My New Spare Change Record: $901.54!

Do you know how HARD it is to bring in 5,000+ coins to a changer machine? And then wait there hearing the cling an clangs forever and the machine breaking every two minutes while you’re back is trying to recover? Haha… It’s a good problem to have I guess ;)

Although to be fair, it wasn’t *true* spare change like my previous trips to the coin counters (aka my bank who doesn’t charge any fees – no more Coinstar for me!!). Remember back in the Fall when my coin addiction started up and I was taking home rolls and rolls, and even more rolls of coins to sort through for my my Blue Books? So I could get every date and mint mark of each denomination for the past 60+ years, as well as search for that sexy valuable silver? Which I hardly found? Haha… Well that’s why I had such a massive pile of change stored up. And why it took me TWO TRIPS to knock it out too – those things are heavy!!

Speaking of silver though, during one of these trips I was stopped by the manager and asked if he could look through everything as I was pouring ’em into the machine. I asked him if it was because he was looking for silver by chance, and he kinda paused for a second as if he just got caught doing something he shouldn’t be (which is kinda true), and he nervously chuckled saying that he indeed was ;) I told him not to bother as I’ve already done so, and asked him if he’s had luck doing that with other customers before? Trying to be friendly with him and see if he’d tell me anything juicy.

“Yes! Last year alone I made $10,000 from silver. I swapped it all out from the bank and then threw it in my safe.”

He then went to say this one customer turned in over $200 worth of old Morgan silver dollars (worth $30-$40 a pop at the time, even though the face value only shows $1.00), and the lady just wanted her $200 into her savings account. So collected all 200 coins, put $200 of his own dollars into the account instead, and took them all home with him!! Netting him at LEAST $6,000 if none of those coins had even more value on rarity, jeez… And had he also turned around and sold them to a silver & gold place too when the price was hovering around $35 an ounce (now in the low $20s, btw).

So obviously I didn’t have to worry about getting caught *myself* with dumping back the $500 box worth of half dollars I ordered from them in hopes of finding that precious silver too (I failed miserably).

But what about the customers in these cases? Is it wrong for bank tellers not to speak up when someone’s turning over thousands of dollars worth of coins knowing full well they’re getting ripped off? Or do you just chalk it up to one of the benefits of working for a bank? Looking afar it seems pretty messed up if you ask me, but then again I’m not sure how I’d handle the situation better myself? Just wonder how ethical it is in the end, and/or if the banks have some sort of policy on this?

Anyways, it was a hell of an adventure dragging in all those coins and watching the bags fill up one by one in the machine and having to wait for the tellers to keep swapping them out :) That’s the most I’ve ever carried OR gotten back in cash from any of my change turning in trips… My previous record was $101.62! Haha… And then $84.76 before that, and lastly $76.48. That’s quite the jump.

Here was how this latest batch broke down, for all you number nerds out there:

  • 1,754 pennies = $17.54
  • 1,003 nickels = $50.15
  • 636 dimes = $63.60
  • 747 quarters = $186.75
  • 1,007 half dollars = $503.50
  • 80 dollar coins = $80.00
  • Total coins: 5,227
  • Total cash: $901.54

And again, because I used the machine at my bank instead of a commercial one I saved over $90 in fees. Pretty good!! (I use Capital One btw, but only ‘cuz USAA still doesn’t offer business accounts which I use them for. Though in this case it actually worked out pretty well!)

Anyone else have some impressive spare change records? Anyone work for a bank or are better at finding valuable coins in their rolls than me? There’s always someone hustling somewhere!

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  1. My Financial Independence Journey April 30, 2013 at 5:37 AM

    That is an obscene amount of coins. I think my record is maybe $50 or so.

  2. jane savers @ solving the money puzzle April 30, 2013 at 6:41 AM

    Not telling the woman about the value of her Morgan silver dollars was unethical.

    1. Retire By 40 April 30, 2013 at 12:04 PM

      That’s unethical. It’s just plain stealing.
      We keep our coin in a cup and go to the bank when it fills up so we don’t get that much each time. Maybe $10-$20.

  3. Lance @ Money Life and More April 30, 2013 at 7:28 AM

    I didn’t know about the silver (or didn’t think about it) when I worked at bowling alleys and pizza huts as a cashier. I did keep odd coins though, like Susan B Anthony dollars, two dollar bills and those bicentennial quarters. I know they’re not worth anything, but they’re cool.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM

      Yeah they are! I’m always saving up $2.00 bills – they’re fun to use for tips or at yard sales too, people get a kick out of them :)

  4. Greg@ClubThrifty April 30, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    Nice! Well done my friend.

    Honestly, I think people should probably speak up just to be a good person. It isn’t quite stealing, but it is pretty close. It is pretty slimy. I’m guessing his superiors would probably can him in an instant if they found out he was doing that.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      And to think he was a MANAGER too!

