Apr 292008
 
Part of the Friday Frugality Series - Previous in series         Next in series

While doing a little research for a recent article about coin counting machines I stumbled across a rather interesting post. If you’re not familiar with coin counting machines you probably haven’t been paying much attention. They’re found in most chain grocery stores around the country (usually tucked right by the doors) as well as many other locations.

Although Coinstar is the most popular type there are other companies that provide these machines including Coinmaster.  Both Coinstar and Coinmaster charge a service fee of 8.9% in return for providing the service of counting your coins for you.  However, Coinstar allows you to purchase online gift certificates to companies like iTunes, DisneyShoppiing, Eddie Bauer, Circuit City and Amazon without a service fee.

Apparently, some people are so put out by the service fee that they’ve developed a way to manipulate the Coinstar machines into waiving it-

  1.  Enter your coins and allow the machine to count them as normal
  2. When it’s time to select your payout choose one of the gift certificate options
  3. Quickly unplug the phone line going to the machine

The machine will attempt to dial out to Coinstar in order to create your gift certificate, be unable to do so, and instead give you the cash receipt.  However, since you didn’t agree to the 8.9% deduction you won’t be charged for it and will instead receive the full value of your cash.

The problem with this is, of course, that Coinstar is now not receiving any revenue in exchange for the service it is providing.  Should a large enough number of people use this little trick than these coin machines will start to disappear.  According to the New York Times it takes more than two years for an individual Coinstar machine to turn a profit.  So, while it may seem like 9% is a lot of money, would you rather have to roll the coins yourself?

My advice: go for the gift certificate – no fees, and if you’re reading this you probably shop online at least occasionally.

Part of the Friday Frugality Series - Previous in series        Next in series

  4 Responses to “Free Cash For Coins From Coinstar”

  1. […] fee ($0.089 per dollar counted, rounded to the nearest cent – or, if you’re a risk-taker, click here), but the Coinstar machine in Nob Hill is not only cleaner and more attractive to use, but it also […]

  2. I agree that these coinstar machines are very convenient, but the fee they charge is pretty outrageous compared to getting the same service for free from a local bank. A lot of credit unions and local banks have these machines available for free if you are a member and some also have coin machines in the back that they will use for you if you have them separated by denomination. I agree it can be annoying to roll coins out if you have a lot, but I think it would be worthwhile considering the money you’d save from a coinstar machine.

  3. Love the way you pointed out how to use the cash machines and where to find them thanks heads up!

  4. […] ($0.089 per dollar counted, rounded to the nearest cent – or, if you’re a risk-taker, click here), but the Coinstar machine in Nob Hill is not only cleaner and more attractive to use, but it also […]

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)