Although much of the world’s population now prefers to pay using digital payment methods that’s not the case for everyone, and some small businesses – restaurants, bars, retail stores – still operate on a mainly cash basis. And all that cash has to be counted.
You could count all your cash by hand, but that’s time-consuming, annoying and not even very hygienic, something that has taken on even more importance in the wake of COVID-19.
What’s the alternative? Making use of a money counting machine. These handy, usually portable devices do all that tedious money counting for you, helping ensure that your daily bank deposits are accurate and you don’t incur the wrath of your accountant and/or bank manager because your cash counts were off.
There are still lots of options available to choose from when it comes to these handy little devices. So the obvious question if you are considering buying one is which of them is the best? That’s what we set out to find out.
Armed with a decent amount of cash – strictly for testing purposes – in both bills and coins – we put some of the best-selling money counters through their paces and, our findings, along with opinions and reviews of others who had tried the same machines for themselves, allowed us to come up with this list of the best money counting machines.
Before we get to the ‘long list’ those in a hurry are probably most interested in finding out which machine ‘won’ overall.
That honor, we can tell you, went to the G-Star Technology Money Counter. It’s actually not the most technologically advanced option we’ll cover here, but it does what most small business owners and employees need it to; accurately count money, is easy to use, great at spotting a fake and won’t cost too many of those hard earned bills you need it to count to buy.
The Top Money Counting Machines for Small Businesses Revealed
Most small business owners just want to count their money at the end of a busy day. They don’t want to spend thousands on a machine that does the math for them, they can work out what twenty $20 bills adds up to by themselves, but having a gadget that does all the tedious stuff and can spot if a customer or patron has done the dirty and stuck them with a counterfeit bill is a big help.
The G-Star Technology Money Counter does all this and more and yet still costs under $100 to buy.
Unlike humans, the machine never tires, so it can run at full capacity for up to two hours and count up to 1,000 bills every sixty seconds. Find a human that can do that (The Flash? Maybe, but likely too busy saving the world to be interested in a job with you) It makes use of magnetic and UV sensors to get the job done quietly and accurately and boasts a counterfeit bill detection rate of 1/100000. A bad bill automatically brings it to a halt, so you can remove the offending ‘bank note’ and ensure it does not make it into the deposit bag.
The easy-to-read, bright LED display keeps track of and displays the number of bills in the stack it’s counting. As mentioned, it does not do the final addition for you. If you want a machine that does that we do have one on this list (more on that in a minute) but it will cost you a lot more than this one.
G-Star Technology Money Counter Pros and Cons
- Works fast, can count up to 1,000 bills per minute
- Is relatively affordable, with a price tag just under $100
- Does a great job of catching fake bills
- Clear, easy to read counter display
- Does not total up your takings for you
Best Overall Money Counting Machine Runner Up:
In many ways the Kolibri Money Counter is very similar to our overall top pick and to say that it was hard to choose between the two would be a fair statement.
Like the G-Star option this little beauty can count up to 1,000 bills a minute, it can detect counterfeit bills and alert you to remove them, and it does the job nicely and quietly.
The reason that the G-Star eventually won out is that it is not quite as easy to load a larger number of bills into the Kolibri Money Counter and if you don’t do it just right it will jam, a problem we had that was shared by some of the others who have reviewed it. This wasn’t an issue when we were testing the G-Star money counting machine.
That being said it didn’t often happen and this is still a great machine, at a reasonable price, we can highly recommend.
Kolibri Money Counter Pros and Cons
- A nice fast little counter, can handle up to 1,000 bills per minute
- Quiet operation
- Reasonably priced (under $100)
- Can be hard to load
- Will jam if bills are not loaded correctly
Best Budget Money Counting Machine
Looking for a money counting machine to handle occasional bill counting duties after a poker night, a small charity fundraiser or a day of flea market vending that is very affordable but can get the job done on a smaller scale than our previous two choices? Then the Domens Portable Money Counter may be just the right choice for you.
Very lightweight and certainly very portable, this machine can count up to 600 bills per minute. Unlike the other two offerings it does not ‘know’ the difference between bills, and so that does add an organizational wrinkle on your part as you’ll need to do some initial sorting by hand.
