Ever backed up the Chik Fil A drive-through line?
I have… Unintentionally of course!
Recently, I was really craving a milkshake and being on a tight eating out budget each month, I decided to go desperate mode – I broke into my coin stash.
I emptied out my entire glass jar of coins and separated all the pennies from the nickels and all the dimes from the quarters. Not wanting to use any of my quarters, I decided to use nickels and dimes only to buy my wife and I’s milkshake.
This resulted in about 4 minutes of counting out $7.36 in dimes and nickels.
Finally, at one point the manager came over and asked what was taking so long and the poor high school cashier simply said, “This guy is paying in all coins.”
My wife was completely embarrassed looking at the long drive through line I caused, I couldn’t help but laugh as I drove away happy as a clam with my milkshake.
This got me thinking though….
- Why don’t people use coins anymore?
- Why didn’t I just use my quarters?
- And where do you get quarters from in the first place?
Where can you get quarters?
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Not long ago you need coins for everything. Soda machines at the pool, the toll roads on the way to the beach and when you played your buddies in Texas Hold Em.
While the need for quarters might not come up as often, I recently needed quarters to break change for a community yard sale. Desperate (yet again) I drove to the neighborhood store and asked for some change.
Apparently, everyone else had the same idea, so I had to get resourceful to find my quarters. Here is what I did.
If you’ve got a bank branch nearby, popping into the bank is a quick and easy way to get quarters. If you’re lucky and you’ve got an account in this bank, you can simply ask for some of your own money to be withdrawn in coins. If not, just go up to the bank teller and ask for an exchange with the cash you currently have in hand.
Most times they’ll give you change even if you aren’t a client, but if you want to be very efficient (who doesn’t?) you could call beforehand and double-check just in case.
To be doubly more efficient, go at a time when there aren’t too many people waiting. The teller might not appreciate holding up everyone just for a few quarters (as I did at Chik Fil A).
Quarter rolls are in multiples of 10, so if you want to make life easier for everyone ask for your change in multiples of 10. Asking for $5 could be slightly annoying.
2. Grocery Store
A nearby grocery store is a good option too. Whether it’s Target, Walmart or any grocery store, head to the customer service desk when asking for change. Cash registers have a limited amount of coins and once again, you may hold up the queue for a little while. Some shops also may require you buying something in order to open the till. In any case, the customer service desk is always your best bet.
Grocery stores are great if you need a couple of dollars in quarters. If you need more than $10 then you’re better off heading to the nearest bank.
3. Fast Food Establishment
Similar to the grocery store, a fast-food establishment is another place to find your beloved quarters. It’s unlikely they’ll have a customer service desk, so head up to the cash register to get change in quarters.
You’re unlikely to get more than a couple of dollars in change, so don’t expect too much. Go at a time when it’s not too busy to maximize efficiency. And if they don’t have your required amount consider making a small purchase – we talk about this further on.
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4. Gas Stations and pharmacies
If you find yourself a little far off from the city center and can only see an abandoned gas station, then you might be in luck. Gas stations and pharmacies have registers which often have small coins such as quarters.
Once again, it’ll probably only be a couple of dollars’ worth, but if you buy something small like a candy bar and ask for 4 quarters instead of a dollar, then you’re done!
If the gas station or pharmacy offer cashback you could also use this system to get $5 or $10 in cashback and to ask the cashier to give you ask many quarters as the register can spare.
5. Car Washes and Laundromats
The perk of car washes and laundromats is that many of them are open 24/7, meaning you can get your quarters no matter what time of the day (yay!). Many car washes and laundromats still require quarters or tokens to operate. This means many of them have change machines nearby which allow you to change a $1 bill into quarters.
Before exchanging your money make sure the machine will give you quarters and tokens that are only good for a car wash or washing your laundry – unless that’s what you’re there for in the first place!
Some laundromats even require to do one load of laundry to get your change, so make sure you know what you’re getting before putting in those dollar bills.
6. Make a Purchase
As I said before, if your grocery store cashier or fast food attendant doesn’t want to exchange quarters or don’t have enough for a $1 bill, consider making a small purchase.
You can also try the cashback option if that’s on offer. If not, enjoy your purchase as well as your quarters. Things that are cheap and useful to buy:
- Ramen Noodles
- 1 piece of fruit