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!

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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.

Coin Collecting Popularity Header

Is Coin Collecting a Dying Hobby?

Do people still collect coins?

You have probably never heard people on the bus, or a National Television Show talking about coin collecting. Perhaps you have one friend or an older family member who collects coins. You may wonder, “Is coin collecting a dying hobby?”

To judge the popularity of coin collecting, we will look at trends in Google Search History. This tells us roughly how the number of people searching “coin collecting” is changing.

Looking at Google Search Interest from 2004 to 2020, it does look as if coin collecting is becoming less popular.

A clear downward trend in searches for “coin collecting”.

We can compare more than one search on Google. Let’s see what happens if we compare “coin collecting”, “valuable coins”, and “rare coins”.

Comparing searches for coin collecting to rare coins and valuable coins.

Searches for “coin collecting” are in blue, “valuable coins” in red, and “rare coins” in yellow.

Coin collecting has a clear downward trend. Rare coin searches are also falling, but not as steeply as coin collecting. On the other hand, searches for valuable coins has stayed the same.

What this all means

Coin collectors are increasingly becoming more focused on coins as a store of value or as a way to make money than for their historical significance.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, lots of coins are a great store of value due to their precious metal content. Collectors may become interested first for the metal and then become more interested in history as they get more involved in collecting coins.

It does mean that the market for coins is changing. Coin collectors may prefer to buy a Mercury dime for the silver instead of a Buffalo Nickel for the history.

The Upside

Coin collecting is not considered the “Hobby of Kings” for nothing. Although 2004 to 2020 may seem like a long time, coin collecting has been around since the Renaissance Era in the 14th Century.

All activities have long-term trends where they may become more or less popular. Perhaps tomorrow Billie Eilish will come out with a new song about how much she loves Standing Liberty Quarters and a whole new generation of coin collectors will be born!

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On a Personal Note

I’m 23 years old, at this age, none of my friends are interested in coins. Sometimes, when I mention I collect coins a friend will tell me that one of their parents collects coins as well.

Recently, my 13 year old cousin has begun collecting coins. I am so excited for her, as it shows a great depth of interest in history and economics. I definitely plan on sharing my collection with her.

Even more exciting, is that my grandfather, who is 81 years old and an avid coin collector, now has two grandchildren interested in coin collecting. Whenever I see him he now asks me how my coin collection is coming and offers to share information with me.

More exciting yet again, my grandfather inherited and learned much of what he knows about coins from his father! So, because my great-grandfather collected coins, he created another 3 generations of coin collectors!

Coin collecting probably won’t be the hip trend of 2021, but the hobby is not going to disappear completely. If you are worried about coin collecting losing popularity the best thing you can do is get others interested, especially young people!

If you are interested in collecting coins, check out: 4 Essential Items to Store and Handle Coins Properly!

If you have a friend or family member who collects coins check out my top 10 gifts for coin collectors!

Share your thoughts in the comments and vote in our poll!

5 Hobbies That Go Great With Coin Collecting

What do coin collectors do when they aren’t looking at coins?

Coin collecting is a super fun hobby, but sometimes you lack motivation. Maybe you have just finished a type set, or spent lots of money on American Gold Eagles. It’s common to feel burnt out on a hobby every once in a while.

What should you do while you put coin collecting on the back burner?

Here is a list of 10 hobbies that don’t revolve around coins (but still feel similar.)

1.) Stamp Collecting

Stamps, courtesy of Mason B.

Part of the fun of coin collecting is that you get a new lens on US history. Stamp collecting is a great hobby for people who love coins for their history.

Stamps were first invented in 1837, so there are stamps that are over a century old. Plus, many stamps commemorate historical events. Just like coins, there are stamps for national parks, states, and historical figures. (Also lots and lots of Lady Liberty!)

There are stamp collecting albums for storage similar to coin albums as well as informational books.

2.) Metal Detecting

My Garret Ace 400

I got a metal detector to help me find old coins lost in the ground, but a metal detector can find much more than coins. I have also used my metal detector to find jewelry and help clean up trash. (You will find lots of trash metal detecting!)

Metal detecting gives you an excuse to walk along the beach or hike through the forest in search of treasures. It reminds me of coin roll hunting because there is a sense of searching for forgotten treasures.

I have a Garrett Ace 400 which is a great metal detector for finding coins. It even has a coin setting which helps you find coins faster.

