America needs change: COVID-19 creates coin crisis

Maci Brown

Several unfortunate events have occurred so far as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. From small businesses permanently shutting their doors to shortages of toilet paper and poultry, the economy has suffered greatly. Recently, another unexpected effect of the virus has arisen: a coin shortage.

 As “no contact” transactions become more and more common, the circulation of coins has decreased significantly. Stores are unable to give customers change, while quarters and dimes are collecting dust in piggy banks around the nation. We all need to contribute in aiding the economy out of the dark place it is in, and the answer simple.

Stores across the country are taking action in an attempt to speed the process of coin availability. This includes select 7-Eleven gas stations asking customers to bring $5 in coins, in exchange for $5 cash and a free Slurpee. One Chick-Fil-A in Virginia offers a free entrée to any customer who trades $10 in coins, for $10 cash. 

We can positively influence the coin shortage by accepting these deals, allowing coin circulation to grow. 

As a community, we need to work together and do our part. It isn’t difficult to find change between the couch cushions, so why not exchange them for cash and free food, while helping out our country?

Several banks are also taking initiative. National banks such as U.S. Bank, Bank of America, and Chase are offering free coin exchanges for cash. A simple ten minute drive to the bank can do so much. There are also coin counting machines, such as Coinstar, at several grocery stores across America. These types of machines do typically charge small fees during the coin to cash exchanges, but it’s a small price to pay for the convenience of returning change to the local grocery store. There’s no reason to leave loose change around your car and home, so trade in your extra coins for cash that you will actually use.

Think of all the times you have gone to the grocery store and paid in cash. Consider how often it was that the cashier provided you with change and how you relied on them for those coins. 

Recently, the U.S. Mint stated, “Until coin circulation patterns return to normal, it may be more difficult for retailers and businesses to accept cash payments.” As a result of the decrease in coin availability, several businesses are lacking in coinage, making them unable to return money owed when customers pay strictly in cash. 

Kroger has completely discontinued the distribution of coins. This grocery store loads the amounts owed onto a loyalty card, used for future purchases.

To avoid this issue and help businesses regain coins, we can pay with exact change. If everyone begins to do so, the coin shortage will clear and we will be one step closer to living life normally again.

As Americans, we need to work together and do everything we can to help our country when it is at its lowest. Distributing loose change only takes a few minutes out of our day, and there are several effortless opportunities available to us. There may not be a cure to the virus, but the solution to this coin shortage is simple and it’s in the hands of the people.