An Amazon Kindle Gift Card For You

The following is a revision of a post I originally did in May of 2010.  The number of people reading this blog has grown exponentially since then, primarily due to the influx of new Kindles out in the world (and I hope some of that is attributable to folks thinking there is some value to the blog, too), and I thought it appropriate to repeat it:  I was reminded of this post as I’ve got a big jar of coins at home I will be applying this tip to Saturday!

I still think we’re in a recession despite our government telling us it officially ended two years ago, and looking at what the global financial markets have been doing, the lack of adult behavior in Washington, plus the fact Hell must have certainly frozen over as the Rangers are in the World Series for the second year in a row (hey, I’ve been a lifelong Ranger fan and this is certainly unbelievable to me) makes me think it’s going to last a little longer – we did see a brief rebound over the summer – although I certainly hope I am wrong.

Kindles and other eBook readers have some costs to them: by the time you purchase the Kindle and other related accessories (cover to protect it, maybe an extra charger, etc.) can certainly add up.  However, you’ve made your initial investment in the Kindle hardware, and there is enough free content out there for you to read the rest of your life without buying another book.  Forever.

Forever is a long time.

While I do read a lot of the free books I talk about here in the blog (and the “to be read” pile is increasing, thank goodness for storage on the Kindle) I still enjoy certain authors and will purchase a lot of books.  Some of them are inexpensive offerings from independent authors and some are from your mainstream “big name” authors, and I don’t care what the price is – I’ve gottagetitnow.  Well, I do care what the price is but I may just wait until it gets below $10 unless it’s a new one by Harlan Coben.  I’m sure there are offerings by favorite authors you want to buy, too.

So, what’s my point with this post?  Great question because, as in real life, I am getting long-winded in this post.

You have a source of “free” money you can spend in the Amazon store and you probably don’t realize it as it is right under your nose.  I’m talking about your loose change.

Most of you have seen the change conversion machines in grocery and other stores, and a lot of you have used them: you take in your coffee can of loose change, dump it in the hopper, the machine counts it and then spits out a receipt you take to the cash register to redeem for paper currency or a credit in the store.  The one main drawback to these machines, to me, is a lot of them take an 8% (or more) commission / cut of whatever you brought in as their profit.  For example, at an 8% commission rate you would need to bring in $10.87 worth of change to receive a $10 bill.  Some people will say “so what” and accept that as a cost of doing business vs. rolling the money yourself and either turning it in to a bank (if they accept the change these days – my local branch of Bank of America does not – or taking it to a convenience store who needs it and having everyone behind you steam as you and the convenience store clerk count out a bagful of pennies.

If you were following along and did the math to see what the effective annual interest rate is on my $10.87 example above, great.  If you didn’t, I’ve performed the calculation for you: assuming the vendor collects the change from the machine every three days and takes it to their bank, that 8% rate for a three day holding period converts to a whopping 266.7% annual interest rate.  The grocery store usually splits the fee earned 50-50 with the owner of the equipment, but even if the grocery store is providing a three day loan to the equipment maker until they are reimbursed, that is one heck of a money maker (why didn’t I think of that?)!

I’m sure some of you are still wondering what my point is with this post.  I’ll get to it, I just had to set the stage.

Coinstar is one of the largest providers in the USA of this equipment to stores; they are also the parent company behind the Redbox DVD rental machines you seem to see everywhere.  They have partnered with Amazon to not charge you a fee for the change you bring in, but they will give you a gift card eligible for 100% of the change you bring in to be used at the Amazon website; I am assuming Amazon is paying the 8% commission fee as a customer acquisition cost.

That’s actually a huge benefit for you and me as we feed our Kindle book addiction.

Using my earlier example, if you brought in $10.87 worth of change and selected the Amazon gift card option, you would get a $10.87 Amazon gift card as your receipt.  You would then enter the gift card details on your Amazon account on your computer (or Kindle, if the wireless feature is on with the browser pointed to the Amazon website).  You can then use those funds now applied to your account and buy Kindle books or anything else in the Kindle store.

You also don’t have to roll the coins yourself or, if your house is like mine, have a couple of containers here and there full of spare change.  You’re also not giving up any of your money as a commission just for someone to accept your spare change.  That’s change I can believe in (pun intended).

