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Tech Industry

Nickels and dimes to fetch goods at Amazon

Promotion lets users of Coinstar's coin-counting machines trade spare change for gift certificates.

Amazon.com has teamed up with Coinstar to help consumers use their spare change for online purchases.

Under the agreement, Coinstar's coin-counting machines will dispense gift certificates, redeemable at Amazon, in exchange for coins and even bills. The "Coin to Card" program does not charge Coinstar's usual service fee, so customers will get a gift card for the exact amount they put in.

"We're excited to work with Coinstar to make using cash for online purchases easy, with no additional cost, as there are thousands of Coinstar Centers around the country, and there is no transaction fee to turn coins or bills into a gift certificate redeemable at Amazon.com," Tony Reid, the e-tailer's director of business development, said in a statement. "We're always working to make buying on Amazon.com more convenient for customers."

Marci Maule, a Coinstar spokeswoman, said the company launched its gift certificate program earlier this year with other retail partners, including Starbucks, Pier 1 Imports and Hollywood Video. Amazon is the company's first online partner, she said.

Coinstar essentially gets the gift certificates at a volume discount and resells them to customers, she said. The program is initially available at about 3,500 of Coinstar's 12,000 locations, and it should be rolled out to about 5,000 locations by the end of the year.

"The interesting thing about the Amazon gift certificate is that, since they don't have a physical gift card, we can roll this out pretty quickly," she said. "The receipt that comes out of the machine would have a redemption code on it that would allow you to go to Amazon immediately."

Coinstar estimates that approximately $10.5 billion in spare change is sitting unused in American households.