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Video Riches From Loose Change

8 Nov, 2005 By: Holly J. Wagner

Hollywood Video and Amazon.com have joined an increasing number of merchants helping cash-strapped consumers harness their loose change to rent or buy DVDs.

Hollywood Video joined the Coinstar “coin to card” program quietly in February, as Movie Gallery was making its bid to buy its rival. Amazon.com joined in September, and Borders and Waldenbooks got on board in late October.

Coinstar machines, positioned primarily in supermarkets across the country, let consumers exchange loose change for cash vouchers or gift cards. The machines take an 8.9 percent fee for cash vouchers. But for the gift cards, the fee is waived and users get back every cent.

The Hollywood Video cards are good at more than 2,000 stores nationwide for purchases or rentals. Customers can reload their cards by exchanging more coins. Among the cities with machines that dispense Hollywood Video cards are Seattle, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston and Las Vegas, a Coinstar spokesperson said.

Users also can choose gift certificates from Amazon.com.

“We're always working to make buying on Amazon.com more convenient for customers,” said Toni Reid, Amazon's director of business development.

Change-laden consumers can visit www.coinstar.com to find a nearby machine among the more than 12,000 nationwide. Next year, 100 Wal-Mart stores will test the machines. A Movie Gallery/Hollywood Video spokesperson did not respond with a comment on the program by press time.

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