Thursday, May 15, 2008

Rational or Irrational Prices? Counting Coins at Chevy Chase Bank

So you the last couple of years, I have been putting my change is this cool piggy bank (). I wanted to turn in all my change and went into the Chevy Chase bank location in the Towson student union. I had seen they had a coin counter there, and I assumed maybe it was free for Towson University people. Ok I was wrong, but I would be willing to pay to have the coins counted.

But the pricing system was weird:
Count Under $5.00 of change free
Count $5-$100.00 …. Flat $3.00 charge
Count $100.01 or more 10% charge

I think I had about $150 in change. So I started feeding my change in and I got to $95 and then stopped. Why because that cost me only $3, so for $95 of change I received $92. If I put in the whole $150 it would have cost me $15. But if I go back tomorrow and put in the other $65 worth of change I get $62. So now I have paid only $6 to have my coins counted, instead of $15. But, I do have to go to the student union twice, so you have to figure in the opportunity cost of going back over.

So why would Chevy Chase set this type of fee structure? My guess is it to prevent people from coming with hundreds of dollars worth of change. Or perhaps they were hoping to get someone thinks: I have saved this change up for years, I don’t feel like making extra trips, I’ll just pay the larger fee.

In other words, my guess is that Chevy Chase thinks the average’s person opportunity cost for a second trip to the bank is at most $14 (the savings of doing two trips just under a $100).

I should note that the service is free to Chevy Chase customers, however I bank with an online only bank.

I think I should change my bank to First Citywide Change.

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Lowell said...

I've had good luck with CoinStar. It's expensive if you use it to convert coins into paper money, but if you take the money as a Amazon gift certificate, they don't take a cut. If you're doing enough Amazon shopping anyway (and you can split the gift code they give you over several purchases), you can get full value for your coins.

Anne said...

Oh, I'm so sad--it's free at Commerce Bank, even for nonmembers, but I checked and there isn't a Commerce Bank within 100 miles of Towson! Guess you'll have to haul your change up to New York.
Any thoughts on why Commerce Bank would offer the free service?

Seth Gitter said...

I saw that thing about the gift certificate, I don't buy enough stuff on amazon or Itunes, but might have done it anyways. That seems reasonable. My guess is CoinStar can probably buy the gift certificates for 90 cents on the dollar so they do about as well which ever you choose.

As for NY, if I found one of those cheap bus tickets, I might be able to pay for my trip with the savings. If only I had the time to visit the big apple. Maybe next school year.