Coinstar Tests Gift-Card Program

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Coin-exchange kiosk supplier Coinstar here has been testing a program in which shoppers can exchange their loose coins for supermarket-brand gift cards.

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Coin-exchange kiosk supplier Coinstar here has been testing a program in which shoppers can exchange their loose coins for supermarket-brand gift cards.

The test was launched at Supervalu [2]-owned Albertsons stores and has since been expanded to about 50 Stop & Shop [3] locations, mostly in Massachusetts, according to a report in the New York Times. Coinstar has long offered the option of exchanging coins for gift cards, but has recently begun expanding this test in supermarkets.

In a conference call with investors last month, Coinstar said the so-called "fee-free" program – because retailers pay the 9.8% coin-exchange fee instead of the shopper – has been successful at other retail venues. Stores can offer a higher value for the gift cards – $50 in exchange for $40 in coins, for example, to entice shoppers to buy the cards and then spend the money in the store. The Times article quoted Stop & Shop Northeast Division President Mark McGowan as saying customers like the offer, which is in the midst of a six-month test at the Ahold-owned banner.

Convenience-store retailer 7-Eleven [4] is also testing the the fee-free program in some stores in San Francisco, the Times article stated.