How to Exchange Coins

I have quite a disdain for coins in my pockets or wallet, particularly Australian coins that are at times unwieldy in size (I do question what they were hoping to achieve with the 50 cent piece). As a result I religiously dump any shrapnel at the end of the day into a rather sizable collection box. However with this mindset the stash of coins can accumulate quite readily, particularly after passing the hat around for donations, fundraisers or the odd going away party.

Australian Coins

Typically I will exchange coins two or three times a year with the coin collection ranging anywhere between 200 to 300 dollars each time. This gives me some credence when I claim to have considerable familiarity with the coin exchange process.

Whilst checking up on any exciting advancement in technology on how to exchange coins at my local bank recently, I was strongly warned not to include foreign currency coins (as they get stuck in the new fandangled coin counting machines) or sharp objects. I didn’t know whether to take offence at the second point, as I don’t believe I strike people as having a propensity towards mixing up my coins with my shiv collection.

Getting back to the point at hand I will describe the two easiest methods I have found as to how to exchange coins. Both involve going to a bank and to ensure you aren’t charged any additional fees you should be a customer (some banks will charge a flat or percentage based fee to non-customers). In the interest of completeness there are other valid methods such as coin exchangers in shopping malls (will cost you a fee) and using pokie change machines (though this will only help you exchange spare silver for dollar coins and leaves you in the precarious position of succumbing to the allure of the bright lights).  It is also worth noting the AML-CTF (Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act) only applies to large and suspicious transactions but the bank will most likely ask for some form of identification.

The first method is the simplest and involves going to a bank with a coin counting machine. There are two basic types, one where the machine is public facing and on a self-service basis (which issues a receipt which is then taking to the bank clerk counter), or where coin counting machine is behind the counter and the clerk processes the coins on your behalf.

Some banks have identified branches with coin counting machines on their websites, though I have also found instances where branches have machines and this isn’t reflected in the online database.

Commonwealth – http://www.commbank.com.au/locate-us/

NAB – http://ols.nab.com.au/location-web/process.do

Westpac – http://www.westpac.com.au/locateus/

The second method is a fair bit more tedious and requires bagging of coins so that they can be weighed by the bank in order to be processed. In some instances a bank clerk will manually count the coins for you in small amounts, however I typically prefer not to test how their day has been up until that point (life is too short to be wasting it on low reward/high risk scenarios). The bank will normally provide you with the appropriate bags, which classically look like the below.

Coin Bag

To adhere to the bagging restrictions use the below table.

Coin Type

Coins per bag

Bag Value

5 cents

40

2 dollars

10 cents

100

10 dollars

20 cents

50

10 dollars

50 cents

20

10 dollars

1 dollar

20

20 dollars

2 dollar

25

50 dollars

If you have a pair of scales at hand and want to avoid counting/stacking large volumes of coins a quick and easy way to bag is based on weight. The table below should give you a guide to work by (weights will vary, but as long as they are marginally close to the below).

Coin Type

Coins per bag

Coin Weight (grams)

Bag Weight (grams)

5 cents

40

2.83

113.2

10 cents

100

5.65

565

20 cents

50

11.3

565

50 cents

20

15.55

311

1 dollar

20

9

180

2 dollar

25

6.6

165

I have heard that some people will try and slip in a New Zealand 20 cent piece every now and then, but I can’t endorse such behaviour.

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