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I recently found out that my bank (Wells Fargo) no longer accepts loose (unrolled) change when I took in a bucket of change that I wanted to deposit into my account. Apparently, they do not have coin counters anymore. They told me to roll the change (but refused to provide rolls) or to go to Walmart with my change (for a 5% fee). I have a few questions about this.

  1. Is this even legal? How can a bank refuse to deposit legal tender in the United States?
  2. What do I do with my change? I do not want to spend the time rolling it, and I am not going to pay a fee to cash my change.

Update: Upon thinking about this more I am really interested in the legality of this issue. Essentially how is it legal that a bank can refuse to accept my money as a deposit.

An additional question that has arose is regarding debts. If I take bag of change in to make a payment on my credit card or mortgage at the bank would it be legal for them to turn me down?

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    Weird, Wells Fargo gave me a stack of paper sleeves two months ago. – user662852 Aug 31 '17 at 21:16
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    A couple years ago we got a bunch of sleeves from the bank, then they were agitated when we brought in rolled coins to deposit, was silly. – Hart CO Aug 31 '17 at 22:02
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    If you use Amazon much, just bring it to a coinstar machine, those give you 100% value if you take it as an amazon credit. (That may not last forever, double-check before dumping all your coins in!) – Kevin Aug 31 '17 at 22:14
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    Bank of america is the same way I went in one around four years ago and they said "go roll them and then we'll take them". I went to walmart and bought coin rolls for like four bucks. Rolled up about 100 bucks worth of change. Went to deposit it and they looked so angry when I went to deposit it. I hate banks! – JonH Sep 1 '17 at 3:42
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    You should consider shopping around to other banks to see if they offer this service. If you care enough about it, you could switch to another bank. – BrenBarn Sep 1 '17 at 7:07
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Is this even legal? How can a bank refuse to deposit legal tender in the United States?

Legal for all debts, public or private, doesn't mean quite what I used to think, either. Per The Fed:

This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.

Yes, they can refuse loose change. Also, they aren't refusing your deposit, just requiring that it be rolled.

What do I do with my change? I do not want to spend the time rolling it, and I am not going to pay a fee to cash my change.

There aren't many other options, change is a nuisance. I believe Coinstar machines reduce/remove their fee if you exchange coins for gift cards, so that might be the best option for convenience and retaining value.

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    So I can't walk in with coins to deposit into my checking account, but I could walk in with coins to pay my mortgage? – Shawaron Aug 31 '17 at 22:06
  • @quid [...] for goods and services. They must accept it for debt. It's in the quote ;) or I am misreading it lol – Eric Aug 31 '17 at 22:31
  • @Eric I read too fast lol – quid Aug 31 '17 at 22:48
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    This is a good answer, so I'd like to suggest one additional option - just go to a bank that's more consumer-customer friendly and will accept non-rolled coin deposits. Many banks and credit unions have coin counting machines they let you use for zero fee when you are depositing the proceeds, and some are happy to provide this as a full-service arrangement as well. – BrianH Sep 1 '17 at 0:09
  • @Shawaron It sounds like they could equally refuse the form of your change when paying your mortgage too. IE, they could require it to be rolled to pay your mortgage just as easily. They aren't refusing the tender, just requiring it in a certain form. – WakeDemons3 Apr 10 '18 at 15:50
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Legality

They cannot refuse to accept coins and demand some other payment after providing a good or service. Legal tender is legal tender for all debts. But until they provide the good or service, they don't have to accept it.

In this case, you want the service of depositing money. But by its nature, they have to accept the payment first. In that situation, they can refuse it. There is no law that banks have to accept your deposits. If they don't want you as a customer, that's their problem.

Consider switching banks. Historically this was easier and some banks may still do things the old way. Call your local banks and ask. Perhaps you'll find someone happy to do business with you, on your terms.

Depositing coins

As already said, some coin rolling machines will pay you with gift certificates. If you plan to buy a sufficient amount from the place that accepts the gift certificate, this can get that place to play the fee. That may help you, although it is obviously a limited solution. The goal is to make it so that you only make purchases that you would have anyway. The seller obviously has a different goal.

