Last time we dropped off a jug of change at our local charitable organization, the people there mentioned that they now preferred receiving bills. Apparently, they're getting charged for counting coin donations.
With that in mind, we brought our family's donation box over to Coinstar today. We used their locator service to find a nearby machine, which turns out to be at our local Albertson's.
Since Coinstar charges a fairly hefty 8.9% counting fee, we opted to cash out in an iTunes gift card and donate the equivalent amount in bills. With iTunes, you get a 100% transfer of funds; no fees. We brought over our pennies, nickles, and dimes in a cup. (No quarters, mind you. They're too handy. I personally bought out all the quarters from the jar in advance.)
This was the first time I ever used Coinstar, and I was surprised to learn that you can load bills directly into the machine as well as coins in order to build up a gift certificate. Given that you can buy pretty iTunes gift cards at the grocery's cash register no more than 10 feet away, I'm not entirely sure why people do this.
It took far longer to process our gift certificate than I expected. After pouring in the coins (the fun part!), we were there waiting for about 5-10 minutes. Finally, an iTunes gift certificate printed out and we were on our way.
The code was a bit longer than the normal redemption codes I'm used to. I entered it into iTunes and it worked fine. My account was credited immediately after.
Although the whole stand-and-wait portion was a bit annoying (my helper child got quite antsy), it's something I can easily see doing a few times a year. In the end, we are happy with our iTunes credit and the organization will be happy with the bills instead of the coins.