How Does Coinstar Work?


Coinstar is a company that provides kiosks for turning change into paper bills, eCertificates, gift cards, PayPal funds or charitable donations. According to the company website, it also is possible to trade in gift certificates for cash. The kiosks are located in retail outlets and financial institutions, which are paid a percentage for offering the service.

Coinstar users can choose to print out a paper certificate, which shows the face value of the coins traded in, minus the coin processing fee. As of June 2014, this fee is 10.9 percent, according to Coinstar. The company notes that fees may vary by location and that some retailers or financial institutions may subsidize the fee. However, if users choose to turn their funds into eCertificates or nationally branded gift cards, the transaction is free.

Money donated to charities approved for the "Coins that Count" program incurs a processing fee, but it is lower than the standard fee. As of June 2104, this fee is 7.5 percent, Coinstar says. All money donated via Coinstar is 100 percent tax deductible to the giver. For charities other than those already listed in the Coinstar charity program, a rebate may be available if the total amount donated is at least $1,500 and is going to a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.