credit union sign

Banks or Credit Unions: Which is Better For Coin Roll Hunting?

A coin roll hunter is someone who goes to a bank to get rolls- or even boxes -of coins to search through in hopes of finding rare and valuable coins. Is a coin roll hunter more likely to find valuable coins at a bank or a credit union?

First, let’s look into the differences between the two types of banking systems. A bank is a business like Wells Fargo or Chase which has customers and is owned by its shareholders. A credit union on the other hand, is owned by the “customers” who are referred to as members.

Credit unions are usually smaller than banks, but are also insured (by the NCUA instead of the FDIC). Credit unions, as smaller institutions, can have more flexibility in their rates and promotional offerings, although large banks may be more willing to take steep losses.

Whether or not you bank with a bank or a credit union, which is better for coin roll hunting?

The benefit of a regular bank is that they likely get a lot more traffic. A bank probably has more members coming in each day to deposit and take out coins. This can be good for a coin collector because they can be reasonably sure they are going through different coins.

The negative of more traffic is that it increases the likelihood another customer also collects coins. Plus, a larger and busier bank will have more employees (and bank tellers are notorious for buying the good coins out of the till.)

Bank Imagery

A smaller credit union will have less coins coming in and out each day. This would make a credit union a bad place to check regularly, as many coins would be the same. A smaller bank will also have less coins on hand if you want to search through boxes

The benefit of a small bank or credit union is that it can be easier to develop a relationship with the tellers and managers. It’s great to build up a relationship so the employees can let you know if any interesting coins or old bills come in.

The Winner?

If you can pick only one, I would say a bigger and busier bank is the way to go. This way you can get a wider variety of coins each time you go in. Of course, there is no reason you can’t have more than one bank account.

One thing to consider is that credit unions often offer free savings or checking accounts. You could always open an account and keep a few dollars in there to buy coins every couple of weeks. Coming in regularly for coins is a good way to build rapport with the employees and hopefully they can let you know if any interesting coins come in.

Share your comments below and vote in our poll!

How to Use A CoinStar to Find Rare Coins

Most people know Coinstar machines as places to exchange coins for cash, but did you also know that Coinstars are a great way to find valuable coins?

Coinstar machines work by weighing coins and checking their magnetism. If a coin is outside the parameters of most US coins, the Coinstar will reject it. Since silver coins (mostly dimes quarters and half dollars minted before 1965) are heavier than modern coins, the Coinstar will not accept them.

A Coinstar Kiosk

Most people who exchange coins at a Coinstar do not realize that their coins that are rejected may not be accepted because they are silver! Some people take the rejected coins back, but many people leave the coins in the reject tray or on the countertop of the Coinstar.

Getting into the habit of checking the Coinstar reject tray every-time you go to the store can be very profitable. It takes seconds to do and you can find silver, tokens, and foreign coins.

Where do I check a Coinstar for silver?

Here is the handy Coinstar coin-finders guide for all the coin hunters out there:

Coinstar Labeled Coin hunting finding silver guide reject tray
Coinstar Guide Labeled

I recommended looking first in the reject tray. Check with your eyes quickly, then reach your hand along the bottom of the reject tray to feel around for any coins. It doesn’t take more than a second to do.

How often do you find rejected coins at a Coinstar?

This will really depend on the area you live in. I have some Coinstars where I will find rejected coins about 1 in 5 times I check, and others that are closer to 1 in 10.

The best Coinstar’s to use will be ones at busy places, the more often the Coinstar is used, the more likely you will find something good!

Buy Gold and Silver

Are all Coinstar rejects valuable?

Not all Coinstar rejects are valuable. Coins can be rejected for being dirty, damaged, or just due to a machine error.

Along with coins, I have also found lint, plastic, and nails in the Coinstar reject tray.

Does this only work for Coinstar brand coin counting machines?

No! You can find rejected coins in any brand of coin counter.

I simply refer only to Coinstar machines as it is the most popular coin counter. You can also find counter counters at some banks and credit unions. (And some coin counters at banks don’t charge a fee!)

What is the most valuable thing ever found in a Coinstar?

One of my friends told me that his brother once found a gold sovereign in a Coinstar! His brother sold the gold to a pawn shop, then went to buy an Xbox.

There is always a small chance you can find something amazing in a Coinstar, so it is always worth it to check.

What are the most common coins or tokens to find in a Coinstar reject tray?

