Or you can choose to donate your coins to some worthy charity. They currently accept coins as donations to America's Second Harvest, American Red Cross, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, March of Dines, UNICEF and the World Wildlife Fund.
Or you can choose to have your coins converted into a gift certificate that you can use yourself or give away as a gift. Some certificates are simply paper vouchers that have a number, which you'll need to enter into the appropriate web site. Businesses that have actual store fronts will have the machine issue you a card that you can reload with more value in the future.
As you can see in the image below, there are a lot of stores from which to choose.
I generally convert my coins to an Amazon.com certificate, which is a paper receipt that I take home and then enter that number into my account on their web site. But I also once had a Starbucks card issued from the machine that I loaded with coins and gave to Greg. This way he can get his daily coffee with spare change that was just sitting around the house.
The cards can be reloaded. Just bring it to the machine next time you have coins, insert it and choose the appropriate item on the screen. The card will be returned to you with your newly counted coins added. Then you can hand over the card for payment next time you're in the mood for a latte and the cost will be deducted from the value on the card.
Once you've made your selections on the screen as to how you want your coins converted, just pour them into the tray in the machine.
Lift the tray and the coins will begin to slide into the receiving side of the machine. Although I generally use my hand to help push them over to the receptacle side, so they don't slide too fast and get jammed up.
Be sure to wait until all the coin "clicking" sound is done. I once hit the Done button before all the noise stopped and then wondered if I actually got an accurate count because I could still hear a few coins, but they were now not being added to the accumulated total I saw on the screen. So be sure to wait until all sounds have stopped.
Also, be sure to check the coin return, which is located approximately at your knees. If any coins are returned, you can try to toss them in again. Most will be recounted correctly, but any foreign coins will again be returned, because they will not be accepted.
You'll then be asked again to confirm your choice...in case you've changed your mind once you see how much value you actually had in the coins you inserted.
If you inserted or chose a gift card, your cash will be electronically added to that card and the card will be returned to you.
If you chose an online only store, such as Amazon...or if you chose to have the value converted to cash...you'll receive a paper receipt.
The receipt will show the value and details of the transaction. If you chose cash, you'll need to take the receipt to the customer service center in the store where the machine is located. They will give you cash for the receipt. But remember, if you choose cash, you'll have a couple percents taken as a service charge.
However, if you choose a gift card or paper receipt for a store, such as Amazon, you get back the full value of your coins...no service charge.
If you selected a gift card, then either use that the next time you're at the card's store, such as Starbucks or Borders. If you chose an online store, such as Amazon or iTunes, take the receipt home and jump on your computer (before you forget).
I'm not sure how all the other sites work, but I assume they're pretty much like Amazon, the one I use. For Amazon, just go to your account. Click on the My Account link and login if you haven't yet. Scroll down and you'll see a Payment Setting area. There you'll see, as shown below, a link to apply your certificate's value to your account. Click that link.
I erased my balance for the screen shot below, but normally you'd see a dollar amount displayed in the top red circled area, or $0.00 displayed if you have no balance. Move down to the second red circled area and carefully type in the code number from the Amazon Coinstar receipt. Then click the Redeem now button. You'll instantly see your balance updated with your new coin value added.
The next time you shop online at Amazon, your gift certificate balance will be the default payment choice, unless you change that to use a credit card for a particular purchase. You can always go back to the above page to check your balance.
After years of having those coins just sitting on the dresser collecting dust, I now grab a handful whenever I head to the grocery store. I toss them in and come home to add that amount to my Amazon balance. Then when I need a book to learn something new or want to buy a gift for someone...of which Amazon has tons...I can easily get what I need simply by using up those coins that weren't doing me any good in sitting around in that old jar.