RealTime IT News

Coins Into Amazon.com Cash

Everyone seems to have spare change that's just lying around. Thanks to an innovative new program from Coinstar, you can now take that spare change and use it to buy stuff on Amazon.com.

Coinstar operates units at 44,000 retail locations that help consumers convert their loose change into cash or credit. Under the new offer announced today with Amazon, Coinstar will now allow users to convert their loose change into Amazon Gift Certificates that can be used online at Amazon.com.

The Amazon deal with Coinstar resulted partially from the two companies being neighbors. The Amazon program follows another program that Coinstar started with another Seattle firm, Starbucks.

"Following the success with our 'Coin to Card' pilot program last year with the Starbucks card, we began conversations with top retailers in categories that our customers are interested in," Marci Maule, Coinstar spokeswoman, told internetnews.com. "Amazon is a natural because they cross nearly all categories (32 lines and millions of products) and have no geographic boundaries because of the nature of online."

Normally Coinstar charges a transaction fee for the service, but it will not for the Amazon gift certificates. Maule explained that Coinstar's gift card and eCertificate partners in the Coin to Card program essentially fund the fee, allowing them to extend a fee-free transaction to consumers.

"Everybody wins, consumers get a fee-free transaction and Amazon can now offer their customers an easy and convenient way to use cash online," Maule said. "Coinstar attracts new users by providing a no fee transaction and the host retailer (supermarkets) benefits through increased store traffic."

Maule wasn't able to say how many Coinstar users they expect will opt for an Amazon gift certificate, but she is very optimistic.

"The breadth of selection that Amazon offers, combined with the no fee will be quite compelling," Maule said.

"We do know that 70 percent of U.S. households are aware of Coinstar and we have an ever tried rate at our machines of 23 percent of households and a substantial number of people tell us that the fee is an obstacle.

"So that gap of people who are aware, but have not yet tried Coinstar, presents a great opportunity."