  5. Paul April 30, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Also, USAA does not have very many local branches ;)

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      I know – not optimal for coin changing in :)

  6. Brian April 30, 2013 at 8:03 AM

    Did you sort those cents to pre-1982 and post 1982? Pre 1982 are 95% copper and at current prices are worth a little over $0.02 a piece. Of course it is illegal to melt them down and a pain in the butt to store them… but some of us do anyways.

    I’ve never come close to that amount put through a coin machine, but back when I was really sorting half dollars I was buying $500 box(es) from one bank and turning them into another. Of course that is nothing compared the Mr Pickles who purchased a pallet of those dollar coins from the mint on his credit card for airline miles and then turned them into several banks.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      NICE! I remember people doing that back in the day before they outlawed it w/ credit cards… Brilliant idea :) (And no – I don’t sort the pennies, not worth it for me at least right now)

  7. Edward Antrobus April 30, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    When my brother worked at a bank, we would buy $2 bills from the till. If people ever decide that $2 bills are worth more than $2, he has about 50 of them.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      Haha… your brother is someone I’d probably be good friends with :)

  8. Well Heeled Blog April 30, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    I once paid for a movie ticket (back in 1998 or so) with quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. I thought it was a riot but I bet the ticket counter attendant didn’t find it so funny. Other than that, I never keep much change around because I typically don’t have much cash with me.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      That’s awesome :) My friend once paid $40.00 worth of gas in nickels – it was crazy!

  9. Jacqueline April 30, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    Besides the unethical component of not telling the customer the true value of what they have when you are able, the banker is guilty of extortion since the coins belong to the bank. He isn’t exactly “stealing” because he is replacing the face value of the coins, but he is still using the bank’s property to increase his own personal assets, a.k.a. extortion, a federal crime.

    1. downunder sugarglider April 30, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      this is exactly what I came here to say re: ethics, possible fraud, and personal gain from the bank’s assets.
      I don’t know about the USA banking system but the aussie system is highly regulated to limit potential fraud, and no-one is supposed to just handle the cash in the tellers boxes. Whilst it all seems innocent at first, one day he could slip the wrong change and the teller has to face the consequences of not balancing.
      otherwise – good for you for not just dissappating all those coins, or leaving them lying around risking being stolen, but banking them and now you can start your piggy bank again. I used to have a practice of having a piggy bank at door. when i came home from work every day I would empty my coins into the piggy. Until I ran out of coins one too many times!

      1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:20 AM

        GREAT idea putting it next to the door! I have mine next to my bed for when I empty out my pockets every night. That, and I like being near money!! Haha..

    2. JP April 30, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      Maybe not extortion, but probably conversion. Certainly borderline unethical, at least in the setting of a financial institution as they owe a fiduciary duty to their clients to help them manage their assets properly. I agree with the above poster who said he should get canned — however, if he was braizen enough to simply come look through the money you were changing, it could be an accepted practice at that bank branch.

    3. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      Oooh “extortion” – hadn’t thought about that one… it’s possible!

  10. Michelle April 30, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    Wow that’s crazy! I never have change so I don’t know if it’d ever add up to something significant.

  11. Reese April 30, 2013 at 8:42 AM

    You won’t pay any Coinstar fees if you take your money as a gift card, and they have MANY options for gift cards. I always get them for; very convenient.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM

      That’s a good idea! I always forget they have that option… Amazon would be dope!

  12. Zenee Miller April 30, 2013 at 8:43 AM

    Impressive! Did the bank give you back the fee even though it is printed on the receipt?

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:26 AM

      Yup! I paid $0.00 for the service – it was awesome :) (And also, I would have never done it anyways if it DID cost – I would have found another way to cash ’em in…)

  13. Jolie April 30, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Ohh that sounds like great fun! Reminds me of when I saved up loonies and took in about $1000 to cash out. Bought my wedding dress, veil, shoes, etc. :-)

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:26 AM


  14. Jacob Erickson April 30, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    Wow, that’s insane! I’ve been saving change for a long, long time, but I still only have around $200 or so. I rarely ever use cash anymore so it’s tough to build that amount up anymore.

  15. KC @ genxfinance April 30, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Whoaw! That’s a whole lot of coins. I just went maybe to a hundred, a hundred and fifty max, in spare change. No more than that.

