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Good afternoon everyone, if you bought groceries lately, you may have seen a tall yellow machine next to the familiar green Coinstar kiosk. The tall yellow machine is a Coinstar Exchange kiosk where you can convert gift cards to cash in a few minutes. Let me show you how it works…
Below the touchscreen monitor, there are 3 components.
- On the left side, there is a magnetic stripe reader and barcode scanner.
- In the center, there is a gift card deposit slot.
- On the right side, there is a receipt printer.
To start the process, tap the touchscreen and scan your gift card. You can run the gift card through the magnetic stripe reader or hold the gift card under the barcode scanner. Depending on the gift card, you may need to try both options. Not all gift cards are accepted, which makes it more difficult to tell if your gift card is working.
To test out the payouts, I brought a handful of different gift cards to the store and tested them out. Here is are the payout for 3 different gift cards”
- Panera Bread: $27.04 for a $42.92 gift card (63% face value)
- Chipotle: $15.75 for a $25.00 gift card (63% face value)
- Elephant Bar: $31.50 for a $50.00 gift card (63% face value)
It appears that all gift cards (at least restaurant gift cards) are only worth 63% face value. Not a great payout, but if you want cash fast, this is the fastest way to go.
You can also type in the name of the gift card if the system cannot automatically determine the name of the gift card. Some gift cards have PINs, so you will need to end the PIN to proceed. The current value and payout price will be displayed on the last screen.
According to Gift Card Granny, you could sell an Elephant Bar gift card for 65-70.5% face value online, which represents a 7% higher payout than what Coinstar will offer.
If you decide to accept Coinstar’s price, you have to jump through a few hoops to complete the transaction. You need to verify your identity by swiping your driver’s license and then swiping your credit card, which acts like a security deposit on the funds.
You then need to enter your zipcode, phone number, and email address.
After completing the above steps, the middle slot opens and you can insert your gift card.
After that, a receipt will print out that you can take to the register and redeem for cash. The cashier is instructed to check your driver’s license again to verify your identity.
Lastly, you will receive a confirmation email from Coinstar with details of your transaction.
Bottom line, will I use the Coinstar Exchange kiosk again? Probably not. The payouts are very low compared to what you can get online and there are many hoops to jump through in order to sell your gift cards. If there was a situation where I received a gift card for a place I did not shop at and Gift Card Granny did not have that merchant listed online, then I would probably go back to the Coinstar Exchange kiosk.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great day everyone.