Where Do You Go to Get Quarters for Laundry?

When I used to live in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, there would be two kinds of people waiting in line at the bank: senior citizens doing actual banking, and Millennials getting quarters for laundry.

I’d walk in once a month with $20 and walk out with two rolls of quarters, and if you think that $20 sounds like a lot to spend on laundry in a month, remember that many coin-op machines in apartment basements are small—a set of sheets takes up most of a load—and I can easily spend $5 on laundry in a week.

I’ve been going to this particular bank to get quarters for years, visiting branches in both Capitol Hill and Ballard. It doesn’t matter which bank it is, except it’s definitely one you’ve heard of, one of the big-name banks that tends to dominate a city. (There are 146 of these bank branches in Seattle. For comparison’s sake, another bank with a name you might have heard of only has 20 branches.)

When I went in yesterday to get my two rolls of quarters, the teller told me that the bank was no longer making change for people who didn’t have an account with them.

“I have a credit card with this bank,” I said.

“It has to be a checking account,” the teller told me. “I’ll give you the quarters just this once, but I won’t be able to the next time.”

This means I’ve got about a month to figure out where I’m going to get my next round of laundry quarters. It’s funny how there are so few places where people can make change. There’s a change machine at the library, but it spits out dimes and nickels. If you ask a grocery or gas station clerk, you might be able to turn a dollar into four quarters, but they aren’t going to give you two whole rolls.

And no, I can’t use the bank where I currently have my checking account:

Maybe I need a new checking account at this big-name bank with 146 locations in Seattle, to make it easier for me to do my laundry. I’d be willing to throw a few bucks in a checking account if it meant I could keep washing my clothes. Here’s where it gets hilariously delightful: all of this bank’s checking accounts come with monthly fees.

The basic checking account drops the fee if you make more than $500 in direct deposits per month. The interest-bearing checking account drops the fee if you have $15,000 in “qualifying linked deposits and investments.”

Both of these options will end up costing me money, either because I’ll lose the interest I’m earning on my current checking account or because I’ll pay the monthly fee on the interest-bearing account—which, by the way, is a losing game at 0.01 percent APY. (My checking account is paying 0.20 percent, which only comes out to about 24 cents a month based on my current bank balances, but still.)

So. Where do you go to get quarters for laundry? I’m guessing I’ll just have to walk into a few new banks until I find one that’ll work with me—but is there another source out there I’m not aware of?

And do your banks require you to have a checking account before they’ll make change for you?

Photo credit: Mike Steele, CC BY 2.0.

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