Coinstar has partnered with other companies in addition to Amazon to offer gift cards with no fee to you – you turn in $10.87 worth of coins, you get a $10.87 gift card to the Amazon store or to the other store(s) participating in the program.  While Coinstar is one of the largest providers of this equipment to stores in the USA, they are not the only one so don’t assume your local grocery store is a Coinstar machine. 

To find a Coinstar machine, you can point your web browser to and do two things from this page: (1) enter your zip code in the top right-hand corner to find a Coinstar machine near you, and (2) see a list of companies that have signed up for the gift card promotion by clicking “details” under the name of the store / retail location.  When I just did the same for a location near me, in addition to an Amazon gift card my selections were to Kroger, JC Penney, Lowes, iTunes, The Gap, and a few others.

I think I am going to go grab my old Mason Jar I use to hold my change and find me a Coinstar machine…

Hope that helps!


Want to have this blog sent wirelessly to your Kindle vs. reading it on your computer? Try out the free two-week subscription!  Click here for the Amazon page for Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips.

Looking for more or a reliable source of free books for your Kindle?  Click here for my “Free Kindle Books and How to Find Them book (updated September 2011).



Filed under Kindle Tips, Misc. and Random Stuff

14 responses to “An Amazon Kindle Gift Card For You

  1. Stephen E.

    My “Overheard in New York” blog still reads Mon Oct 10, 2011, and, I’ve restarted all three Kindles everyday at first, NOW just hoping the gods decide to favor me! I don;’t own a computer, but subscribe to this blog, both at this yahoo address, and my Kindle 3.

    • Michael Gallagher


      Sounds like that blog is having a feed issue to the Amazon servers, as it is still posting today (and quite funny)!



  2. ejmh

    I love this feature, and we have used it — but there seems to be a minimum amount before you can get a gift card. We had something like $3.57 rejected. Do you know what the minimum for Amazon is? I’ve searched Coinstar’s website and can’t find the answer. We don’t know whether to save up $5 or $10 or what.

    • Michael Gallagher

      I don’t think there’s a minimum, based solely on my sending out $1 gift cards before. then again, I am not the expert!

      • ejmh

        I emailed Coinstar and just got this reply —

        Dear Valued Customer,
        Thank you for contacting Coinstar. Regarding your question the minimum amount for is $5.00.
        Thank you.
        Coinstar Customer Service

      • Michael Gallagher

        Thanks for the clarification and follow-up!



  3. Very cool! Thanks! (When the kidlings were born they were given piggy banks. Lots of them. So we jokingly refer to the now full piggies as the college fund, but raid them all the time for Penny Harvest, hot-lunch and bus fare. An Amazon GC is waaaaaay better!)

  4. I am going out tomorrow to get an Amazon gift card with my coins. Great idea Michael.
    A different subject, is there a link that I can find Michael Gallagher’s reviews on the ebooks you haves read? I’ve been impressed in the past when you comment and mention a short review on something you read. I get the ebook and always enjoy it. I especially like the type of Sci-Fi that you like. I would like to read all of your reviews but do not know wher to find them.

    • Michael Gallagher


      Thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it! I actually have about a dozen reviews to write (not enough time in the world). To see all of my reviews on Amazon, just type in into your computer’s web browser.



  5. Heather Koogler

    What a great idea; I love it. I have avoided those machines because of the fee charged but now know what to do with the piles of coins around here.

    One more thing… not only do you go to one of our favorite neighborhood bars (The Ginger Man) but my entire family (2 adults, 2 teens) all crave Harlan Coben books. We, too, will purchase his books immediately because he is worth every penny. Were you at Murder by the Book recently for the signing of his new YA fiction featuring Mickey Bolitar? He’s just a hoot in person. I can see who Myron really takes after!

  6. I have a huge jar I was going to put in savings but now maybe I will see about doing this instead. I think the interest on my credit card is more than my savings acct, so I might as well make use of it this way. Thanks for the heads up!!

    • Michael Gallagher


      While turning it in for a gift card is better than paying the % fee just to receive some bills, as an accountant I have to say pay off the credit card and avoid the interest charges!



  7. jcpfuntner

    This is a great tip. I’ve used Coinstar in the past to get an Amazon card but had not used it in a while… certainly not before the Kindle era!

    My latest experience: I had loaded the Coinstar machine with close to $19 of coins and was eagerly awaiting my card. It churned and churned but nothing came out. Finally, it said there was some kind of problem and instead of giving me the gift card or giving me the choice of cash minus a fee, it went ahead and gave me a receipt for redeeming the total amount, no fee!

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