You may have seen signs posted on banks, gas stations and stores saying they don't have coins to make change. A big component of the shortage is coins piling up at home that aren't being circulated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The shortage is affecting people like Alsip resident Beverly Corey, who needs quarters to do laundry.
"I asked my son to go to the bank to get some quarters so I could do laundry downstairs," she said, "No quarters, he went to another bank on the way home, no quarters, and he went to a gas station, no quarters."
"Nobody has change they can sell," said Corey's son Matthew Brandt, who says he stopped at five or six businesses.
Why is there a coin shortage?
The U.S Mint closed briefly, which stopped the production of money. At the same time, people stayed home and were handing over less cash at stores and other businesses.
The U.S. Mint has since reopened, but they are operating now under reduced capacity to keep workers safe. This has resulted in cash registers being short on coins.
"They are locked up in people's houses, piggy banks and jars, or locked up in closed businesses," says Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at Bankrate.com. "Seventeen percent come from the mint, which was closed for a short time. It has to do with the pandemic, and people are spending less, and they are especially spending less on bills and coins because they think these may have germs on them. The whole flow of money has been disrupted."
The Federal Reserve says business and bank closures during the pandemic "have significantly disrupted the supply chain and normal circulation patterns for U.S. coins. While there is an adequate overall amount of coins in the economy, the slowed pace of circulation has reduced available inventories in some areas of the country. ..."
The federal government has resulted to creating a U.S. Coin Task Force to look for solutions.
The I-Team found signs at Jewel and Mariano's service desks, and on the doors of a Dollar Store and a Chase Bank, all saying they're change-challenged.
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Some businesses, like Kroger, who owns Mariano's, have gotten creative.
"Kroger has gone the furthest," says Rossman. "They are not giving any coins as change, instead, they are rounding up and putting the extra money on your loyalty card, or with your permission, they are giving it to charity."
But Corey says cash is king and that the issue is "very inconvenient."
The popularity of contactless payments like Apple Pay and wave-and-pay during COVID-19 also means fewer coins are out there.
Some stores and banks are offering deals or waiving fees if you exchange your change for paper cash.