September 28, 2005, 12:00 AM

The cash option at Amazon

Amazon has created a deal with Coinstar Inc., a provider of electronic cash-processing machines in thousands of grocery stores, that will let consumers trade their spare change as well as dollar bills for certificates redeemable on Amazon.com.

Leave it to Amazon.com to find innovative ways to produce sales. The online leader has never sat still in finding ways to accommodate more customers and its latest move makes cash a payment option for online purchases.

Amazon has created a deal with Coinstar Inc., a provider of electronic cash-processing machines in thousands of grocery stores, that will let consumers trade their spare change as well as dollar bills for certificates redeemable on Amazon.com.

Coinstar accepts consumers’ coins and converts them into cash or, in this case, into Amazon certificates. It operates 3,500 Coinstar machines in grocery locations today, although it expects that to grow to 5,000 this year. Some Coinstar machines also accept dollar bills. The machines immediately emit an Amazon certificate for the amount of cash inserted; there is no processing fee charged to consumers.

The certificates contain a code that consumers enter on Amazon.com during the checkout process; any remaining value after a purchase can be stored in the customer’s Amazon online account for later use.

"We’re always working to make buying on Amazon.com more convenient for customers," says Toni Reid, Amazon’s director of business development. "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."

Amazon is not, however, the first retailer to offer a cash option. AmeriNet Inc. in partnership with Western Union offers retailers the option to have consumers pay for their purchases in cash at a Western Union office, after which the retailer receives a message that payment has been received and the goods may be shipped.

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