If you’re wondering how to avoid the Coinstar fee, you’re not alone. After all, many of us love using the famous kiosks to turn our coins into cash, especially since we don’t have to count all of our pennies, nickels, and dimes to do so. But the one thing every Coinstar fan dreads is the 11.9 percent fee at the end. Who likes giving away extra money that we saved for ourselves? The good news is that there is a way to bypass the Coinstar fee — in a manner that’s safe, legal, and even encouraged by Coinstar itself.
The next time you take your coin jar to your local kiosk at the grocery store or pharmacy, pay close attention to your options after you deposit the change. As you’re probably aware, the kiosk will tell you the total amount of money you put in, along with the fee you owe if you get cash. But don’t get distracted by the "cash" option. As tempting as it is to have those physical dollars in your hand, try opting for the "gift card" choice instead. When you pick a gift card, you get all your money back on that card — without any of the pesky fee you’d get for picking cash.
"That’s right; keep every penny for yourself when you choose to cash in your coins for an eGift Card to any one of our store and restaurant partners," Coinstar declares on its website. "Our paper eGift Cards have a unique code printed on them. They work just like plastic gift cards. Use your code when you pay at the store or when shopping online."
Currently, Coinstar lists Amazon, Applebee’s, Best Buy, Gamestop, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Home Depot, and iTunes as potential gift cards you can get at Coinstar kiosks. It’s worth keeping in mind that these gift card options vary by location, and not all of them are available at every single kiosk. But Coinstar is also in the process of updating the gift card selection to eventually offer a totally new lineup for customers. So you’ll definitely want to keep your eyes peeled for interesting new options at the kiosk closest to you.
Talk about getting more bang for your buck!