I Gladly Paid A 9.8% Fee To Have My Coins Counted

I know there is much written about low fees and costs on all the personal finance blogs, but you always have to remember that the other side of the equation is value. Sometimes a high relative fee can be stomached, and quite easily at that. Case in point: I had about three big jars of loose change that had accumulated on my dresser. This was an eyesore to Fiona so she suggested that we take it down to the local grocery story which has one of those coin counters that you can just dump the coins into and it will sort and count all your change. It then provides a receipt which you take to a cashier who will give you cash for it.

I was reading the fine print on the machine as Fiona started emptying the coins and at first I was taken aback by the line that indicated that the counting and sorting fee was 9.8 cents for every dollar. That is a 9.8% fee. I had figured there was maybe $30 to $40 in change that we had brought so in my mind $3 or $4 didn’t sound so bad after all. But half way through the second jar we were already at $60. In the end the total amount sorted was roughly $120, and after the fee was about $110. (It was also kind enough to return some Euros and Rupees and TTC tokens that had made their way into the jars!)

So, in the end, what would’ve taken me a good chunk of a day (call it four hours), was accomplished by this machine in about 5 minutes for $10. My time is worth much more to me than $2.50/hour so I’m quite happy with the results, despite the 9.8% fee.

Preet Banerjee
Preet Banerjee
...is an independent consultant to the financial services industry and a personal finance commentator. You can learn more about Preet at his personal website and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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Showing 17 comments
  • Mark Wolfinger

    Maybe the answer is to spend the coins instead of collecting them.


  • Christopher Hylarides

    Select TD branches have free coin sorting machines, even if you’re not a TD customer.

  • Connnie

    I saw one at a mall. It doesn’t charge any fee but you get your money in a gift card. For me that works. Eventually I will need something at that mall (especially if there is a department store…this one has a Toys’r’us…cha ching) and will pull out the gift card. Saves space but may keep your money out of your pocket for a bit.

  • Michael James

    To optimize a little, it probably makes sense to pick out most of the quarters, loonies, and toonies (twonies?) first, but I agree that it makes no sense to waste a lot of time on hundreds of pennies.

  • Four Pillars

    That’s what I do. I started with pennies and nickels, now I’m up to dimes.

    As MJ said I take out quarters and larger (I’m sure you took out the loonies/toonies).

    Coins are hard to spend.

  • Big Hockey Man

    You could buy a coin sorting machine too. Our “canteen” at work has one that sorts into rollers, given the amount of change they need to sort this made the most sense (not sure of cost).

    Need to find one of those TD Free sorters soon (hopefully it gives me back all my 10P coins too).

  • Cdn Couch Potato

    Preet, give me a call next time and I’ll count them for you for 5%.

  • Michael

    I have 2 jars for coins at home. First one is for quarters, loonies, toonies. Second one is for pennies, nickels, dimes. The larger coins get spent (usually in parking meters!) and the smaller ones get dumped into the 10% fee machine at the grocery store (usually takes > 1 yr to fill). The pre-sorting into 2 jars makes it easy. I try to avoid coins in the first place but this system has worked well for many years.

  • Ink-Stained Gorilla

    Good post. I had the same response to real estate. People complain about a 1.5% fee on a mutual fund, but will often pay in excess of 5% on a home listing.

  • Michael James

    Gorilla: The difference is that your real estate agent won’t show up again next year demanding another 5%. The mutual fund will hit you year after year for yet another 1.5% (more like 2-3% in Canada). The real estate agent is expensive, but still cheaper than a mutual fund if you stay in your house for longer than 3 years.

  • Doctor Stock

    Yip… at some point, you have to evaluate how much you would pay yourself. Some have more time… some have more money – this is a market in and of itself.

  • Preet

    @ Mark Wolfinger: easier said than done!

    @ Christopher: thanks for the link – good find.

    @ Connie: I would also have little problems with that alternative.

    @ Michael James: yes, we plucked the bigger coins out from the sorting pan. It was like finding gold. Well, maybe not that dramatic.

    @ Big Hockey Man: anything like the Deathstar Canteen? Youtube that if you don’t know what I mean.

    @ Cdn Couch Potato: You’re on! You’ll regret it, I’ll bet!

  • David

    Your time isn’t worth anything if you weren’t going to make any money any way. I agree though, counting coins is a waste of time, that’s why I’m glad my gf is happy to do it for me.

  • Mark Wolfinger

    Coins are easy to spend. I always carry 9 pennies when i plan to pay with cash. That way I get some out of my house with great frequency. I spend the required 0-5 pennies, and always give 5 extra pennies.

    The big pile of pennies has dwindled.

    • Preet

      Hmm. I think my 9.8% fee trumps your 50%+ fee!

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