Is Montana Affected by the American Coin Shortage?
You bet it is, all states are seeing a coin shortage. But it's not really a shortage, like, the country isn't running out of coins, it's more of another weird affect from the COVID-19 pandemic.
I had heard about a lack of coins across the country but didn't really think about it until recently when we were out doing the dreaded Sunday shopping and there was a sign at the check out requesting use of a card or exact change only, due to the coin "shortage." So I looked into it and it sounds like this is happening for two main reasons. First, employees of the 4 U.S. Mint locations are not working regular schedules due to the pandemic. Second, coins aren't making the rounds like they used to because of the pandemic. As in, a lot of us were at home for several weeks, some are still on quarantine, and not spending our coins. So they are piling up in our jars at home and the middle console of our vehicles. Americans weren't, and aren't, using their change to pay for things like parking, the laundry mat, the soda machine or any other coin operated systems.
I imagine this is particularly hard for people who don't use a debit card or check book (yes, checks still exist, and some of us actually still use checks from time to time.) Folks who only use cash are already having a tough time because many businesses don't want to handle germ covered cash and will ask you to swipe your card. Small businesses are probably also suffering because they have to pay a fee every time a card is swiped, and some customers won't go to small businesses that require a minimum purchase when using a card because they can't afford to give change. It's a vicious cycle.
What can we do about it? My suggestion to those without a bank, who only use cash, is to get a prepaid debit card to get you through the pandemic and coin disruption. And for the rest of us, spend your coins! I've heard that a lot of smaller businesses that deal with cash are buying coins from customers, especially in bigger cities. Get rid of all that change, visit the local Coin Star machine, or better yet, see if your bank has the same machine that won't charge you to turn in your coins. And, just don't be a turd when a small business requires a minimum purchase to swipe your card. Also, maybe stop throwing your pennies across the parking lot. I hate pennies, but they'll probably be out of circulation soon considering that it costs more than they are worth to make them.