Without a doubt the most common coin to find in a Coinstar is this prayer token pictured below!

Prayer Token Angel Golden
Prayer Token

I have probably found about 5 of these prayer tokens while searching the Coinstar reject tray over the last couple of years!

Is it legal to take coins from the Coinstar?

I’m not sure if a store could make a case that they own the coins once they have gone through the machine, but I have never been asked to not check the machine. Plus, it would be hard to prove they are not your coins.

It only takes a few seconds to look for rejected coins, so I doubt most employees even know what I am doing when I go over to the Coinstar.

Where can I show off my finds?

There is a great Reddit community on the sub r/CoinstarFinds where you can post images of coins, tokens, and random objects found at the Coinstar.

You can also share your photos on my Contact Page or on the American Coin Stash Facebook page!

Share a comment below on your best finds and vote in our poll!

CRH Coin Roll Hunting Mats Collecting

What is a Coin Mat and How Do They Work For Coin Roll Hunting?

Laminated coin mats are a great way to keep yourself organized and informed while Coin Roll Hunting!

If you don’t know what coin roll hunting is, I recommend checking out my more in-depth article “What is Coin Roll Hunting”. In brief, coin roll hunting is when a coin collector gets rolls of wrapped coins from the bank in search of treasures.

But how do you know what coins to be looking for? This is the problem which hunting and collecting coin roll sorting maps help you answer!

Note that the blurriness in the image was done intentionally by the seller. The distortion is to prevent copycats. The actual product you receive will be clear and legible.

The laminated mats are 11″x17″ inches, making them the perfect size to work on and they should fit on standard desk sizes. They are also dry-erase friendly, which means you can make notes or mark off denominations that you find.

In one review, a user was disappointed by the thickness of these mats. It’s important to note that these are not as thick as traditional dinner place-setting mats. These were designed to lay flat across a table.

In the center of the map is a 1909 penny, the first year of the wheat cent and one of the most sought after. This space is mostly blank, because this is where you keep the coins you are looking through. I recommend having a magnifying glass with you as well.

To the left and right of the cent you are given information about mintage numbers, double die varieties, valuable pennies, mint mark errors, and miscellaneous errors. These are great stats to have on hand and take you from a beginner coin roll hunter to an advanced one instantly!

Having this information on hand means you don’t need to flip through a big red book of coins to find information on each coin you find. Being faster, means you can go through more coins, which increases your odds of finding a valuable coin!

At the top, there are 32 outlines of circles, these spaces help you keep your coins organized. You can keep the coins you plan on saving in those spots, or stack coins by year.

For a beginner coin roll hunter, I always recommend starting with pennies as there is more to be found, but you can purchase mats for any denomination.

Here’s a list of available mats with links to each one:





Half Dollars:

Dollar Coins:

Do you use a CRH mat and if so, have you found it useful? Vote in our poll and add a comment below!

As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn ad revenue from purchases made through Amazon links on my site. This does not increase the price of items linked through my site. My purpose is to inform.

Mercury Dimes Various Dates

Which U.S. Coins Contain Silver?

If you know how to look for it, finding silver in US coins becomes second nature.

Not to say that finding silver is easy, it’s a numbers game. The more coins you look through, the greater your odds of finding silver.

By knowing how to quickly identify silver coins you may be able to find a few dollars worth of silver a year.

Why were coins silver? Wasn’t it expensive?

Nowadays, people trust the stability of U.S. currency simply because it is backed by the U.S. government, but this wasn’t always the case. You probably heard about how the United States used to be on the “Gold Standard” this meant that every dollar issued to the public corresponded to a fixed amount of gold.

The same idea applied to coins, so each coin consisted of an amount of precious metal roughly equal to its value.

Although a 1946 silver dime is worth over $1 today in silver content, it was worth less than 10 cents when it was made.

Due to an increase in production, silver demand has increased drastically in the last century. Silver is used in electrical switches, conductors, and fuses. Silver has many uses because it is the best thermal and electrical conductor of any metal.

Eventually, silver coins did become too expensive to produce. In 1965 the U.S. mint stopped minting silver quarters and dimes.

What coins have silver?


No pennies have silver. Pennies have been made of copper, zinc, and/or nickel since 1793.

If your penny looks silver it is probably a steel cent! These pennies were minted in 1943 and are made of steel with a zinc coating, giving the penny a silver appearance.

