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Paying in all coins should always be an option

Pay for your cup of coffee in all coins; it will help you out more than you think.
Pay for your cup of coffee in all coins; it will help you out more than you think.
Photo by Derrick Wescott

The other day I went to my local Starbucks and paid for my drink entirely in pennies.  Yes, I'm one of those people.   But here's the good news: you can be one of those people too.

It might seem a bit intimidating to pay in all coins in this day and age - where everyone has credit cards and debit cards and Starbucks cards and everything else in between.  You get the feeling that maybe the cashier will throw you out of the store for offering to pay in coins.  You may even remember that episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm where no one would take Larry's fifty-dollar bill because his friend had been carrying it all day in his sock.  But the fact remains that real cold hard cash - unlike credit cards - is legal tender, and all US vendors are required to accept this money by law.

Of course everyone wants you to pay in credit cards.  It's easier for the cashier to swipe it and move on.  And the credit card companies - even the debit cards that you pay no interest on - all get a tiny portion from each sale.  That's why a lot of banks will give you rewards if you use your debit card so many times per month.  But since when did it become your job to help out the cashiers and banks of the world?

Just take a moment and look around your house for all the loose change you have.  I wouldn't be surprised if you found $10 in coins just lying around your house.  This money is earning no interest, and it's at risk of getting lost or even stolen.   Spend it before it's too late!

You may be thinking that this would be a waste of time for you.  Not necessarily.  If you were to put your coffee on your credit card, you still (in theory, anyway) need to balance your bank account with your receipts.  You still need to make sure that Starbucks didn't double-charge you for that double-shot espresso.  You even run the risk of getting embarrassed in front of everyone when your credit card gets declined.  So cut the middleman and just pay in coins!

Of course I was gracious about it the other day when I paid Starbucks in coins.  I waited until the line had died down so I didn't have to waste fellow customers' time.  I even helped the cashier to count out the 200 pennies required for my coffee.  And all my leftover loose change was then given to the cashier as a tip, which put a smile on her face.  Win-win situation all around!

It all also puts everything into perspective.  After counting out over 200 pennies, that had darn-tootin' better be one good cup of coffee!


  • Trina 5 years ago

    What a great concept! Cheers!

  • CtyExamines 5 years ago

    I bought a ticket from a scalper for Star Wars: In Concert and I paid about 1/3 of it in coins. I handed him my plastic bag full of change. I got the ticket on the way to the door for $15 total. Star Wars on a budget! Now I need to build back up my coin collection~

  • Callie Lorentson 5 years ago

    I love this. My husband and I are getting back to a cash-based way of living, and I think it really helps you appreciate the value of cash versus credit. Thanks for this article.

  • Jenn, SA Budget Grocery 5 years ago

    I worked for Starbucks for many years, and trust me, we were super-excited to see someone with change, especially if that person was kind like you and waited for a break in the line. It often saved the manager on duty having to buy change at the bank!

    You take your life into your own hands trying to do that in the drive-through, though. ;D

  • Anonymous 3 years ago

    If you go to a coffee shop where there is only one barista working we are secretly cursing you. Just because you're not holding up a line doesn't mean you're not wasting the worker's time, and we don't get breaks so you really are keeping us from going to the bathroom, eating, or just having a glass of water. Do us a favor and at least count your coins out before your drink is finished. Don't make us stand there forever while you count it out, it's painful.

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