With the departure of telephone booths from the landscape, the only publicly available spare-change-finding opportunity now is collecting and redeeming deposit bottles and cans (unless you follow my other tip). But you probably also have one or both of these other two auxiliary revenue sources in your own home:
Tip #1: Reclaim Remnant Visa/MC/Amex/etc Gift Cards
Remember that prepaid card someone gave you for a birthday/wedding/office bonus/etc? It was probably for a full dollar amount ($25/$50/$100 etc). You used it until you couldn’t find something that cost exactly what remained on the card ($1.03?!), then tossed it into a bag or drawer and forgot about it.
Pull it out and do this (assuming it is a general card like Visa, not a store-specific card like Stop & Shop):
1. If you don’t know how much, if any, remaining value it has read its fine print for the website or phone # you can use to find out, and do that (re-check even if you think it’s all gone – you can recover ANY amount of at least 15 cents!). If the website gives you an option to register the card with your name and address, do that. If they give specific instructions for how to use it on a website, read that.
2. Log into your Amazon account and go to the page for purchasing an Amazon gift card and sending by email.
3. Choose a random card type, enter the exact amount remaining on your remnant gift card, put in one of your own email addresses as the recipient, click “add to order” and “proceed to checkout”.
4. If you haven’t sent an Amazon gift card to that email address before, you will be immediately directed to a request to enter a new credit card; if this doesn’t happen just go to the “manage payment options” link for your account.
5. In either case, enter the remnant gift card information as a new credit card. The card doesn’t have your name embossed on it, so enter something in the name field to identify it as a gift card you’ll want to delete later, e.g., “Betty Giftcard”
6. Complete the checkout by choosing to pay for the Amazon gift card with the remnant gift card.
7. When you receive the Amazon gift code via email, return to the site and use Apply Gift Card To your Account to add that amount for use the next time you shop. Also go into “manage payment options” and delete the now totally drained remnant gift card.
Tip #2: Spare Change Conversion
Sure, you could take that jar of random coins to a bank, when it’s open, stand in line forever, and annoy the one bank clerk and everyone else behind you because you know that the CoinStar machine at the supermarket will take nearly 10% of the amount to give you back bills… But did you know you can avoid that fee?!
In Massachusetts (and probably other locations, but check your local machine first as their site says “select locations”) coin counting is free if you convert your change to a nationally-branded gift card or eCertificate.
Here again my personal choice is to get an Amazon gift code, but you may prefer other choices like a gift card for the grocery store in which the machine is located, iTunes credit, etc. Just use the machine to count your coins, then select the type of gift code you want to receive and it’s printed out on the receipt ready for you to enter into your Amazon or other account and receive the full amount of the coins.