If you do find a silver penny, it was more than likely plated. There is however, a very small chance you found a very valuable penny that was minted with the wrong material.


There are silver nickels! These are called Silver Wartime Nickels and they were minted from 1942-1945.

Nickel was in high demand during WW2, so to save nickel to be used in military weapons and machinery, the mint used 35% silver instead of nickel. A silver Jefferson nickel has a weight in silver of 1.59 grams.

Not all nickels minted from 1942-1945 were silver. To know if your nickel is silver, check for a mintmark above the depiction of Monticello on the back of the coin. There will be with a large P, D, or S.


Roosevelt Dimes minted from 1946-1964 are 90% silver. They have a silver weight of 2.25 grams.

A small pile of silver Roosevelt dimes.

Another common silver dime is the Mercury Dime. These are also 90% silver with a weight of 2.25 grams. Mercury Dimes were minted from 1916-1945.

Silver Mercury Dimes of Various Years

Less common 90% silver dimes: Barber Dimes, Seated Dimes, and Seated Half Dimes.

Dimes with 89% silver composition: Capped Bust Dimes, Draped Bust Dimes, Capped Bust Half Dimes, Draped Bust Half Dimes, and Flowing Hair Dimes.


Washington Quarters minted before between 1932-1964 are 90% silver. There is about 5.625 grams of silver per quarter. This is the most common silver quarter to find in circulation.

A 1964 Silver Quarter

There are silver editions of the Bicentennial Quarter that are about 40% silver for a weight of 2.3 grams of silver. Not every Bicentennial Quarter is silver, finding a silver one is quite rare.

Other quarters with 90% silver composition: Standing Liberty Quarter, Barber Quarter, Seated Quarter, and the Twenty Cent Piece.

Quarters with 89% silver composition: Capped Bust Quarter and the Draped Bust Quarter

Half Dollars:

Kennedy Half Dollars from 1965-1970 are 40% silver, giving them a silver weight of 4.6 grams.

The first Kennedy Half Dollar from 1964 is 90% silver, with a silver weight of 11.25 grams.

Before the Kennedy Half Dollar there was the Franklin Half. These coins are 90% silver with a silver weight of 11.25 grams.

A Silver Franklin Half Dollar, 1954.

Another silver half dollar that can sometimes be found in circulation is the Walking Liberty Half. The Walking Liberty Half is also 90% silver with a weight in silver of 11.25 grams.

A 1946 Walking Liberty Half

Other 90% silver half dollars include: Commemorative Halves from 1892–1954, Barber Halves, Seated Halves, and Capped Bust Halves.

Half Dollars with 89% silver composition: Capped Bust Half, Draped Bust Half, and the Flowing Hair Half Dollar.

Dollar Coins:

Peace Dollar and Morgan Dollars are the most common silver dollar coins to see in someone’s collection. These pieces are lots of fun yo own because they are BIG. Peace and Morgan Dollars are both 90% silver and have a silver weight of 24.057 grams!

Unfortunately, these coins are rarely seen in circulation because they are highly sought after. It’s not unheard of for some to be dropped off at a local bank by someone liquidating a collection. So ask your local bank teller!

Other 90% silver dollars: Trade Dollars, Seated Dollars, and the Flowing Hair Dollar

Dollars with 89% silver: Draped Bust Dollars.

Two and Three Cent Pieces:

Did you know that the US minted two and three cent pieces?

The Three Cent Nickel was minted from 1865-1889 and contains no silver.

The Three Cent Silver coin was minted from 1851-1873. From 1851-1853 they were 75% silver for a silver weight of .6 grams. Then from 1854-1873 they were 90% silver for a silver weight of .675 grams.

Proof Coins:

In 1992 the US mint began producing Proof Sets with silver coins. The dime, half dollar, and quarters in silver proof sets are all 90% silver.

My favorite proof set! The 2018S Silver Reverse Proof Set!

Not all proof coins you find are silver. Since you cannot tell a silver proof coin from the year or mint mark, your next step is to do the rim test.

What is the Rim Test?

The fastest way to check if a coin is 90% silver is to look at the rim. A 90% silver coin will have a rim that is all a gray silver color. A coin that is not 90% silver will have a silver-colored band and a copper/brownish band.

Silver Quarter (left) vs. Clad Quarter (right)

Be aware that this method ONLY works for 90% silver varieties. It will not help you identify silver wartime nickels or half dollars from 1965-1970.

