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Houston credit union nixes loose change

Jeremy Simon

People may change, but one Houston credit union does not.

The new downtown branch of People’s Trust Federal Credit Union in that Texas city has opted to forego loose change. Consumers who plan to cash a check in an uneven dollar amount will not get any coins back. Instead, they can either choose to deposit their change into an account or make a charitable contribution to the credit union’s foundation for first-time mortgage borrowers and financial education.

Houston Center Branch People's Trust.jpgPeople’s Trust says coins appear to have lost their luster. “We came to discover that people come in with coin. As far as walking out with coin, most people didn’t want to be bothered,” says Vernon Babilon, People’s Trust executive vice president and chief financial officer. Babilon says people generally didn’t bother to look at their coins before tucking their change away in a pocket.

Going change-free is part of the progressive approach in what Babilon describes as a non-traditional branch. Visitors to the credit union are greeted by a teller and approach a dialog station, rather than waiting in line at the usual teller counter. Not making change is also safer for employees. With no need for a teller drawer, cash is instead supplied via a dollar dispenser.

How have consumers reacted to the change-free branch? “People are appreciating it. Absolutely no complaints whatsoever,” Babilon says.

The branch does have some coins on hand. If consumers need rolls of quarters or other bulk change, it comes from a vault as opposed to being kept out in the open.

If this development is part of a broader move toward a cashless society, Babilon doesn’t see it that way. “As far as getting away from cash, we’ll never see that in our lifetime,” he says.

Still, People’s Trust Federal Credit Union is plastic-friendly. The credit union already has a debit card and is working toward an instant issue, stored value card (similar to a gift card) that can be used wherever Visa and MasterCard are accepted.

See related: Cashless businesses slowly catch onKids’ lunch money lost less often in cashless cafeteria lines, How ‘cashless’ trend affects those who rely on cash, Cashless colleges: Student IDs turn into payment systems

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Gallop on over to the savannah, aka the Carnival of Debt Reduction — Gazelle Intense Edition hosted by Not the Jet Set, for a look at my blog entry “Not understanding credit scores can cost you, survey says.” While you’re there, take a cool drink from the watering hole and enjoy some of the other selected entries.

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