Amid a nationwide shortage of coins caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. Mint is asking Americans to begin spending their coins or depositing them at their local bank.
"Simply put, there is an adequate amount of coins in the economy, but the slowed pace of circulation has meant that sufficient quantities of coins are sometimes not readily available where needed," the Mint said in a statement. "You may be experiencing this in your local communities. We are asking for your help in improving this coin supply issue."
During more normal times, coins circulate through the economy through retail transactions with coin recyclers (such as those you'd find in a grocery store or CVS) returning a significant amount of coins back into the general economy. The Mint, which manufacturers the coins, is responsible for about 17% of the coins in the supply chain. However, thanks to health restrictions and people taking precautions amid the spread of COVID-19, many businesses have found themselves short on coins, with many asking for exact change.
"We ask that the American public start spending their coins, depositing them, or exchanging them for currency at financial institutions or taking them to a coin redemption kiosk," the Mint wrote.
The shortage has gotten so bad in some regions, one Wisconsin bank is paying people to bring in their spare change (whether they're a bank customer or not). The Coin Buyback Program offered by the Community State Bank in Wisconsin will give customers a $5 bonus for every $100 worth of coins they turn in.
"The coin supply problem can be solved with each of us doing our part," the Mint added in its statement.
However, now that people are getting used to paying for things using their debit and credit cards or other contactless payment options to pay for things, it may be awhile before the coin supply is back to normal.