3.) Woodworking

Woodworking Photo courtesy of Dominik Scythe

Any good coin collector eventually reaches the point where they have too many coins to fit in an old Altoid tin. You could move the coins to an old cigar box, but isn’t presentation almost as important as the coin itself?

Making your own coin box, or coin holders, is a super cool way to show off your coins. Plus, you could learn how to sell specialty coin boxes on Etsy! More money = more coins!

I love coin collecting, but often lament the fact that this hobby doesn’t give me the chance to create. By combining coin collecting with woodworking, you have a trove of woodworking ideas and the ability to create something.

4.) Photography

A camera wistfully pointed at the sky. Courtesy of Christian Wiediger.

Photographing coins is HARD. Since coins are so small and have a reflective surface, getting a clear picture is challenging.

I have little to no photography experience so learning to take pictures of coins has been an uphill battle. You need a good camera, natural lighting, and the perfect angle.

Even if you are not photographing coins, photography is a great reason to get outside and explore new places. You may learn about new animals and attractions in your area.

5.) Paper Money Collecting

A 2$ bill hanging in my room.

Collecting paper money is not as fun as collecting coins, (Sorry, paper fanatics!) but it is a good complimentary hobby.

You can look for misprints, mis-cut bills, star notes, and fancy serial numbers. Old paper money is often harder to find than old coins, as paper is less durable.

If you are looking to get started, buy some money holders to keep them safe and start looking through your wallet. You can even go to the bank and ask for a stack of bills to search through!

I’d recommend first searching for 2$ bills, silver certificates, foreign currency, and older bills.

Anything I missed? What complimentary hobbies do you have for coin collecting?

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Why Are Coin Prices So High on Etsy?

If you have ever searched a coin online, one of the first Google suggestions was likely a link to an Etsy Store for someone selling the coin for thousands of dollars.

You may have been excited and confused to see the price. Could this coin really be worth thousands? More, than likely, it’s not.

Etsy is an online shop where users can sell items they have made or sell used items. There is a great market for antique items on Etsy, but coins are generally way overpriced.

Here is a screenshot of a Google Search for a 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar:

Why are Etsy coins so expensive?!?!

The coin listed is not worth $49,999.98. Even for someone who overpays for this coin, $10 would be a ridiculous price. Susan B. Anthony dollar coins are still widely available in good condition. I could go to my local bank and get 10 of these right now.

A 1979 SBA Dollar I got in change from a vending machine.

There are two prevailing theories for why these listings exists.

Theory 1: The sellers hope buyers don’t know any better.

Many coins are bought for ridiculous prices because buyers don’t know how to price coins correctly.

The idea that someone would spend almost 50 thousand dollars on a coin without doing any research is crazy. But, I suppose these Etsy sellers only need one gullible buyer to make an immense profit. Selling $1 for $50,000? Ka-Ching!

Just because a coin is old, or not often seen in circulation, does not give it inherent value. Always research the price of a coin before you buy.

Theory 2: Money laundering.

I am but a humble coin collector, not very up-to-date on organized crime, but I have heard the idea floating around that these sellers are part of drug money laundering schemes.

The way this would work is sellers list coins for high prices, pay someone to buy the coin, and then the money is returned. The money is now “clean” because it has been used for a valid transaction. (If you want to know more about money laundering watch Ozark on Netflix.)

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In some ways this makes a lot of sense, coin collecting is more art than science. Art has always been used for money laundering. Any item that has a highly speculative value can be used for these kinds of schemes.

I’m not sure if this theory holds up, however. Someone looking to launder money could do much smaller, less obvious values. Do people laundering money really worry about Etsy fees cutting into their profits?

Cheaper places to buy coins than on Etsy:

Honestly, there are very, very few places more expensive than Etsy. Even Amazon often has cheaper coins! Browse through Amazon’s collection here: Amazon Collectible Coins

I would recommend buying from a trusted coin dealer on eBay or even a gold/silver distributor like SD Bullion or Money Metals Exchange. By shopping at either of these sites by clicking a link from American Coin Stash, you also support this site! American Coin Stash is an affiliate advertiser of SD Bullion and Money Metals Exchange because I trust both of these companies.

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If you are looking for very specific coins, not in a lot and have a good eye for spotting genuine coins, eBay is a great resource! Just remember to know what you are looking for, it is easy to get addicted to eBay bidding. Plus, eBay is more likely to have fake products or mislabeled items. Sometimes the sellers don’t even know they may be mis-advertising a coin!

Add a comment below on which theory you think is more accurate, or share your own!