Thanks to the popularity of credit and debit cards today, many people barely use cash or coins anymore. Pennies, nickels, and dimes are more or less irrelevant, beyond your every-five-years trip to a Coinstar to dump in your jar of spare change that you can’t be bothered to spend.
But quarters are another story. The 25-cent coin is still highly usable, or even integral, to the operation of things like:
- Coin laundries
- Parking meters
- Self-serve car washes
- Public transport in some places
- Coin-only highway tolls
- Vending machines
- Getting a cart at ALDI (the grocery mecca for frugal people everywhere)
- Making important decisions via the flip method (just kidding)
So let’s find out where to get quarters for all these important reasons!
Where to Get Quarters for Laundry, Meters, Etc.
Because of the current coin shortage, it’s worth noting that your mileage may vary when it comes to getting quarters at specific locations. In general, though, these will be your best bet.
Getting Quarters at Banks
Your first plan of action should be checking around at local bank branches. Some banks ask that you have an account before they’ll exchange money for you, while others don’t require you to be a customer. If you don’t want to make the trek to banks all around town when you aren’t sure, you can call ahead to ask about their policies and see if they’ll exchange bills for coins.
Even with the coin shortage, you should be able to score a couple rolls of quarters if you find the right bank. To make things easy, bring $10 bills (since that’s the amount that quarter rolls come in as well).
Getting Quarters at Grocery/Convenience Stores
If you’re looking for a roll of quarters, another place to check is the customer service desk at a grocery store. People often have success asking to change in a $10 bill for a roll of quarters there, although this can also be hit-or-miss during the shortage.
The more labor-intensive way to get a few quarters at these stores is to make small purchases with cash and ask the cashiers for any change in quarters they can spare. You can also try this at fast-food restaurants and retail stores if you’re making purchases there anyway. (Just don’t be a “Karen” about it and be prepared for them to give you a few instead of cleaning out their whole drawers.)
Getting Quarters from Change Machines
Change machines are specifically designed to solve your problem, turning bills into coins. However, the issue with these is finding one, as they aren’t very common.
You’re most likely to find change machines at one of these establishments:
- Laundromats (since most people need quarters at these!)
- Car washes (notably ones with coin-operated self-serve stations)
- Arcades (just make sure you’re not buying tokens accidentally)
- Casinos (hit or miss since many don’t use coins anymore)
Just be aware that coin-cashing machines are different from change machines. For example, Coinstar is a popular coin-cashing kiosk that will give you bills or gift cards in exchange for your coins, but doesn’t work in reverse.
Getting Quarters from Vending Machines
One useful hack if you only need to get a few quarters is to put a dollar in a beverage or snack vending machine, then press the coin-return button. The dollar will usually be returned to you in quarters (although you could also get nickels or dimes).
I wouldn’t do this with more than a couple dollars at a time, so you don’t wipe out the machine’s supply and make things more difficult for other customers. However, it can work in a pinch if your laundry is soaking wet in a machine and you realize you don’t have enough quarters to dry!
Finding Quarters in Your House
Last but not least, sometimes the couch cushions really do deliver. In addition to tearing apart your furniture, try looking in your “junk drawer,” fishing quarters out of your change collection jar, smashing open your kids’ piggy banks (this costs nothing except lifelong trust issues!), checking inside old bags or wallets you no longer use, etc. You can also ask if any friends or relatives have big change collections and want a one-to-one exchange (a better rate than Coinstar)!
The best time to stock up on quarters is before you need them. I like to keep a roll in my car for any unexpected tolls or parking situations, or to swing by the car wash on a whim.
Have you had luck finding quarters anywhere else? How has your experience been different with the coin shortage? Comment below.
Kate is a writer and editor who runs her content and editorial businesses remotely while globetrotting as a digital nomad. So far, her laptop has accompanied her to New Zealand, Asia, and around the U.S. (mostly thanks to credit card points). Years of research and ghostwriting on personal finance led her to the FI community and co-founding DollarSanity. In addition to traveling and outdoor adventure, Kate is passionate about financial literacy, compound interest, and pristine grammar.