There are many strange ripple effects happening as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those strange ripples is a national coin shortage. If you’re like me, you’re struggling to get quarters to do your laundry. If you need to buy rolls of quarters, here’s some information that can help.
There’s a National Coin Shortage
I would never have thought that one day I would walk into my bank, ask to buy rolls of quarters, and receive the news that there were none. And yet, that’s exactly what happened one day about a month ago. The two banks closest to me each explained that there’s a national coin shortage.
It’s economically complicated, but the gist of it is that the way that COVID-19 shut down the economy has led to a decrease in availability of quarters. For one thing, people simply aren’t out spending cash. The quarters that they do have are sitting at home, unused, not out there circulating in the economy.
Moreover, the National Mint reduced the number of workers it had to the bare minimum in order to keep everyone safe during the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, they weren’t producing as many coins as usual. This led to a shortage. While most people don’t care about most coins for everyday use, quarters are still important. My building is one of many in this city, and of course in many cities across the nation, that offers laundry only if I pay the machine in quarters.
I have very few options besides quarter-based laundry. There is no laundromat anywhere near me. And even if there was, they are also suffering from a quarter shortage, so I might not be able to get quarters for the machines there anyway. I could have a wash-and-dry service do my laundry and bypass the quarters problem but that gets very expensive very fast, especially if I’ve got big loads of blankets and other heavy laundry.
So, I need to buy rolls of quarters. And yet, my bank doesn’t have them. So what is there to do?
First, Do Check Your Local Bank
Banks are doing their best to offer quarters when they can. For example, the Wells Fargo Bank where I have an account was able to give me $20 in quarters one week. The following week I was able to buy $10 worth of quarters. Then they didn’t have any but Chase, where I don’t even have an account, was able to sell me $10 worth of quarters.
So, check your bank. You might be able to buy rolls of quarters from them. Typically, you’ll have to buy just one – or if you’re lucky, two – rolls at a time. But it’s better than nothing. It’s helpful if you have an account with the bank. Your credit union might be a good choice. And if you happen to have a business account then you’ll have a better chance at getting first pick to buy rolls of quarters from the bank when they become available each week.
Convenience Stores and Grocery Stores
You might also want to try to buy rolls of quarters at your local grocery store or convenience store. Whether or not they will sell them to you varies by location. Plus, of course, with the coin shortage, they might skimp on them more than they did in the past. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
If you frequent a local store, rather than a big chain, and they already know you as a customer then they might be more amenable to helping you out. I was at a local convenience store chatting with the owner about the fact that a lot of places aren’t taking cash right now (even though legally they are supposed to) which led us into a conversation about the national coin shortage. He immediately offered, “hey, if you need to buy rolls of quarters, I have some.” Being friendly to your local small business owner can go a long way in times like these.
Head to The Laundromat
If you need to do quarter-based laundry, then you might have some luck at the laundromat near you. Unfortunately, with the coin shortage, most laundromats will not sell quarters to you unless you are going to do your laundry on site. They’re struggling, too, and they need those quarters for their customers. If you’re a customer, then they’ll do their best to let you buy quarters.
Fast Food Restaurants, Gas Stations, and Other Stores
You can always ask to buy rolls of quarters at any store that you happen to already be shopping at. Even if they won’t sell you full rolls, they might be able to give you $1 or $2 in quarters. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask, and you might end up getting the quarters that you need.
Note that if you’re going to a large store, such as a bog box store or a chain grocery store, then you might have better luck at the customer service counter than at the register.
Is There a Local Arcade?
There are several great local arcades in San Francisco. Normally, I can go into any one of them, put money into a machine and get quarters back. Of course, they aren’t rolled quarters, but they’re quarters all the same. Unfortunately, all of these places are closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s not true in other places in the country. So, if you happen to live in a place where arcades are open, that’s another place to add to your list of where you might try to get quarters.
Ask Friends and Family
Once I started running out of quarters for laundry, I started mentioning it to everyone that I know. It turns out that there are a lot of people with quarters in their homes that they aren’t using. Not everyone has to have quarters for laundry. Those that don’t have been more than happy to let me buy rolls of quarters from them. I’ve bought them from a neighbor, my partner, and my sister. (Okay, my partner and my sister actually just gave me theirs, but I would have given them the equal value in cash if they had asked.)
- Recollecting the United States Coin Shortages Over the Years
- 83 Things That You Can Do With a Quarter
- Save Money Easily with the 365 Day Quarter Challenge
- 17 Coins in Your Pocket Worth More Than Face Value
- 10 Coins Worth Money You Can Still Find in Your Pocket
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