The MoneySavingIdiot cashed in his coin jars – guess how much he bagged

While I help people save money as part of my job at, I've never been much cop at doing the same for myself. So I'm writing about my efforts to improve in an attempt to motivate others who are far from experts when it comes to MoneySaving. Previously, I've covered train delaysoverseas travelcredit scoresfinding lost cash and switching bank. Today: depositing coins.

The motivation

Since I started at MSE a couple of years ago, I've been chucking all my loose change under £1 into a jar when I get home each day. But as the jars began to mount up, the motivation to do anything with them dropped in tandem. I struggle in the mornings as it is, so the prospect of dragging a few kilos of coins along to work with me so I could take them to the bank was as appealing as starting the day with a hearty bowl of leopard slugs.

But during the process of switching bank, I realised there was a branch of my old bank near MSE Towers that had a free coin deposit machine – and as my new bank doesn't offer coin deposit machines at all, time was of the essence. And while there are coin machines in many larger supermarkets, including the one nearest my house, these usually charge a fee, eg, Coinstar machines take 10.9% of what you pay in.

Faced with the prospect of instead having to separate, count up and bag my coins (most banks require you to do this if you want to pay in over the counter) as well as shift them, and not wanting to give anyone else a cut of my glassbound booty, I soon found the necessary oomph to lug my coin jars into central London.

The result

In a rare show of non-idiocy, MoneySaving or otherwise, I ferried my jars to the branch of my old bank with the free machine over the course of several days, rather than dislocating a shoulder attempting to take them all there at once.

It was heavier than it looks. Honest.

And one by one, they plopped their metallic goodness into the gaping maw of the bank's coin deposit machine. (The second time I went there, a guy ahead of me was finishing up paying in £600+ from a charity bucket – way to rain on my parade fella...)

Gaping maw may be less impressive than the description suggests.

This was the first shipment – the contents of the jar pictured above. It doesn't look like much, but that bad boy contained a grand total of £27.31. And roughly 50 Czech korunas from my trip there (about £1.70 – enough for a pint in Prague, so I'll save that for next time). And a single Canadian quarter (about 15p, so possibly not worth booking a flight to Ottawa so I can spend it).

Three more trips and four more jars of coins later, I had deposited a grand total ooooooooof...

No drum roll available, so try to imagine me shaking the jars instead.

...£112.57. Not bad for making a slight detour on the way to work, right? And if I'd just taken my jars to the supermarket nearest my house (yet to be known as 'MoneySavingIdiot Towers') and poured them into the Coinstar machine there, it would have cost me £12.27 in fees, leaving me with only £100.30 instead.

My total haul also included several old pound coins, which I will of course turn into money I can use by following MSE Naomi's instructions on How to make old £1 coins spendable again (though one of them is an old £1 coin that could be worth MORE than £1, so I may consider hawking it on a popular online auction site).

The useful bit

Here's what I learned from depositing my beloved coin jars (and from asking around MSE Towers for tips) – if you've any feedback or suggestions of your own, please ding them in the depositing coins MSE Forum thread and I'll add them to the list:

  • If you're a Barclays, HSBC, NatWest or RBS customer and have coins to deposit, you're in luck. All four banks offer free coin deposit machines in "selected branches" that will either pay the total straight into your account, or give you a voucher that you then take to the counter to have the total credited to your account.  Check if your local branch has a machine first before dragging your coins along.

  • Metro Bank has free coin deposit machines that anyone can use, even if you're not with Metro Bank. There is a 'Money Magic Machine' in every branch that will count your coins. If you're a customer with a contactless card, you add the total straight to your account. If not, you can print out a receipt that you can take to the counter to exchange for cash (and you can donate any pennies of the total to Teenage Cancer Trust if you only want notes and pound coins back).

  • You can use a self-checkout as a free 'coin machine' by taking your coins to a shop that has them and using them to pay for your shopping – laborious if it's a self-checkout with a coin slot, but easy enough if it's one that has a coin funnel. MSE Laura F warns that once when doing this, the transaction timed out and all her coins were rejected again, so keep one eye on the screen just in case.

  • You can pay coins in over the counter at a branch of your bank or building society, but you'll have to separate and count them, and then put them in denominated bags (usually available from the counter) in the amounts specified on the bags. There's also often a limit on how much banks will take in coins, eg, Nationwide will only take up to five bags a day, Santander up to £100 a day. But a cashier once told MSE Ben that if you go when bank branches tend to be less busy, eg, after lunch, they may let you go over the limit.