A Target customer who apparently collected a lot of coins decided to use them to make a nearly $100 purchase at the store, sparking a debate about the practice.
The video documenting the purchase in progress comes from TikTok creator Alex (@z.izio), whose bio notes, “Send me funny tiktoks so i don’t have to find them.” This particular video resonated with viewers, getting more than 1.4 million looks in a single day.
The short clip, soundtracked by apropos instrumental music from SpongeBob SquarePants, shows Alex at a Target self-checkout register putting coins into the machine to ring up what looks like a $91.86 purchase. By the end of the nine-second video, the creator—who has a small coin purse on the self-checkout machine as they dole out coins—has managed to put in 33 cents.
Given that rate, figuring on close to $2 a minute being fed into the machine, it would take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to complete the purchase using just coins.
The practice isn’t new to social media users. One Redditor, writing in the r/Frugal subreddit, shared thoughts on the practice in 2019, stating, “I have a jar with spare change and about once a month when I go to Target or Walmart I’ll empty it out. The self checkout has a place to insert coins and I’ll usually have $10-15 worth of coins. It does take a minute but it beats rolling coins to take to the bank or using a coin machine that takes a percentage. I just make sure to go at a time that’s not too busy as not to clog up the line.”
Viewers of this new TikTok video had opinions on the matter.
“I do this with smaller purchases when I don’t want to roll my coins,” one declared. “I will never give coinstar my money.”
Coinstar is a company that operates coin-changing kiosks throughout the United States, even offering customers an option to convert coins into Bitcoin, though, as the site notes, “A service fee up to 12.5% + $0.50 transaction fee may apply.”
Someone else remarked, “definitely girl math, if you use all your coins it’s basically like getting a discount.”
Another said, “Glad I’m not the only one who gets rid of their pennies this way.”
But one commenter claimed, “i broke a machine doing this once and the person behind me paid the remaining balance cuz they thought i was broke.” That commenter then added, “I felt so guilty.”
The Daily Dot was unable to find evidence that placing large quantities of coins in Target self-checkout machines would break them.
But someone claiming to work at Target was delighted with people who did this. That person said, “As someone who manages the money in the self checkouts, thank you. this helps me to not keep filling them up every day.”
One viewer asked, “Did the coins cover the whole bill!?!”
Alex responded, “We paid for about $15 worth in mostly nickels and pennies.”
If you’re tempted to try this yourself, heed the warning of one commenter, who said, “I tried doing this once and got soooo EMBARRASSED because I forgot to press cash and it dumped it all back.”
The Daily Dot has reached out to the creator via TikTok comment and to Target via email.