A change for the better...
March 18, 2008 9:18 PM   Subscribe

Where can I trade spare change for bills in Seattle, without fees?

There are Coinstar machines in some groceries nearby, but they charge nearly 10% for their exchange, which is an utter scam. Back in Philadelphia, Commerce Bank has "Penny Arcade" machines that will collect change and exchange for bills without charging a fee. Are there any such similar services in Seattle?
posted by Blazecock Pileon to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The few times that I've cashed in my change jars in recent years I've used Coinstar. I agree it's a ripoff. My friend was trying to tell me that Chase bank (where she has an account) will take loose change and exchange it for bills (or a deposit.) So, check with your bank.
posted by wfrgms at 9:23 PM on March 18, 2008

Two answers, though perhaps not what you're looking for: 1) roll it yourself and go to a bank; 2) get Amazon or iTunes gift certificates from Coinstar instead of cash. When you get gift certificates, you aren't charged the Coinstar fee.
posted by kables at 9:23 PM on March 18, 2008

Well, you could try the Coinstar hack. At your own risk, of course.
posted by TochterAusElysium at 9:52 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Well, you could try the Coinstar hack. At your own risk, of course.

I appeciate the thought, but preferably legal advice, if possible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:59 PM on March 18, 2008

Almost every bank has a coin counter in the back. If you have an account, call your local branch and make sure they don't charge an obnoxious fee. Alternatively, take it to a casino. You might have to ask which cage has a jet sort for actual money (as opposed to tokens) but all the casinos should have one.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:01 PM on March 18, 2008

I've always only used my bank for this (various banks, various cities, but I had an account... though I doubt they really cared since none ever asked for proof of this.)

They do insist it's rolled, though. You can buy rolling paper (um... coin-rolling paper) at any dollar store. Ironically.
posted by rokusan at 10:25 PM on March 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

If it's your bank, they will give you free rolling papers. I've asked and was given them. It's fun stacking the little babies in. THen, just hand back the packed rolls. NO FEEs involved. My bank is WaMu, which they say may be flirting with getting bought out, which is AMAZING, given that they have been a big force.. a major bank. Their stock is tanking. How do these things happen?
posted by yazi at 10:38 PM on March 18, 2008

My main bank is BECU, which may not have this service. The one branch office I have been to seems not to have bank tellers who handle money. But perhaps I can visit another bank without having to sign up for an account, instead.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:43 PM on March 18, 2008

At the First Tech branch in Bellevue they have an automated coin-sorter thing in the lobby that just spits out a receipt which you give to the teller in exchange for cash. I can't vouch for its accuracy or remember if they asked for my account number, but there wasn't an explicit fee.
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:22 PM on March 18, 2008

I don't have an answer myself, because I stink, but if I may, may I ask why CoinStar is a "scam"? It charges a clearly defined price for a particular service. I've used it before without complaint (though we would separate our quarters back when we didn't have in-house laundry machines). I'm genuinely asking about the phrasing, not trying to start a fight. I also apologize about the piggybacking.

My gut tells me that this sort of question is part and parcel of the banking industry's ongoing campaign to remind you, the person whose money they have, can go get bent.
posted by Skot at 12:53 AM on March 19, 2008

I'm genuinely asking about the phrasing, not trying to start a fight.

It's the rate charged that bothers me, when there are free alternatives (albeit elsewhere in the country, at least the ones I knew about). I wish the Coinstar folks all the success in the world but I don't wish to do business with them at those unreasonable terms.

Anyways, that's neither here nor there. If you have any other questions about the wording, feel free to drop me a MeMail any time.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 AM on March 19, 2008

I agree that CoinStar is a rip-off.

Your Local Bank (YLB) probably has coin counting machines. Mine does (credit union) and counts change for it's customers at no fee.
posted by unixrat at 4:20 AM on March 19, 2008

BECU is a member of the credit union network, so you should be able to go to other credit union offices that are also members. For example, Qualstar CU and seemingly many others. If you search on the BECU site for the "Non-BECU Locations" you can see some of the others.

This comment on another AskMe says that First Tech credit unions have counting machines.

Also, have you seen this list of low-cost coin counters in WA? It says it hasn't been updated in many years, but it might give you a starting point.
posted by cabingirl at 6:49 AM on March 19, 2008

Thanks to everyone for the advice. Much appreciated.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:29 PM on March 19, 2008

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