It's possible to buy coin sorters. Heck, you could buy one with a gift certificate from a public machine. Cheap ones require extra work to get the coins rolled and may jam a lot. More expensive ones do more of the work for you. Note that a given sorter that works better may be cheaper than another that doesn't work as well. Cheap is more of a qualitative judgment than a financial measure in this case.

Spending coins

If you carry a small amount of change with you, pretty much everywhere accepts small amounts of change for purchases. So if you have been always paying with dollars and dumping the change in a jar, instead always give the correct change (coins). They may still give you dollars in change, but at least you won't get new coins. And you'll use some of your existing coins. Of course, this doesn't scale well.

For small purchases, say $1.50, you can often pay the whole thing in change without argument. Or if something is $18.50, you might give them $10, $5, two $1 bills, and the rest in change.

If you are buying something and can see that they have little change in one of the coin buckets, offer to swap some change for bills. Sometimes places find that easier than breaking a roll.

With vending machines, use change instead of dollar bills. Especially use exact change so as not to convert bills to change. They usually don't take pennies, but they're great with nickels and above.

This won't allow you to use change as a way to force yourself to save. But it will keep your change down to a manageable level going forward. And you might be able to use up your existing store. I'm assuming that this isn't a fifty year coin collection that you are just now starting to process. But if you have six months of change, you should be able to use it up in a year or so.

I tend to do this. So I rarely have more than a couple dollars in change. No one ever tells me that they don't take change, because I don't give anyone a lot. Maybe $.99 here but more likely $.43 there. Sometimes I give them, e.g., $.07 so as to get $.25 in change rather than $.18.

It's a little more work at every transaction, but it saves the big clump of work of rolling the coins. And you don't have to buy wrappers.

  • This is a great answer to the other question, "how do I get rid of my change"? But you don't answer the question asked, "is this legal?" – JoeTaxpayer Aug 31 '17 at 23:39
  • Not only will you rarely have a problem spending small amounts of change, you are actually doing the merchant a favor (although not necessarily the individual cashier). They need change in the till for the next person who pays with a whole dollar bill or more, and sometimes end up running low on change by the end of the day (although in the age of credit cards this doesn't happen as often as it used to). The bigger practical problem with using change tends to be that in the USA, it is hard to find a wallet with a coin compartment. – Kevin Keane Sep 1 '17 at 3:14
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    You can move at a faster pace than that. I made a habit to leave with $5 in change every day and tried to unload $2-3 with every cash purchase. Retailers never had a problem with that, and it goes much faster than you'd think, often running out of change before I ran out of retail opportunities to dump it. Quarters can be traded to any friend who does coin laundry. Vending machines, transit ticket vendors, will take nickels all day. Pennies, forget it, just pay the 5% on those. – Harper Sep 1 '17 at 3:56
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The bank certainly doesn't have to take it for a deposit; that's not a debt.

There have been several cases where disgruntled debtors have attempted deliberately annoying ways to pay their debts; the apocryphal example being pennies. Courts are not likely to support such efforts since it's obvious that a) the action is malicious and (relevant to you) b) it's really on you to maintain your money in a wieldy form.

If you allow your money to become unwieldy, nobody owes you anything.

I wonder about the meta-meaning of that. And whether, in that light it really makes sense to worry about 5% or rolling.

As far as getting rid of it, when I bought out a girlfriend's piggybank at par, I just made sure to walk out of the house with $5 in change in my pocket and unload $2-3 at every retailer, none ever objected and some appreciated. Quarters were traded to coin laundry users. When going on transit I brought a bunch, the machines never grumbled. I burned through the cache much faster than expected.

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    I would argue that the whole point of me using a bank is to help me keep my money in a wieldy form. Yet they will not help me with my change? Then what am I paying them to do? When will the point come when I will have to start bundling my $1 bills in order to be allowed to deposit them into my account? Why are quarters so different than that? – Marc Sep 1 '17 at 4:09
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    @mbacon40 we haven't paid our bank to do anything in decades. Why are you paying your bank to do anything? – RonJohn Sep 22 '17 at 23:06

protected by Community Dec 16 '18 at 13:24

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