The Kingwood business owner needed coins, lots of coins, to make change for his customers. He could not find them.

When the businessman asked his Chase bank in Kingwood for help finding coins, Rhonda Herczeg gave him an interesting proposal.

“The coin shortage is real,” said Herczeg. “The coins that businesses make change with are in our purses, pockets and piggy banks. And, thanks to the pandemic, all those coins are still there. I wasn’t able to fulfill his request.”

Herczeg is vice president and branch manager at Chase located at the top of Kingwood Drive. She suggested the business owner post on social media that he would trade coin for paper cash.

The owner followed Herczeg’s advice, posted on social media sites and, a couple days later, returned to Chase thanking Herczeg for the suggestion.

— Local banks, credit unions tell how to cash in —

“We have such a tight-knit community,” said Herczeg, who not only works at the Chase in Kingwood but lives in Kingwood, too. “The business owner was able to get as many coins as he needed for his business. We were happy to point him in a direction that would help him.”

Yes, there is a coin shortage, and it got even worse when the US Mint decreased the production of coins – and paper money, too – to protect employees from COVID-19.

“We are working with the mint and the reserve banks,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee in June. He assured the committee that the US Mint is producing more coins especially since local businesses that rely on coins, like laundromats, car washes and vending machines, are struggling since the shortage began.

In an unscientific survey, here is what The Tribune discovered about how to “cash in” on the coin shortage.

Yes, Chase accepts coins, as most local banks and credit unions do, but a bucketful of coins is a “no-no,” only coins wrapped in those paper rollers. It is a chore, but the good news is, the paper rollers are free.

Chase, according to Herczeg, accepts unlimited rolled coin for deposit or paper cash from account holders. Non-customers are limited to $100. Yes, the paper rollers are free. No, Chase does not charge a fee for cashing in those coins.

“Don’t write on the paper rollers,” Herczeg pleaded. “We’ve had customers write their names on the outside. That is a no-no, too.”

Wells Fargo also offers free coin wrappers and accepts them once they are wrapped. They are unlimited for customers, $20 limit for non-customers. No fee for either, according to Tymika Morrison, assistant vice president for communications at Wells Fargo Houston.

InvesTex Credit Union accepts unlimited rolled coins but only from members. No charge, too.

“Frankly, we have seen an uptick in the number of members bringing in coins. We’ve had members bring in coffee cans full of coins, maybe a hundred dollars’ worth,” said Keith Cearney, InvesTex president and CEO. “Our lobbies are still closed so they come through the drive-through, let us know, and we pick them up at the front door.”

Not a member? Not a problem, said Cearney, the ultimate marketer. “It takes just a couple minutes to become a member of InvesTex and then we can exchange the coins for paper cash or put it in their new account.”

None of those same banks or credit unions use coin-counter machines, the ubiquitous and convenient machines found mostly in supermarkets and drugstores that allow the customer to pour their bags of coins into the machine. The machine counts the total and prints a receipt. The customer takes it to the cashier.

Unfortunately, those machines charge up to 11.9% of the total amount. That would be $11.90 for every $100 cashed in. The charge varies from business to business and some machines allow the customer to convert change into a gift card for a much lower fee or donate the cash to a charity.

Until coins starts circulating through the economy again, Herczeg of Chase says Kingwood residents are doing their part to get them flowing again.

“At least once a day, our clients come into Chase with boxes of rolled coins wanting to do their part to help,” she said. “I had a situation where some customers picked up coin wrappers, took them home to their teens to wrap, then brought them back to Chase and ‘popped’ the money into their teens’ account.”

And if rolling up all those coins is too much of a chore?

“We have had customers with large bags of coins who don’t really want to roll them up, so we recommend they take their coins to local businesses to see if they’ll buy the coins,” said Herczeg. “Customers have come back to us and said ‘Yes!,’ the businesses exchanged the coins.”

Tom Broad
Author: Tom BroadEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Columnist
Besides being a proud graduate of The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and, therefore, a Cornhusker, I am retired from Memorial Hermann. I am a correspondent and columnist for Lake Houston's hometown paper, The Tribune, as well as a director of the Lake Houston Redevelopment Corporation, a member of the board of the Humble Area Assistance Ministries, and Volunteer Extraordinaire for the Lake Houston Area Chamber.

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