What to do with a jar full of small change

Have you got a jar of coppers just gathering dust? Paul Lewis knows what to do with them…

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In March, the Government announced it was looking at the future of 1p and 2p coins.

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Within a couple of days it said it had no plans to scrap them – and that is still the official position.

Not least, I suspect, because the English penny dates back around 1,300 years and there could be a campaign to keep this symbolic coin.

Nevertheless, two economists from the Bank of England have looked at whether getting rid of the two lowest value coins would cause inflation by encouraging retailers to round up prices.

They concluded it would not. In other countries where it has been done, items are still priced in pennies but the final bill is rounded to the nearest 5p.

But if we are to be stuck with small change for at least the near future, what can we actually do with our jars full of coins when most of our spending these days is on cards?

On average, a jar of mixed coins is worth around £40.

CoinStar, the main change machine operator, charges a hefty 9.9% of what you pour into it. So for a typical £40 jar of coins you would get a voucher to spend in the host shop of barely £36.

A better option is Metro Bank, which has a free Magic Money Machine in every one of its 60 or so branches, although these are mainly found in the south of England.

Metro Bank customers can have the value of the coins credited to their debit card. Non-customers get banknotes and big coins. There is no charge for either service.

If you have an account with one of the other High Street banks, they may let you pay coins into your account if you have enough saved up to sort them into denominations and then put them into the official coin bags. A few even have coin sorting machines. But they will not usually accept coins from non-customers. A better way to deal with change, of course, is not to hoard it in the first place.

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Instead, spend it at the self-service tills many shops and supermarkets now have. Put your shopping through, insert all your small coins then press “card” and pay the balance by plastic. Job done!