If you check the rims and are still not sure if the coin is silver, checking the weight will give you a good estimate. If all else fails you can go to a coin store and have them test the composition for you.

Check the CoinStar

I have actually found most of my silver coins from CoinStars! CoinStars, or generic coin-counting machines, don’t accept silver coins as they are not the weight that the machine uses to verify a coin’s authenticity.

After using a CoinStar, many people leave the rejected coins in the reject tray or on the counter. Little do they know they might be leaving behind valuable silver!

Coinstar Labeled Coin hunting finding silver guide reject tray

I check the CoinStar every time I go grocery shopping. I’ve gotten my friends to check it to. Whenever my friends find foreign coins or silver I buy the coins off of them. We both leave happy!

For more on finding silver in CoinStar machines, go to: “How To Use A Coinstar To Find Rare Coins”!

Try Coin Roll Hunting

If you are looking to find silver, you should read up on coin roll hunting. Coin roll hunting gives you exposure to many coins, therefore increasing your odds of finding silver.

Too much work? You can also buy online!

Coin roll hunting is a lot of work. You have to go through hundreds of dollars in coins before you usually find any silver. I like coin roll hunting for the fun of it, but it is not a very profitable endeavour.

If you are looking to buy bulk circulated coins, you can try an online distributor. Money Metals exchange is an affiliate of American Coin Stash, so if you purchase from Money Metals Exchange, you are also supporting this site! Below is a link to Money Metals Exchange Junk Silver coins:

90% Silver Quarters, Silver Dimes Pre-1965 Junk Silver Coins

from: Money Metals Exchange

The term “junk silver” refers to silver from a coin. Usually, because silver in circulated coins has been touched a lot, it tends to be tarnished. Tarnishing does not lower the value of silver beyond the melt value. In fact, lot’s of collectors like tarnishing and prefer to call it “toning” when it is evenly spread across the surface of the coin. Toning can increase the value of a coin.

Did I miss anything? How do you find your silver coins? Vote in the poll and comment below!

Lincoln Smoking Counterstamp

Counterstamped Coins and How to Find Them

One of the first interesting coins I ever found coin roll hunting was a counterstamped coin! I had no idea what the weird mark on my coin meant, or what it was. The mystery of it gave me a love of counterstamped coins.

My first counterstamped coin was stamped with a cannon. It took me a few hours and a magnifying glass to realize it was a cannon. At first, I thought it was a microscope. Check out the photos below:

My first counterstamped coin!

Here is a closer image of the cannon:

So cool!

My theory is that it was given out at some historical site for the American Revolution. Perhaps it was even given to actors in a Civil War Re-enactment? (If anyonw knows, please contact me!)

This coin will always be one of my favorite coins I have ever found in circulation.

What is a counterstamped coin?

A counterstamped coin is a coin that has had an image or initials pressed into it while in circulation. (Compare this to a privy-marked coin which had a small marking placed while at the mint.)

This was a common promotional item in the early to mid-1900’s. Companies would have a machine at the counter, and would press coins for those who asked.

Most counterstamps are seen on pennies, although they can be found on any denomination.

Other Names

I most often refer to them as counterstamped coins or counterstamps, however they go by several other names. Most commonly: countermarks, punchmarks, or chopmarks.

Are counterstamped coins valuable?

In general, not really.

A counterstamp is technically damaging the coin. Any damage that a coin encounters outside of the mint is called Post-Mint Damage and hurts the collector value.

Plenty of people like counterstamped coins and try to collect them. However, since a counterstamp is easy to replicate and difficult to determine when the engraving was actually placed, most collectors don’t buy counterstamped coins.

If you have a lot of counterstamped coins, you may be able to list them on Ebay for a slight premium, but don’t expect to get rich off of one coin.

Why do people want counterstamped coins?

A counterstamp simply gives a coin more history.

Although I wouldn’t want a valuable coin to have a counterstamp, finding common dated with a counterstamp makes it more fun. Just a small engraving can take a boring 1973 penny into a key part of a collection.

Since counterstamped coins aren’t valuable there are very few people selling them. You could check Etsy for counterstamped coins. Most common counterstamped coins are sold for 3-5 dollars on Etsy. Etsy historically has pretty overpriced coins so it’s not a surprise. Click here to read more about expensive coins on Etsy.

How do you find counterstamped coins?

