For whatever bizarre reason I thought of that old Dire Straits song “Money for Nothing” when I heard about Coinstar’s latest offering. For those of you who aren’t aware of this brilliant business, Coinstar puts machines in grocery stores (and in other locations I assume) where you can dump your spare coin change and get a voucher you redeem at the checkout stand for cash minus a 8.9% fee to Coinstar.
I’ve never actually used these machines because I’m a cheap bastard and I’d rather let my spare change rot away (due to inflation) on my dresser than give anyone 9 cents on the dollar to make it paper money. Shrewd huh? At any rate, in spite of my objection to the fee, I admire their business greatly.
I recently learned that you could use some advanced Coinstar machines to convert your spare change into gift cards for Apple iTunes Music Store, Starbucks, Amazon, and other retailers and not pay any Coinstar free. In other words, you take a bucket of change to a Coinstar machine and get a iTunes gift card straight up even. Awesome.