It can’t spot a fake either, so to keep those out of the take you’ll need to make use of a detection marker at the point of sale, but for smaller volume cash handling that’s not too much of a problem. If you only need a money counting machine occasionally, this one is a great choice.
Domens Portable Money Counter Pros and Cons
- Very affordable for occasional use (under $50)
- Can still count up to 600 bills per minute
- Can be used as a battery powered unit (via 4 AA batteries)
- Cannot identify bill denominations
- Cannot spot counterfeit bills
Best High End/High Volume Choice
This is the higher end machine we mentioned earlier. The Carnation Mixed Denomination Counter/Sorter can handle both coins and bills and will do all the math for you, counting all your cash and then presenting you with a neat, final total. If it finds a fake note – or a fake coin – it sends it to a special reject drawer, keeping the counting momentum going instead of stopping it like the other machines on our list.
It’s also fast – it can count up to 1,200 bills or coins per minute, identifying each one as it goes and even recording bill serial numbers if you need it to. It’s software enabled and so can print end of day cash total reports for you with ease, taking one task off your accountant’s plate (or yours if you don’t have one of those yet.)
At this point you may be wondering why, if it can do all of this the Carnation Mixed Denomination Counter/Sorter was not our top pick. The reason is simple. It retails for over $2,000, while our top pick leaves you change out of a $100 bill.
This machine is a great choice – one of the best choices – for a high volume business – but for most small businesses, especially at a time when retail is a difficult business in general and you need to save every penny you can – $2,000 is just too much to invest in a single equipment item that’s a convenience rather than a necessity. You should however keep the Carnation Mixed Denomination Counter/Sorter in mind for when your takings and business volumes increase and you are ready for a money counting machine upgrade.
Carnation Mixed Denomination Counter/Sorter Pros and Cons
- Best in class money counting speed (1,200 per minute)
- Can count coins as well as bills
- Can add up your daily takings and print a report of them
- Can identity individual currencies (US dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling)
- Very expensive when compared to other options.
Things to Look for In a Great Money Counting Machine
The money counting machines on our list are some of the best available, and we think one of them is likely to be right for your business. However, they are not the only options available by far, and it’s reasonable to think that you may come across others you’ll consider too. However, there are some basics to keep in mind as you shop for a money counting machine in general that will help you make the right choice. Here’s a look at some of the most important.
One of the biggest reasons people buy a money counting machine is to save time, so you need to look for one that can get the job done fast. Our top picks can both count bills at the rate of up to 1,000 per minute, which should be more than fast enough for most small businesses.
Ease of Loading
How long it takes- and how tricky it is – to load a money counting machine can be important as well. Our top overall pick, the G-Star Technology Money Counter, just edged out its very close competitor for this very reason; it’s super easy to load and rarely jams.
Ideally you want to be able to grab a stack of bills and have the machine work out if they are fives, tens, twenties etc. for you. Some budget money counters – including the top budget pick on our list – can’t do that, so if this is an important feature for you ensure that the money counting machine you choose is smart enough to tell the difference between notes of different denominations.
If you want to count coins, you have two basic options. The first is that you could opt to buy a higher end combination counter like the Carnation Mixed Denomination Counter/Sorter featured on our list. However, that costs $2,000. Alternatively you could buy one of our top picks and then invest in a separate coin sorter, which are easy to find and very inexpensive as they are often used as kids piggy banks!
Counterfeit Currency Detection
Much as we wish it didn’t – and we’re sure you do too – fake bills are still passed every day. Sometimes it’s a deliberate act on the part of the customer (boo) and sometimes it’s an innocent mistake, as the customer had no idea that they had been passed a fake. Either way, you do not want fake bills making it into your deposit bag, so choosing a money counting machine that can spot fakes will be a big help to many businesses.
A money counting machine is one of those business gadgets that is more of a convenience than a must. You COULD count the cash yourself, so investing thousands in one may make very little sense for your business overall. However, $100 to save yourself hours a week? That’s probably a lot more palatable for the majority of small business owners.