The best, easiest way to find counterstamped coins is by coin roll hunting. Coin roll hunting is when you get a lot of coins from the bank and look through each one. If you are interested in learning more about coin roll hunting, check out “What is Coin Roll Hunting?”.

If you are looking for counterstamped coins check pennies first, as they were more likely to be stamped.

What are common counterstamps?

Here are the counterstamps I have seen most often:

1.) Freemason symbol
2.) John F. Kennedy
3.) Lincoln Smoking a Pipe
4.) Someone’s Initials

Here are some of my favorites:

How to make your own counterstamps?

Making your own counterstamp is easy and there are several methods.

The simplest method, is to use a hammer and metal stamping tools. With this method you could press your own initials into coins.

If you are going to start chopmarking your own coins, I would recommend using common dates. It would suck to damage a bunch of coins to find out you don’t like how they look a few months later.

Coins on Wrappers

Is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

Coin roll hunting is like a sport for numismatists. I have spent countless hours with boxes of coins searching for anything that would make a good addition to my collection.

Whether you are a coin collector or not, you have probably wondered if you can make money by coin roll hunting. It sounds easy on paper, simply find a valuable coin and cash in on potentially thousands of dollars!

In reality, few people make money coin roll hunting. The good news, is that you can coin roll hunt without losing any money and increase your potential for making money.

First, know what to look for.

Each denomination has its own unique characteristics that add value. As you begin searching, you will have to at the same time increase your knowledge of coins.

You can look for silver, errors, and low mintage numbers. Silver is easiest to learn, as you can usually go by the year. Quarters and dimes minted before 1965 are all 90% silver. Profit!

Errors are more difficult. Errors are damage that happen while the coin is being minted. There is almost never any extra value added to coins damaged after they have left the mint. A flaw that the coin obtains after it has left the mint is called post-mint damage, or PMD. Learning about the process of how coins are made will make it easier to know what kind of error you have.

Low mintage coins can be in very high demand. You can make decent money by selling these coins on Ebay. To know what coins are low-mintage you can look at the mintage numbers online or use a book that tells you the mintage numbers. Remember, to check the mintage you need the coins year and where it was minted.

How to cut down costs.

You want to reduce costs so that even if you don’t find any valuable coins, you can return the coins to the bank for the same value you got them for.

First, get your coins from the bank. It may be tempting to buy ‘unsearched’ coin rolls on Ebay, but this is the more expensive route. Sellers will charge you for shipping which is expensive, then they add a premium for calling the roll ‘unsearched’. It is very rare that the roll you buy off Ebay is actually un-searched, and even more rare that you will find anything valuable.

When you are done searching, wrap the rolls yourself by hand to return them to the bank. You can get coin wrappers on Amazon in bulk for decent prices, or ask your banker for coin roll wrappers.

Coin Roll Wrappers: Pennies, Nickels, Dimes, and Quarters

If you are looking to make money off this hobby, I would not recommend using a CoinStar. Although CoinStar’s are convenient, they are very expensive. If you do opt to use a CoinStar, convert the coins into a gift-card instead of cash to avoid the 11% fee. You could also donate the money to charity and use it as a tax write off.

Is it worth it to save copper pennies?

One way hunters try to make money is by saving all pre-1982 pennies. Pennies minted before 1982 are made of 95% copper and only 5% zinc. Depending on the price of copper, a penny could be worth more than a penny.

Although this sounds easy, there are many logistical problems.

You would need a lot of pennies to make any money at the current price. As of today, the best price for copper is about $2.75/lb. You would need 153 pennies to have a pound of copper. So, you would have a profit of about $1.22 cents per pound of pennies.

That means you would need about 82 pounds of pennies to make $100. If that sounds easy to you, also consider that you would have to store and transport 82 pounds of pennies. (Plus, 2.75 is for very pure copper, you may get less for pennies unless you purify them yourself.)

If you believe strongly that copper prices will go up considerably, then hoard copper pennies. If it sounds like too much work then don’t lose any sleep over returning copper pennies to the bank.

But is Coin Roll Hunting Profitable?

In general, I would say it is not as profitable as most people hope. It does however, not cost anything when done correctly.

Most coins are only worth a few cents or dollars over face value, barely enough to cover the cost of selling. You could likely make more money flipping coins.

I love and completely recommend coin roll hunting, but do it because you love coins, not to make a quick buck.