  16. phriot April 30, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    I used a Coinstar machine a couple of times in high school. One time, I asked my mother to bring my coins for me, and she got so mad about the fee that she made me roll all my coins after that. I don’t mind rolling coins, but I was still happy when our bank got a no-fee machine a few years later.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:27 AM

      Haha… a lot more fun to do that as a little kid than an adult too!

  17. John S @ Frugal Rules April 30, 2013 at 10:13 AM

    Wow, that’s a crazy amount of coinage! Now your goal should be to hit a cool grand. ;) Our biggest haul was just over $200 last year. I do wish that USAA had more local braches, that would be sweet.

  18. Emily @ evolvingPF April 30, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    That seems really unethical! He’s abusing his position and shirking work for his own gain. I might let not telling the person about the coins pass if they just went to the bank and then out again to some other lucky person (like you). But to not tell them and then to exchange them for himself is really slimy.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Oh yeah, they were totally not gonna tell anyone about what they were looking for in there. Sneaky devils!

  19. Shafi April 30, 2013 at 10:44 AM

    I did that a couple of times way back in the 1980s. Now I keep coins in the car in that little built-in coin container and spend the money right away whenever and wherever I can.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:29 AM

      That’s a good idea. I keep a few dollars in ours for when homeless people ask waiting at lights, but it would be smart to spend the coins too when you can as well. If you’re using cash, of course.

  20. Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) April 30, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    Wahoo way to go racking up 900+ bucks. How cool are you?

    As far as the bank manager there, I think it was a bit unethical to not let them know. On one hand, people should do their research when they see a somewhat unusual coin. On the other, if I was the manager, I would have told them, as the whole idea of using their own money then taking the silver home seems super sketch.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      And even more so when you ARE the manager doing it! Haha…

  21. SavvyFinancialLatina April 30, 2013 at 10:51 AM

    I have a piggy bank for my spare change. Right now I think I barely have $5 in it. I don’t use a lot of cash, so it’s hard to collect coins.

  22. Adam April 30, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    I’ve never seen a bank with a coin counting machine in it where I live. Coinstar is the only option. I remember when I used it once and brought in a shoe box with $200 in change in it. It was heavy! I did the Amazon Gift Card redemption so there were no fees.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM

      I def. like that Amazon route – VERY smart of Coinstar! I bet you’ll start seeing them now that you know the machines are out there now :) Sometimes they’re pretty hidden at the branches.

  23. Nick @ April 30, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    When I worked as a teller we used to have people come in all the time who didn’t understand the value of their money. One time I even helped a person that had several $500 bills. My employer had a very strict policy about handling these situations, but even if they didn’t I wouldn’t have taken advantage of those people, that’s just plain wrong.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      Wowwww $500 bills??? SO COOL!! And yes – so much more valuable than just $500! I’d just pray that after telling them what they have on their hands, that they’d let me take one of them off ’em :) Or maybe you could even help them take it to a dealer and sell them and get some sort of commission? That would be sexy. Win-win for all, right?

  24. Trinnie April 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    I literally almost screamed out loud, here at work, when I read about this manager’s shady techniques to get silver. That has to be one of the most unethical things I’ve ever seen. And to think that he had absolutely no problem in doing it, either. WOW.

    The “customer” should also have responsbility to know what exactly they have, coin wise, but really?!??!??! I’m sure he’s violating his employers’ code of ethics by this act. How quickly people forget they represent a company when doing something that is only going to benefit themselves. and how stupid to give himself away to you. AHHHH!!! I’m so upset right now.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:34 AM

      Makes you wonder how far up it goes in the chain though, right? Maybe they all do that and it’s okay’d as a policy? Def not at the corporate level though – I’m sure they’d be pretty shocked if they found out.

  25. Grayson @ Debt Roundup April 30, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    Wow, what a number of coins. I was able to strike it near $300 last year and that felt like a lot of change, but you have me beat easily. I am on the fence about bank employees not telling their customers about the coins.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      Well, I kinda cheated since I took out boxes and rolls of coins at a time, but technically yes – I’m in the lead ;) Your $300 would beat any of my other days though for sure!

  26. Johnny @ Our Freaking Budget April 30, 2013 at 1:00 PM

    Booooo to the teller. Kinda douche-y if you ask me.

    I used to LOVE going to the Coinstar machine in middle school and high school. I have no idea how I’d consistently have that much change to necessitate using the machine, but whatever money came out of those trips would be spent stat. Movies, Taco Bell, the world was my oyster with that $11.23. I funded my senior year Spring Break trip to San Diego/Tijuana with one massive $150ish Coinstar dumping.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      HAH! The last time I was in Tijuana I almost got mugged. Def. not going back at night for quite some time :)

  27. maria@moneyprinciple April 30, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    This is crazy, J$, but I bet it feels so good. I have a jar but haven’t put anything in it for over a year. It still has about $15 in small coins. My favourite was to pay with small change in the local shop – practicing for being an old diddy.

