How to Cash in Coins

Coin currency

Currency comes in many forms, from coins to paper bills and even digital wallets. But what makes one form of currency more valuable than another? And what happens when there is a shortage of coins in the economy? This article explores these questions and more.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were enough coins moving around in the economy to cover most transactions. But with businesses and banks closed, the flow of coins slowed down. Now, more people are asking how they can cash in their coins and where to find the best options for doing so. The answers to these questions and others are available on the Federal Reserve Board’s Currency and Coin Frequently Asked Questions page.

The first step in exchanging coins for cash is to roll them up. This is a cheap, easy-to-do task that can make them much easier to handle when it comes time to take them to a bank or other location that offers coin exchanges. You can buy rolls of coin wrappers online or at many dollar and office-supply stores. Before you start rolling, it’s helpful to organize your coins into stacks by value. This will make it easier to count them, as you can quickly pick out a pile of pennies or one-dollar coins and multiply their value by the number in the group. For example, a stack of five quarters is worth $10 because it contains 25 cents each.

Some big national banks still offer coin exchange services at all of their branches, and they may waive fees for customers or charge a small fee for noncustomers. You can also ask a local bank or credit union if they have an exchange service, and they’ll likely tell you what their policy is on accepting rolled coins. Some banks have self-service machines for coin exchanges, while others require you to work with a teller.

Another option is to donate your coins to a charity that accepts them. Several local food banks and shelters can use your spare change to provide much-needed food and other supplies for their neighbors. To find a charity near you, visit the website of the Federal Reserve System’s Community Resources and Constituent Engagement program.

Lastly, you can also consider giving your coins to a school or other nonprofit organization that uses them for educational purposes. Many parents and elementary school teachers teach coin-counting and math lessons, and students can often benefit from having actual coins to use for practice.

Heather Hennerich is a senior editor with the St. Louis Fed External Engagement and Corporate Communications Division. Her blog explains everyday economics and consumer topics, as well as spotlights the people and programs that make the St. Louis Fed central to America’s economy. Her views do not necessarily reflect those of the Fed or its board of governors.