When I learned about Coinstar's holiday bonus promotion on My Money Blog, I decided it was time to finally cash in all the coins I've been harvesting. The promo is that if you turn in at least $40 worth of coins in exchange for an e-certificate or a gift card, you get an extra $10 bonus via mail-in rebate.
I'd never used a Coinstar machine before. When they first came out, I thought they were a rip off because they charged 7 cents per dollar (i.e., 7%) to count your coins for you. Not being one to pay someone to do something I can do myself, no matter how tedious, I continued to roll my coins and carry them to the bank when I had enough.
Nowadays, Coinstar charges about 9% for you to turn your coins into cash, but if you turn them into a gift certificate, you get the full value of your coins. Since there are plenty of stores where a gift certificate is as good to me as cash, I think this is a great deal. Add a $10 bonus and I'll actually take the time to find a store with a coinstar machine and haul my change to it.
The whole process was extremely easy and I would absolutely do it again. It takes the machine a while to count the coins, and it's heavy lugging all those coins to the store, but that was the extent of the hassle involved, if you could even call it that. I got a $56 e-certificate for Amazon.com because I wasn't sure how an e-certificate for Lowe's would work. Would I have to buy something from them online? I only wanted something I could use in-store for them. At the time I was actually at the machine, I could remember the details of the promotion. I just remembered that Jonathan from My Money Blog had gotten an e-certificate for Amazon so I did that, too. I put my rebate coupon in the mail today. And I'm thrilled that I had so much money in change! I had no idea I had that much.
The only thing I would probably do differently next time is to put my coins in a gallon ziplock bag instead of a shoebox. It was awkward to pour my coins into the machine from the shoebox and I spilled some on the floor.
When the machine was done counting my coins, it printed out a receipt on thicker than usual paper that had my e-certificate code. When I got home, I logged into my Amazon account and entered the code. Now I can use it whenever I want. The machine also spits out gift cards if you'd prefer something more tangible or that can be used instantly.