  28. Jonathan April 30, 2013 at 4:18 PM

    We operate a couple of coin-op washers and dryers, and every 4-6 weeks I go and empty all the quarters. They probably bring in $500-$600 in quarters a month, and we only take them to the bank every two trips. Those suckers are heavy! Fortunately we don’t have to sit at a machine. The teller takes the quarters as a deposit, and later on they count them and the amounts post into the account.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:37 AM

      Ooooooh! You should totally sort through them and see if you have any rare or silver quarters in there! Not sure if the machine would pop them out or not since they’d weigh differently and what not, but man I’d have myself entertained for HOURS if I was in charge of all that change :) You have to be a big coin nerd for that.

  29. stephanie April 30, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    oooh J-huge SEXY score dude!
    I think the manager is a piece of swamp slime. Wait, don’t want to insult the swamp slime out there! His actions are dubious at best. He will get caught ’cause we all know the Karma godess may not be swift to act, but Karma-justice must be served. If he’d done that to me, I’d have had a very serious talk with his manager. I’d like to think I’m your basic intelligent human being/girlie; imagine what that guy is doing to people who don’t understand money. What a waste of a great opportunity to be the hand that helps someone. grrrr I’m so mad I could just spit. (I gave up swearing for Lent, and this time it stuck)

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      Haha GOOD FOR YOU!! I love it when Lent goals stay around much longer – that’s awesome :) And swearing is a good one to give up too, albeit super hard.

  30. mobilechad April 30, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    I hit the CoinStar machines twice a year. My record is $295.xx with most trips over a $100. I tend to pay cash for everything (which means lots of change). I usually flip the cash into Amazon gift cards for 2 reasons:
    1. No fees if you convert to a GC instead of getting cash, and
    2. I’ve yet to find something I need, other than groceries, that I can’t get from Amazon. I’m sure there’s stuff out there, but between Amazon and 3rd party sellers they’ve got just about everything.

    My last batch was $138.xx which I flipped to Amazon and then used to buy stuff for my upcoming backpacking trip to Europe.

    1. J. Money May 1, 2013 at 11:39 AM

      Awesome! And you’re so right – you can get just about everything off Amazon these days, which is why I keep buying stock in them! :)

  31. Rich Uncle EL May 2, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    My record is only about 90 dollars. I have to spend more to get more change. So I am ok with not spending more. Ha.

  32. Scott May 2, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    That’s definitely wrong that as an employee of the bank he’s doing that. Since he has such a vested personal interest in personal gain, he’s not at all caring about the customers best interest.

    PS – a $52+ fee on the coin sorting? SHAME. That’s more than a 5.5% charge! BOO on that decision.

  33. J. Money May 3, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    What $52 fee? I got mine for free! WOO! The pros to using a machine at your own bank :)

  34. Heather May 3, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    There is a guy who comes into the bank I manage and picks up at least four boxes of pennies each week, sometimes up to EIGHT boxes. He’s always looking for old pennies. Sometimes he’ll bring in boxes of pennies that he has ROLLED himself at home (all the ones he doesn’t want).

    It is SO SO SO SO SO SO annoying. SERIOUSLY. Do people not have anything better with their time? I cringe every time he walks in because I happen to be a very small person and it takes a lot of heavy lifting to get those boxes and boxes of pennies out of the vault.

    So I urge you not to do this to your bank tellers. It really is annoying and they are all looking at you like you are insane.

  35. J. Money May 6, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    That def. sucks, sorry to hear :( Y’all don’t have a coin machine or something people can use instead so you don’t have to carry or count anything? I guess if he likes to roll them up himself it doesn’t really help though…

  36. Jamie May 4, 2015 at 4:38 AM

    Sadly, we don’t have access to Coinstar for US money over here (stationed in the UK), and the UK Coinstar machines don’t have no-fee options (ie, no Amazon gift card option), so we will have to turn all our change into the bank the old fashioned way (bagged/rolled).

    BUT… for the most part all our change gets tossed into a big 5-gallon water jug. Every time we move, we deposit that change in the bank! Last PCS we had over $700, saved over 4 years. Since the British have $1/$2 coins and we tend to toss those in a jar as well (change really only gets used at the car park), I imagine we will have a huge chunk of change when we move in a few years!

    1. J. Money May 4, 2015 at 4:22 PM

      Yes! Love!

      I bet it’s fun as hell bringing that big ol’ jug over to a bank, haha.. Unless you really have to roll all of those first – wow. That would take some time alright…

      But for $700 it would be well worth it :)